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SPEAKER 1 0:00
My name is new Bianna from Houston, Texas. And I’m your moderator for today’s dialogue on the psychological burdens of imposter syndrome, while black. Our first panellist is an educational consultant, and an adjunct professor that’s working to transform the landscape of education through research and community engagement. His work informs policies and practices within higher education institutions, challenging administrators, advisors and students to question systemic norms. As an activist, practitioner, and scholar, he believes that we should all own our experiences, expertise and humanity confidently by rethinking perfectionism and sparking critical self-reflection, making his mark throughout the state of Michigan. Here with us today is Dr. Clyde Barnett that our next panellist is a licensed psychologist, executive coach and organizational consultant located in New York, passionate about encouraging others to embrace vulnerability and compassion, and often sharing the stories of her own. She in her partner had literally written the book on overcoming imposter syndrome. Sharing a highly sought after perspective on the double impact of imposter syndrome, that minorities and first generation professionals face. She is here to remind us that when you work as hard for yourself, as you do for others, you’re going to be unstoppable. Dr. Lisa Harvey asked Austin, welcome. Our final panellist is a diversity and inclusion consultant, and licensed clinical psychologist with particular expertise and working with a gender, racial or sexual identity related oppression. He believes that the unconscious mind is a primary driving force behind our deepest sentiments and behaviours. And that voice of doubts that we often have mimics the voice of a significant person and once passed when it comes to combating imposter syndrome, while black, Patrick’s practicing self-love is an act of defiance and rebellion, that we all must partake in, actively creating places to acknowledge and process the black experience from DC. Dr. Justin Hopkins, welcome. So I’m just going to kick it off. And start with the first question. What is imposter syndrome? So, Kai, we can start with you.
SPEAKER 2 3:08
So thank you. So first, I mean, my initial reaction to that question is a mess. But no, it’s feeling its feelings of inadequacy, like someone is out to get you and find out that you don’t know something or you aren’t as much of an expert on whatever your topic is that you’ve spent countless and countless hours studying, perfecting, working through rethinking restructuring. So it’s a feeling of feeling like you don’t belong, like you, you, you, someone is out to get you someone’s gonna find out that you didn’t really know something that you’re claiming to know. And it manifests itself in a lot of different ways.
SPEAKER 1 3:53
Okay, so feelings of inadequacy. Okay. Justin, or Lisa, is there anything that you’d like to add to that?
SPEAKER 3 4:03
Yeah, sure, I can tap in and share that. That those feelings of inadequacy for students often, right, like, you can kind of go down the rabbit hole in your thoughts and thinking that somehow, someone’s going to find you out that you trick the entire admission office into letting you into a particular program, and you really actually don’t belong there. And I think at bottom for a lot of us when we get certain opportunities, or we get into certain spaces professionally, or in academics, or when we’re showcasing our talent, right, a lot of the times we don’t feel like we can be successful or achieve and accomplish a goal by just being ourselves alone. Right? We have this idea that we have to be someone different in order to get where we need to go. So we instead try to embody different personality and body different attributes and body what we believe that the evaluator whoever that gatekeeper is, or even our peers in a particular setting, that they’ll approve of us and appreciate us, right. So it’s this really deep invalidation, and attack on our self-worth, as we just think that who we are, is simply not enough and not okay in a particular space. And we have to either embody someone different or constantly be on guard that will be found out discovered and removed.
SPEAKER 1 5:31
I don’t think that’s a lot to unpack. Right. So it’s not just this the simple thing, at least, I’m interested in hearing what other perspectives you have on that, because I read some of your work. And I know that you also have some layers to add.
SPEAKER 4 5:47
Sure. So I think I would add that it’s not a mental health condition, it is a phenomenon. It is not a diagnostic condition. That, you know, typically what is seen in it is this experience where people like, like, like has already been said, by Clive Justin, that people are skilled, experienced, accomplished, have expertise have credentials, and yet, they’re constantly concerned that they might be perceived as a fraud or incompetent. As a result of that fear. They, they work really hard to either overwork or self-sabotage, in order to kind of cope with those feelings of being perceived as a fraud or, or incompetent. And that often leads to burnout and leads to kind of feelings, you know, a feeling of like, being hyper vigilant about performance and perfectionism, being very concerned about making mistakes and revealing kind of like, you know, having a an extraordinarily high standard for what is, you know, what is an accomplishment or a value or skill, it often leads also to overvaluing others and undervaluing yourself. There’s another hallmark of intellectual authenticity that is also correlated with a where people often in spaces in which they are incredibly competent, will kind of devalue or kind of discount their knowledge, their expertise, in order to kind of to feel palatable to other people. There’s, there’s so many different components of imposter syndrome. And I think, you know, especially for, you know, I often say, you know, for black for black people, it’s particularly experienced that double impact which you had mentioned, which is that you have it internally and you’re struggling with it internally, and having your own experience around it. And the world is telling you, you are also an imposter, you don’t belong, you’re not competent, you got this because of a diversity program, or because of this or because of that. So you’re getting this external message that you are truly an imposter. So it makes it particularly hard for us to, to work on it, because when we’re working on trying to recover, then somebody externally then either micro aggresses us or tells us to our face that we’re an imposter. And then you get this very difficult kind of bind about getting out of it. And so it is a very difficult experience for us, especially when we are black to deal with imposter syndrome.
