Perfectionism & Imposter Syndrome (is it though?)

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Recently, I’ve noticed many aspiring (as in, new to the industry) yoga & wellness professionals expressing to me that they’re hesitating in putting themselves out there because they have ‘imposter syndrome’.

Which makes me think, “How can you have imposter syndrome if you’re only just starting?” This self-diagnosis of imposter syndrome feels to me like the new, “I’m a perfectionist.”

Which lead me to question this casual, recurring use of the perfectionist label, amongst people that to me, seemed not to be perfectionists, so much as having a healthy and normal amount of beginners fear and self-doubt.

To me, if you’re feeling self-doubt in your first and second year of practicing with your modality, that seems like a completely natural response to being at the very early years of your career. In your first 1-2 years, you haven’t had a massive amount of experience yet. And experience (trial and error, gaining real-life feedback, working through problems, having successes, testing and refining your process, etc) is what builds confidence.

Do you think that after you’ve had 3-5 years of experience in your field you’ll still feel the same fear and discomfort you’re experiencing now?

I wondered if, perhaps, people were hiding behind the romantic notion that they are a perfectionist as a self-sabotaging behavior. As long as they believed the limiting story that they aren’t starting because ‘they will only accept perfection’, to me, seemed like a sneaky and glamourous covert way of avoiding the very humbling experience of starting at the bottom (and looking up at the gigantic mountain ahead).

(> let me know if I’m on the money here.)

Sometimes, there is a little perfectionism in there. A lot of our students start a career in wellness after establishing success and mastery in their previous career. So being of mature age with a track record of accomplishment in another industry, starting out as somewhat of an ‘intern’ can feel uncomfortable and confronting on so many levels.

It’s actually quite complex if you think about it. That’s why I don’t like to let people off the hook in adopting the perfectionist belief (let’s not oversimplify something that is nuanced and moderately complex).

So, now, as I mentioned, the hip new belief is, “I have imposter syndrome.”

Ok yes, perhaps you do, to some degree. But how much of what you’re feeling is that you’re in your fledgling years as a coach/yoga teacher/practitioner? And how much of what you’re feeling is natural beginners nerves and fears?

The reason why it’s important to differentiate is so that you can ‘diagnose’ your issue correctly so that the correct remedy can be applied.

If you have perfectionism/imposter-ism, then yes, deal with that head-on to help you bust through that self-limiting belief so that you can go on to do great things.

But if it is a bit of a mut-of-a-mindset-issue (a mix of a few things! :p ), try to be brave and articulate what you’re really going through so you can take the appropriate action. If you’ve got some beginners fear going on, and frustrations around starting at the bottom, etc > you need experience. You can read all the personal development books to try and ‘solve’ your supposed mindset issue… but if you’re not treating the core issue, you might find the symptoms persist.

How to treat this seemingly complex issue?
It’s quite simple, actually.

Serve.

Start, and start small.
Joyfully accept the wonderful gifts that come with the humbling experience of starting.

Be grateful for every opportunity you get to serve your community with your services. And be appreciative of the fact that people are willing to work with you while you’re in your intern years!
Serve as many people as you can, in a timeframe that feels appropriate and comfortable for you. (Unless you need money, what’s the rush?)
Get comfortable showing up and serving.
During your hours of service, go in with enthusiasm, and an open mind. Document your experiences. Listen. Reflect. Refine your skills.
Over time, the more experience you gain, the more confidence you’ll cultivate.

How wonderful it is that serving is the solution.
How wonderful it is that the remedy to your ‘mindest’ issue, is to help more people.

Curious to know your thoughts! Have you suffered from true perfectionism or imposter syndrome before? Can you also relate to hiding behind it to avoid showing up?

Love and well wishes from your recovering wannabe perfectionist,

Sami xo

For live mentoring and business training, check out our course Business on Purpose.

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