SPEAKER 3 7:59
Yeah, I can I can add to that as well. Lisa, what came to mind for me while you’re speaking is web Dubois his idea of double consciousness? Absolutely, absolutely. And I’m happy you are familiar with I imagine you would be right, because we all live it. We experience it absolutely. In so many ways, right? It’s this idea that as a black person, as a minority, you see yourself through the eyes of the other initially, because they are in positions of power, right? And because we know that our system is not equitable, right? And so we have this extra layer of consciousness of sin of knowing who we are right thinking of ourselves, but also seeing ourselves to the eye of the other and this double consciousness. So there’s a and you know, there’s a common idiom, and it’s actually research to back it in our communities that to be black successful, you have to be twice as good to get half as far. Yep. Right. And there’s actually literature that supports that were unfairly fired, where we’re the first to be like, go for a load, right, where our accolades not…
SPEAKER 4 9:08
Receive lower performance reviews, comments, reviews are impacted by our race solely. You know, I always say this, that, you know, finding your imposter syndrome as a person of color as a black person is a political act. It is not an individual Act is a political
SPEAKER 1 9:23
Or rebellious act.
SPEAKER 2 9:24
Yes. I want to add to both of your points in schools breed imposter syndrome. We, our schooling system, does that where we go into a space and you have to know the right answer. When you’re that anxiety you feel before a teacher calls on you. You don’t want to say the wrong thing in front of your peers. There’s a right answer to this test. There is one way to think about this, which inherently is anti-black because it’s not black epistemologies that make its way into curriculum design. It is standard why Western narratives that make it into how we do all things. But our knowledge frameworks, the unique experiences that we have that bring into the space, do not make it into these curricula into the curriculum, did not make it into our ideologies do not make it into any of these education spaces that we all filter through. Dr. Justin said it, our parents tell us you got to work twice as hard, you got to work twice as hard. Because these are the things that we’re combating as early as pre K, pre K, all the way through the PhD, you’re constantly pushing back on messages of having the wrong answer, when really, it’s just a different way to think about things. And I always talk about perfectionism. And we’ll get into that a little bit more with the additional questions. But this is where that perfectionism builds in, you don’t want to even offer what your perspective is because immediately is going to be discounted, discredited. And you can never full up show up as your full self.
SPEAKER 1 10:54
Right. So as you all were discussing that I was thinking, this is exactly where that perfectionism comes in. This is where we start to begin to have those feelings of inadequacy, because we are discounting our experiences. I am just curious to know from the audience, just with a quick yes or no are IV their characteristics are the traits that were just mentioned, or the symptoms that were just discussed? Like, do you all does that resonate with any of you? I know particular for particularly for me, I found it challenging to even know, like, if I have imposter syndrome, like so I know, like when I was on a call with Justin and Kai, I was like, Well, I have feelings of not belonging. But I don’t feel like a fraud. There’s so many different levels to it. And so it starts out this discussion, you start to see like how you may be a perfectionist, or you may overwork and have that burnout. So Tristan is saying yes, absolutely. Okay, saying yes, Elena? Yes. So we’re getting a bunch of guys, anyone in the audience like no, like they don’t experience this. Just curious.
SPEAKER 4 12:08
And I’ll also add new piano that the research suggests that 70% of people have experienced imposter syndrome over their lifetime. And actually, there’s a new study out that says like 82%. So the numbers are pretty significant that people have experienced, it’s not uncommon, and I think oftentimes people are afraid to, to kind of label them in some cell cells. So we feel like it’s a label, and they don’t want to taste you know, they feels like it feels it feels revealing in asserting the label in and of itself. And so I think, you know, I think oftentimes, it’s really hard to kind of come to this knowledge of like, this is what I’ve been facing. This is why I overwork this is why fear of making mistakes. This is why and I was listening to Clyde talk about sort of like hat and Justin talk about how our, our families teach us to kind of like work hard, don’t make mistakes, don’t you know, and it is somewhat instead of someone’s laying the foundation for us to have imposter syndrome, they do it because it’s real, like what’s happening is real, like, we could have consequences as a result of it. But it lays the foundation to never feel safe in our own experiences and our own expertise. And the school system completely enforces this, you know, and I can have experiences up through my PhD, you know, at an Ivy League University, where it was still be when I had black professors enforced enforcing this. Do you know, and I think it’s so important because we often think if we get to a certain place, it’s going to go away, it does not go away like it my imposter syndrome was the worst after completing my doctorate, it was worse than it ever had been. And so it’s really important to kind of nip it in the bud, because it because and do the things to kind of help you kind of change some of the characteristics of it. Because it doesn’t know accolade will ever make it go away.
SPEAKER 3 13:46
Absolutely. And also I was just thinking about writing for a black person and being a political statement of being a rebellious statement, given the systems that be right, it’s so pervasive in our society, that black is less than right through the through the systems, right, as Clyde mentioned, right, our epistemology is not included and how education is formatted, right. So it’s so easy for us then to internalize it because it is the water that we drink and the air that we breathe by the society, these are the ideologies that we have agreed to uphold right in this Western society, which implicitly and explicitly then puts us in a lower position so that we can feel actually inferior or like imposters, when we’re when we’re exercising upward mobility. So it’s important for us to recognize this is what we’re up against, so that we don’t internalize and feel like an imposter. And one thing I shared with you new vianna is that it’s great that even though you may feel like you don’t belong, it’s not because you don’t feel like you’re worth it. Right and there’s a difference there right now feeling like you belong enough to like your worth is two different things so you know that you’re worth it, but you don’t feel like you belong. And then you can kind of look at your environment as being part of the issue. Rather than yourself as part of the issue, and feeling like there’s something wrong with you, and really upholding imposter syndrome to its full degree. And so it’s really important for us to just make sure that we’re not internalizing it just knowing how pervasive it is.
SPEAKER 2 15:14
If I can add another thing is it, it, all the messages that tell us that the messages are sent of inadequacy and all of this, while also revealing that this this is doesn’t work? So I think about black people being murdered in the streets, there are people who complied with every rule followed every guideline, and we’re still killed. Yeah. And there are people who reject every rule and every guideline and still ended up dead, right. So we, we are working to both follow rules and break them at the same time. And this is why pasta central for me is just such a, it really is a waste of time, we could get we could get into that board are other questions we get, we spin our wheels in the mud for a long time over and over and over believing that there is some standard way to approach every single thing, when really the rules change according to whose context is at the forefront. That that’s really what it is. And we spend a lot of time trying to adjust and shift and mold ourselves into some arbitrary rule that is just not it’s not sustainable. It’s not sustainable in any way, a moving target is a forever moving target the finish line, there is no finish line. And so the ways that you the ways that you come at this is to think through Okay, what are the messages I’m seeing? How is it that I’m following the rule, I think about my doctoral program, these extra forms that magically appear for peers on the call, who know what that that those forms that you just randomly happened upon? How am I supposed to know that? Do I now feel inadequate? Because I didn’t know or do I just fill out the form so I could finish my program, right? And do I take do I internalize any of those messages I’m feeling from those offices, or from those individuals? Or do I just move forward? And so those are, it just holds us up from getting to our core work?
SPEAKER 1 17:13
Yeah, I think some of what you’re talking about climate where we’re definitely going to discuss as other parts of this. So as you started talking about your directorial experience, it’s a perfect segue into maybe each of you sharing an experience where you first experience imposter syndrome. I’m looking through the comments right now. And I think as a way just to kind of let people know if they’re still give people an idea of what imposter syndrome is, from personal experience or personified, I think it may be helpful if you share some experiences. And then I’m really interested and us having more of a conversation on as we continually how do we start to combat these things a little bit more, because we have already started to discuss like, systemically, there are things that are in place that just make it very hard for us to move and navigate. And we’re required to be dynamic, and that alone creates a lot of in my mind anxiety and, and burden to continuously morph yourself. And I know client, you have a very interesting perspective on an actual like, what are we morphing into, right? Like, why are we even trying to belong? So before we get into all that, if any of you would like to share your experience with imposter syndrome, a quick example, please feel free to do so.
SPEAKER 4 18:53
I can share, I can share the story that I shared in my TEDx talk, which was that, you know, after I graduated from my PhD D program, I was I was particularly like, inflamed with imposter syndrome. I was particularly feeling like I wasn’t qualified to do anything or to be anywhere. And I know it sounds bizarre, but that’s sort of what it was really, really bad. And I found myself in a job that was far beyond my far below my credentials. And, you know, I found out that my colleague was making like, significant half, half additionally, like 50%, more than I was making, and she was white. And like, I found out that you know, and my boss is treating me really kind of, like, like garbage, like he would like, you know, asked me to get coffee in the meeting I was supposed to be sitting in, he would like yell at me at the coffee wasn’t hot enough. It was it was really, really painful. And I couldn’t leave the job. I couldn’t, I couldn’t search for another job. I couldn’t do anything else because I felt like this is the best I could get. And this is all that I could do for myself. And we were sitting in a meeting and it was a meeting of all women. Senior team was all women. And he said, there was music playing in the background. And he said, someone said, what is that music that’s playing. And he said, its music to suit the savage breast. And in that one moment when I heard that phrase, I was like, Oh my god, like, I have allowed myself to, you know, let him put me down. Now he’s publicly putting it down and suggesting I’m some kind of savage that needs to be like suckled at the at the breast of like music in order to be calmed down. And I’m done. And in that, and I quit my job that that Monday was a Friday, I quit my job that Monday, and it was frightening. I, you know, like I, you know, I was in a pet a panic attack, it was really bright, frightening, because I was facing my imposter syndrome in a very radical very head on way. And for the first time in my life, probably since I was probably like, 14, I didn’t have a job, which was terribly scary. But you know, one of the things that did for me in that in that moment, that wake up moment, that was the wake up moment, that was it wasn’t the first time I had experience, but it was the probably the last time I had it like that powerfully. But what it did for me in that moment was it made me realize all the ways in which I was I was participating in the system and holding myself back and choosing to allow myself to believe the things that others believed about me, and that I had the freedom to create my own my own true path forward. And that’s when we started our practice, is that I took that time where I had nothing to do and I built out the administrative parts of my practice, I built out all the marketing aspects, I built out everything in my practice I devoted that’s why the saying, you know, that saying that you heard that in the beginning that you announced me with like, when you when you work as hard for yourself as you do for others, you’re going to be unstoppable. That’s what my husband told me. When I left the job. You know, my husband, who’s a psychologist told me that and I will never forget it, it changed my life. And it allowed me to take all that energy I was putting into other people trying to please them trying to fit into the system, trying to make it work toward myself, and created an opportunity for myself to live in my own dreams. And so that that is one of the most Hallmark imposter moments I’ve had.
SPEAKER 2 22:06
To. So thank you, Dr. Lisa de is a great segue into by example in it and I’m gonna borrow from you. I’m citing you on the call. So I’m borrow from you. In this. The last time I really felt it. I in my doctoral program, I was when I was still in coursework. I wanted to teach I wanted to at that time, I had about I think six, seven years of teaching experience. But I wanted to break into teaching more graduate level courses, master’s doctoral level courses. And I reached out to a faculty member who was in my concentration area and I wasn’t asking for pay, I wasn’t asking for anything. I just wanted to shadow and learn. Be a teaching assistant, you know, whatever, because I’m looking for experience. My six, seven years of teaching experience at the college level, this faculty member said I’d never put you in front of a classroom with your inexperience. What so I, one I bring experience to I’m asking for your guidance, your mentorship, your expertise around this area. And suddenly, you’re shutting down one I don’t know. For me, in my program, I see mostly black students doing that kind of work, where they’re trying to gain additional experience without compensation. And if you’re a doctoral student, you’re typically advising and meeting with and helping undergrads too. So there’s a lot of extra labour that you’re doing that you’re not getting compensated for automatically. So it for to go to a professor and be asking for additional work while you have, you know, a lot of work to do in your program is not common. But in that moment, I just I’m like I’m asking for additional experience. And that’s a no, you’re discrediting my all of the work that I’ve done over the years. And I’m like, I reject that I’m not going to take that I’m not going to take that I’m not going to internalize this in this code inexperience. I’m not saying I’m where I want to be. But I certainly want to gain additional insight. And you have been teaching this course for this long. Fast forward a bit. I ended up teaching that class by myself, and it’s not one of my standard classes. I’ve revamped it restructured it, it is much more collaborative. It’s much more of a participatory research approach. And no shade, but shade. The course evaluations are much stronger. And so what happens what I what I realized instead of going all the way in like I could have years ago, I’m nonviolent, you know, I’d be trying not to act up. But instead of acting like that, I, I respond, I realized that this was not about me. I found out that this professor has been blacklisted from several conferences is not presented in these spaces and forever. I found out that the professor has held on to these courses for so long because they are not in a position to restructure or revamp any other courses. And so instead of making that moment about me taking that in and thinking it’s, you know, my inadequacy, this is our projected all of her projection, all of her rejections, she’s experienced all of her feelings of inadequacy that she’s trying to place on me. So I reject that. And what I’ve reflected on over the years following that experience is, black people are the standard. We just are like, I fully walk in that believe that and I can back that up, there is not a move that can be made. There’s not a Netflix show that can drop black sweaters all over it. Right, you know, there’s just, there’s just, there’s so much that we can attribute right back to ourselves. So why would I feel like I’m an imposter, when everything that you do is based on the moves I make, everywhere I move, I can’t, I can’t go to serve, I can enter into certain spaces without seeing our work, our beauty, our brilliance, our insights stolen, you, you have to come up with policies and practices to exclude me, you have to pay your way into Ivy League colleges, you have to discount and discount different people doing community based work. All of those people are black and brown. So if I have to go through all those steps to exclude you that I must be fired, I must be bombed, I must be fantastic in some way. Because you can’t take it. You can’t take it. I have this admission scandal that blew up a lot of students are like, I never thought I could go to this this prestigious place. Or you know, they’re working really hard. When knowing I can tell you from research, there are elite universities that do not even recruit from certain zip codes. If you live in 4504, which is Flint, Michigan, where I’m from, they do Ivy League institutions did not come to my school of seeing my application. I worked in admissions, I worked with admissions counsellors, if there are certain zip codes, they don’t look. They don’t look and if they do, you are the token you are the most promising one you are you play the cello. So come on in. Right. And that sounds really silly. But this is literally how it gets down into the weeds. But what systemic and inequitable factors, are we ignoring that? Who had I didn’t play a cello? I didn’t have I didn’t get a cello. So how does that mean that I certainly cannot perform in these places no? In these very spaces that we discard are the ones who pull all of the pull all of our information and things from and we try to tout it as new. So this this is where I first experienced and Howard so rejected.
SPEAKER 1 27:40
I like how the two of you have shared your experiences. And what I’ve taken from that, as you’ve used these experiences to catapult you into more empowering situations. Right. And also, one of the things that I like is there was this point of recognizing that you shouldn’t internalize these experiences and these experiences are really being shaped by things that have absolutely nothing to do with you. Right. I know Shrien had a comment that she made into the chat that says are really she’s interested in reframing and work like this sense of worthiness into what does she feel about herself and what value does she know that she brings right in so starting to shift the lens a little bit? Okay, y’all. See, this is why I didn’t want to do like a long introduction, because we’re already like, into this. There’s so many more things that we need to cover. So I am going to I know that Justin dropped just a knock on here. I’m back on. Okay, great, great. I want to switch up our pace a little bit. And then I’m going to as I switch up the pace, I want to see what type of questions we have in the chat after we do our rapid fire, and we can start to answer some of those questions. So let’s go to rapid fire. So rapid fire is a way that we started to switch up our pace like I just mentioned, I’ll ask a series of simple questions to the panellists. For you to answer out loud, Aaron says this is his favourite part of the audience. Feel free to join in and play along and the chats. We have 90 seconds on the clock. So let’s go. Go. Now, last question. Sure. Okay. So what was your job before your current role?
SPEAKER 4 29:53
I was a career counsellor and the head of eLearning for a career center.
SPEAKER 2 30:01
I was a program manager at a university for a large student government program.
SPEAKER 3 30:08
I was a staff psychologist at Georgetown University Law School.
SPEAKER 1 30:13
What’s the best way to start the day?
SPEAKER 2 30:20
You can say pass
SPEAKER 1 30:23
That’s hard to answer in this this. This COVID ball, but it depends on what the day is.
SPEAKER 3 30:31
The best way or how I actually do it
SPEAKER 1 30:36
Either are Rosada says and express so I’m in the same thing. Tea, Best way start today.
SPEAKER 3 30:45
I’d say it’s good. It’s going good for me if I’ve done it if I’ve meditated to start the day, but doesn’t always go that way.
SPEAKER 2 30:51
Yeah, I’d say best way is meditation. But often I take it in the form of cold brew and a mug.
SPEAKER 1 30:57
Okay, okay. Chris is saying these days these days, just wake up. You know? Pick one dog, cat or plant.
SPEAKER 3 31:09
SPEAKER 2 31:10
SPEAKER 1 31:15
What’s your favourite childhood show?
SPEAKER 3 31:20
Oh, that’s hard. Any.
SPEAKER 2 31:22
There’s so many.
SPEAKER 1 31:24
Justin, we just need one.
SPEAKER 2 31:29
I say good times.
SPEAKER 3 31:31
SPEAKER 2 31:33
I’m rewatching sister on Netflix.
SPEAKER 3 31:38
I’m gonna go with animation when I was really young. Hey, Arnold.
SPEAKER 1 31:44
Okay, we have Fragile Rock in the audience. Okay, we’re [Inaudible] and we have isn’t our caleo as Chris he says about Albert. Okay. Boondocks, that’s a good one. Okay, let’s see there’s a puddle in your path. Do you walk around it? Step through it or step over?
SPEAKER 4 32:08
Kind of sneakers Do I have on? I’m probably jumping over it.
SPEAKER 2 32:14
Yeah, over it.
SPEAKER 3 32:15
SPEAKER 1 32:16
Okay, let’s see what’s your favourite self-care routine
SPEAKER 4 32:22
SPEAKER 3 32:29
Crochet grounding or earthling spacing, your bare feet, palms into the Earth’s soil and kind of breathe deeply or meditate. It’s really relaxing and actually has some physical health benefits as well.
SPEAKER 2 32:46
I’d say tending I’m gonna go back to my plants tending to my plants I read every day with sometimes it’s hard to stop the thoughts, thoughts from flowing into work, and so plant tending to my plants is a self-care routine for me.
SPEAKER 1 32:59
Okay, so Don Meeks as reading every night as well. Cool. Okay, and let me switch this off a little bit so we can read through it. Let’s see. What are you currently reading?
SPEAKER 2 33:13
Nothing I don’t have time to read.
SPEAKER 1 33:16
Or listening to system
SPEAKER 3 33:20
I just finished a book by bell hooks on masculinity. It’s called the world of change men masculinity and love. It’s phenomenal. And I just started white rage
SPEAKER 2 33:37
Read the will to change this summer. And I just hit play on Audible on such a fun as by Kylie Reed. And that one it I’m only like 15 minutes in and it’s hilarious. So.
SPEAKER 1 33:51
Okay, we have some people in the audience saying yes, bell hooks. And they’re reading diversity, Inc. Okay, last question. Cuz I know these 90 seconds on my real slow is on the internet. What’s the best place to find you LinkedIn Instagram or Twitter?
SPEAKER 2 34:14
Twitter for me for sure. Instagram, and my website. I’ll drop it in the chat. Okay.
SPEAKER 4 34:23
Yeah, for me, it’s Instagram and on LinkedIn. I’m a top voice so LinkedIn also.
SPEAKER 1 34:28
Okay. Cool. Cool. Good to know. Thank you all for participating. And the NASA rapid-fire Aaron says congratulations on being a top voice. We know that we have eloquent, eloquent rage. Elena is reading that right now. So we have some good book recommendations that just came in. Let me look into that in the chat because I know that live question So live says, I find that we can, that we can also find comfort in discrediting ourselves first, because of, because if we call out our feelings of inferior, inferior, inferior, inferior are at sorry all before others can. It’s like beating them to the punch. How can we move past these feelings and move beyond finding comfort in something so hurtful.
SPEAKER 3 35:28
I actually had a, Oh, I know that I’ll toss it over to Lisa, I actually had a thought based on something that you had shared earlier about how self-sabotage is a core part of imposter syndrome often, right, that can be one way in which it shows up. And I think this is a good example of how we critique ourselves tear ourselves down, so the other person wouldn’t. And you might wonder, like, why you would do that? I mean, this person is saying, in some ways, it lessens the blow, right? It lessens the blow of, of someone confirming your sense of being an imposter. But I would say also, that for some right, if you self-sabotage, you somehow have in the back of your mind, right, that there is an untapped a level of potential or talent. And that idea, right kind of like saves you from the sense that you’re completely worthless, right? It’s like, if I had did it, it would have been great, but I won’t do it. So I will find out. If I did put all my energy into it like I could, I can be successful, but I won’t try to do all put forth all of my energy to not self-sabotage myself. Because then I can hold on to this idea that maybe there’s this little like safety net around have shame, to buffer against, right. And so that’s self-sabotage, it’s a way of managing the anxiety of, of not being good enough and discovering that you’re an imposter. And I think the way forward is to acknowledge that acknowledge that fear that you have, and confront that fear, confront that fear around holding back, or reserving a part of you, so that you can feel like there’s still something left if someone were to call you an imposter. So that’s number one, acknowledging the fear. And I think also being able to remove yourself from the messages of your environment, and tap into a message that feels grounded in you, your purpose, your sense of meaning and position in this world, knowing beyond the shadow of a doubt that you are worthy, because you’re a human, and there is no one like you, right. And I think oftentimes, some people go to therapy, when it’s really challenging. And anxiety is a part of that. And that fear is so large, that inhibiting yourself is like the only way to manage it. Right? But there’s, there’s a way, especially as a person of color, that we have to detach from the messages that we’re feeling, and learn to turn into self and other people within our environment in our community, that know who we are that know our worth, and can support that message. And that, that level of confidence, aside from what we’re receiving from our environment. And I’ll toss it over to you, Lisa.
SPEAKER 4 38:02
Well, I agree with everything you said I would, I would, I would kind of it reminds me of this quote by Amit Ray, you are not your thoughts, you are the observer of your thoughts. And part of your job, when you’re sort of engaging this behaviour of like diminishing yourself in in an environment is to ask yourself, why are you doing that? What is it serving? Is it serving your goals? Is it serving something particular? You know, because it can be serving something very particular. And you might want to keep it not that it’s healthy to keep it but you know, you just have to ask yourself these things. So for example, a lot of people will say to me, I often diminish myself, because I don’t want to look like I that I’m better than or I’m trying to show off or trying to put myself forward like that I want to fit in. And you got to ask yourself, why are you fitting in? What does this mean? How do you understand that? Is it serving you? What is it gaining you like so kind of really processing out why you’re doing certain behaviours and certain contexts being to understand them? One of the things that I often say too, is like if it if it isn’t serving you, and this sounds really silly, but it’s a very useful technique. You want to thank the particular old bad coping mechanism and be grateful for it say thank you for serving me in the ways that you have in the past. But I’m going to go in a way, you know, because in some ways, you have to let go of something that feels really safe and feels very protective in ways that may be have may have negative consequences for you. But I think honouring it can be a very helpful thing as you let it go and say, I don’t really need you anymore. I’m looking for something different now. And so really kind of thinking about what it’s doing and how it’s serving and then how you are going to shift it. But it takes a lot of consciousness and really being able to when you feel triggered to engage the behaviour. So automatically stopping before you do that and sort of asking the questions first and then responding, or at least evaluating and after you’ve done it and so it just a lot of these behaviours require a stepping back and a sort of really analysis of what’s going on and why it’s going on and how you’re going to shift it.
SPEAKER 3 40:00
At least I really, really love that being an observer of our thoughts and not necessarily being our thoughts, right, we can just kind of observe it, we would all do so well to just be curious to just be curious about ourselves and why we are, how we are, why we do the things that we do, why we think the things that we think, why we have the level of self-esteem that we have what’s wrong with being a standout? Right? What’s wrong with being unique? What’s wrong for that person who’s like, well, I don’t want to seem like I’m better than what what’s, what’s wrong with being really, really good? Right? Like, what’s scary about that? And just being curious about it? And also, right, like, what you’re hinting to is part of what I alluded to, in the beginning, when I said like, you know, oftentimes those voices of criticism, mimic voices that we’ve heard before we get it, honestly, whether it be through our education system, as Dr. Clyde has mentioned, or through our parenting where we’re not allowed to be wrong, right? We’re not allowed to fail. We’re not allowed to learn through mistakes or getting or not getting the correct answer, right. And so we and we internalize that and like, kind of hold ourselves to that same standard. But we can kind of maybe that was useful. At one point, right? Maybe it was so useful for us to make sure that we got it right. Because of the circumstances that we were in, maybe those defenses that criticism, that’s shame, maybe it’s served a purpose, and can you appreciate what it’s done for you during that time, while also acknowledging and being curious about how it could be interrupting you at this point. And then in that process, right, start to grieve, and let it go and develop other ways of coping, defending, managing the things that you come up against. I love that because we have to appreciate ourselves as human and there is function and all of the things that we that, that we do all the things that we portray as human beings, right, and let’s be curious about that function, understand it. And through that investigation, you know, kind of make decisions, negotiate with ourselves around what it is that we’d like to continue to do, or what it is that we’d like to change.
SPEAKER 2 42:05
So that I add in, am I an imposter? Or do I just not know anything about this? Its okay to not know me critical self-reflection is so important to me. Because one you need to ask to what am I trying to the long? Why am I fighting so hard to get into this particular space? And what negotiations what do I have to give up in order to be there? So that sometimes it’s simply just I don’t I was an advisor that worked with nurses, my professional experiences are I could talk about advising practice in higher education all day long. Was I a nurse though? No. So what did I have to go do learn all there was to know about advising nursing students? How what is it that they are going to come up against? Does that mean, I don’t know anything? Or I’m an imposter and I don’t belong in this position? No. The other thing is and we have to this is this flow with me. So if How is it that? In what ways have I made someone else feel like an imposter? Right? Am I quick to critique? Am I quick to offer a counter? How am I showing up that breeds in ways that breed this too. And so when you start to interrogate how you practice how you go about this, then you can better identify your own triggers? So my students, I think that they are balm, I think, when they come in, you are brilliant, you know, that, you know, and let’s figure this navigate this space together. I’m not looking at them through a deficit lens, like what is it that you’re lacking, that I’ve got to give you in order for you to survive? Now? How do you thrive based on what you already know, and what you can gain along the way, take what’s helpful, leave the rest. I don’t, I’m not a clinical psychologist. So I’m not going to come into the space knowing more about clinical psychology than a trained clinical psychologist. But I know a lot about educational leadership. Right? So it’s only your experience and being confident in your experience, and allow somebody else to do some work. So that perfectionism keeps us working and spinning our wheels and tiring ourselves out over and over and over and over again. And a lot of times that work isn’t ours is somebody else’s. And we are neglecting our own contributions, because we are so concerned about what someone’s going to think or what someone’s going to say, or, or I’m not going to be able to continue on this particular project or task or I can’t apply to that program, because I don’t know, you know, these different things pay attention to what you do know.
SPEAKER 4 44:39
Yeah. And that is brilliant cloud. I mean, I really appreciate that. And like, I think, you know, it’s so important to really begin to also understand the roles in which we take up with imposter syndrome that have that benefit us in some way that perpetuate the imposter syndrome. Like we like to be the superhero at work. We like to be the one that can stop Move down and manage everything take care of everything. But is that really serving us, you know, is that really doing really good for us or the people around us or we’d like to be the soloist like, you know, person who kind of can manage it all on their own doesn’t need help, doesn’t need to work with a team, you know, what is that serving to reinforce the imposter syndrome, even though it may be benefiting you in some way, you really have to look at both sides of it, the ways in which it has benefited us. And also the ways in which it is detrimental force if you want to break it, you’ve got to take on new roles. And like Clive was saying like roles where you are the learner rules where you are being helped roles where you are on team, but you’re not the lead roles where you take up visible leadership, but like you have to be versatile in your in the way that you take up roles and not get these very narrow, because the reason why we get in these very narrow roles is because in our childhoods, we were assigned to these narrow roles, the imposter syndrome, there’s three variants that are very, very common in childhood, one you were seen as the really smart one. But really smart meant that you didn’t have to work hard, and then that every time you worked hard, it was evidence that you were an imposter. To was like you were the one who worked hard, nothing came easy to you. So as a result, you had a kill yourself to do anything. And so you feel like you have no natural skill or talent. And the third one is that you grew up in an environment where there wasn’t a lot of parental support. So in order to survive, you had to you had to kind of do things, in order to survive in your environment, you had to kind of achieve at really high levels, because nobody was looking. And so like, you know, these kinds of things can get us really siloed these experiences can get us very siloed in roles that are unhealthy for us, you know, but also we sometimes benefit from which is the tricky piece of them. Hmm.
SPEAKER 1 46:42
I think you all have covered a bevy of questions that people have been wondering and as in and as we start to wrap up, I like to take the next three minutes or so. So go into a little bit of more details on what people can do to come to combat their imposter syndrome. So we’ve already talked about critical self-reflection, being compassionate with yourself, and, and others, essentially letting go of perfectionism, letting go of negative thoughts, paying attention to what you know, versus what you don’t know. Are there any other things that we can add to that, so that people can actively manage their imposter syndrome?
SPEAKER 4 47:34
When I would add a couple things. One is that you need to have a team around you like you need to have, like a community. What are the things that the research says about people, black people who experience imposter syndrome is that they need community of other black people. And so you need other black people around you who can support you in whatever domain you’re struggling. And oftentimes, it’s relates to work, but whatever domain academics work, you need a team of people and they got to fit different types of roles, that so they can support you. And oftentimes, it’s very hard for us to reveal that we’re struggling with this, but we need community is so central to recovering from imposter syndrome. The second thing I would say is the number two, the second thing I would think about is automatic negative thoughts. So we were just talking about negative self-talk that we talk about them as psychologists answer and automatic negative thoughts. And you know, combating those ants takes a process it takes recognizing the ant. And for example, an ant is like, you know, I made a mistake, everyone thinks I’m an idiot, right. And so that particular thought is an irrational thought to what’s happened to making the mistake. Part of what our job is, is to learn to see the thought we were talking about looking at and observing and then being able to kind of look for the data and question the thought, where’s the data that everyone thinks I’m an idiot? Did anyone say that I was an idiot, like, started to look at the thought think about is there an alternative point of view? Is there another way to look at it, and then come up with what we call rational response? I, you know, I didn’t I don’t know everyone thinks I’m an idiot, I made a mistake. I don’t even know if anyone even noticed. You know. And so I think it’s really coming up with learning how to rationally respond to these thoughts that are so well ingrained in our mind-set that we don’t sometimes even hear them. They we just respond to them behaviourally, we don’t even hear them, but slowing down to hear them. And then the other piece, I would say is like self-care. So one of the things that people with imposter syndrome really struggle with is taking care of themselves or even noticing when they have to take care of themselves. When you ask them what their self-care routines as soon as they look at you, like you’re like speaking another language because they just don’t understand what that even means. And I’m talking about not Netflix and chill, but I’m talking about like, like, tasks and behaviours that replenish that fill the tank that help you feel kind of like you buoyed like, but really structuring, think about those tasks that really help you to kind of like, you know, be like gain more and not feel completely depleted. And so I think those are a couple things that we didn’t mention. I will plug my book and say that in my book, there are nine steps to combating the imposter syndrome. But yes, like, I think that we’ve covered a lot of them.
SPEAKER 1 50:13
Absolutely. And we can send a link to your book in the follow up emails, any other things?
SPEAKER 3 50:20
Yeah, I’ll just at least that was like great. I was like nodding along like amen choir over here. Because these are, these are all things that, that I would talk about with patients who experienced this as well, right? Like we, we all have a certain. We all have certain emotional and cognitive tendencies that we default to, right. And those automatic thoughts that we have, like, we have millions of thoughts like all that all the time, they happen really rapidly, and they impact and determine our behaviour or emotions or self-esteem, right? So we’ve got to slow down that process, to be really clear on what kind of messages we’re taking in and integrating, internalizing into how we experience ourselves. And we do that by being a participant observer of our thoughts, like you said, right, and really considering them, and being curious about them. So I really, really loved how you put it, I can only echo what you what you said, and encourage people to just consider themselves in a humanistic way, or it can consider yourself as a full person acknowledge that we all bring with us our past experiences, and can only be curious about why we are the way that we are and learn about ourselves. And also slowdown that process of maintaining certain dynamics, confronting fears that keep those dynamics in place. And consider how we might change. And whether we want to write, maybe it’s serving its purpose to feel like an imposter. And you’re not, you don’t want to let that go. But how freeing and liberating it is to say, I’m choosing this now. It’s not acting on me. But it’s now my choice, right? And so when we’re curious, when we’re willing to kind of observe ourselves, it gives us more choice and more autonomy, about what kind of messages we really want to continue to take in and also embody.
SPEAKER 2 52:11
And the last one thing, I think everything I would say, has been articulated, I think, I’m a big advocate of reading. And so when I say things like, like, I truly believe that black people are the standard I that comes from reading and reflecting and looking at truly critically analyzing what’s going on. So am I feeling like an imposter, because of my own conclusions? Or are there some systems and structures that would make me feel this way? We’ve had black scholars, I mean, Bell Hooks has been named James Baldwin, like you can you can go there, you can go to more recent publications, people reflecting on their experiences in the workplace. I mean, even the live in corporate platform talks and speaks to a lot of these experiences that black and brown people are naming. And so you are not out of your mind to be having these feelings. But you also can raise your critique to a systems level. So you don’t internalize those messages. You can contextualize your experiences when I’m talking about, you know, this admission scandal. And you read about that, it’s like, well, the odds were stacked against me getting into the school anyway. Right? So is it is it about me, and how I didn’t take AP English in my junior year or that where I never was, I never did I never have a shot from the beginning. You know, those are kind of things, the kind of things that we have to pay attention to that that can inform us, and contextualize the things that we are experiencing.
SPEAKER 3 53:38
That very much brought to my to like, Lisa, what you were saying about, like having your support system, right reading can be a part of that, like, you know, kind of taking in more facts than just your own thoughts, right, and learning about the way that there are certain things that are stacked against you learning about how there are people in charge that make a ton of mistakes and can be irresponsible, right? Like, it kind of helps when you’re you know, when you’re comparing yourself to these unrealistic standards of perfection, to also incorporate other information that that really right denies that. But that really, that really shows that there are other standards out there that that really were you don’t have to be perfect, right. So I think having that support system haven’t taken in other information. That’s all very important to instead of getting consumed in one’s thoughts about not being enough.
SPEAKER 1 54:38
I absolutely appreciate everyone’s perspective. This has been a great conversation. I know I have a ton of notes, and I’ve dyed it down. I hope the audience has had an opportunity to take away some very valuable insights. I want to keep us to our time we’re at 11 o’clock on the diet. Justin, Lisa and Clyde, I want to say thank you for being here with us today. And just providing your perspectives and experience on this topic to our audience. Thank you for actively participating in this discussion, I have a special request. So if you join the chat, five minutes earlier, you would have heard some Beyond Sight playing because I’m trying to give you all Virgo five, okay. It is Virgo season. Yesterday was sex are they and today is my birthday. And our request is that you, you help to continue to spread the work that we’re doing, either by providing feedback on this particular session, writing review on about the podcast, donating to our Kickstarter campaign. I either sharing with your network, what we’re doing, dropping us a note, just for encouragement, but just know that we need your support. In order to help us continue to develop this platform. I want to put drop our couple of links into the chat for you all to just browse our included in the follow up email that we send. Just again, we aren’t entitled to your support. But if we have helped you in any type of way, please let us know by supporting us. And I think you all I think you check us out on all of the social medias. I like to say social Medias, on Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, we also have a podcast or a lot of new things coming your way. There’s a new webinar series as getting kicked off next week with Tristan and team focused on young professionals and college students. And so we’re just growing on all capacities and we like for you to continue to grow with us. Thank you, everyone.
SPEAKER 2 57:09
Happy Birthday Nubiana.
SPEAKER 3 57:14
Phenomenal job to our panellists. Thank you all.
SPEAKER 4 57:18
Thank you for having me.
SPEAKER 1 57:22
SPEAKER 2 57:28