Hi I'm Leonie, Collector of feathers, pebbles, words and adventures, with an overactive mind and a sunshine-filled heart.

This blog is all about: NATURE ~ RUNNING ~ ART ~ FOOD ~ LOVE ~ SELF-DISCOVERY

Crushing your negative self: adventures in impostor syndrome

"Life is a difficult assignment. We are fragile creatures, expected to function at high rates of speed, and asked to accomplish great and small things each day. These daily activities take enormous amounts of energy. Most things are out of our control. We are surrounded by danger, frustration, grief, and insanity as well as love, hope, ecstasy, and wonder. 

Being fully human is an exercise in humility, suffering, grace, and great humor. Things and people all around us die, get broken, or are lost. There is no safety or guarantees."

Isn't that an arrow-to-the-heart piece of writing? It's from this quirkily titled book by a lady with the middle name 'Rainbow' (questionable) which I haven't yet read (the self-help section of my bookshelf is decidedly sparse), however I stumbled on the quote above and thought it was very powerful, and so descriptive of the inner turmoil of life. 

We certainly are fragile creatures; some more than others - and some (like me) who swing between fragile and strong. Two seemingly opposite outlooks on life existing in the one mind is exhausting, but every day I learn a tiny bit more about how to manage and defuse my own self-generated negativity. Taking your own bad ju-ju out of the equation makes it remarkably easier to manage the day to day sensory processing nightmare that is life. 

I am an onion inside an onion

For a long time I've dealt with multiple selves. Not in a Me, Myself and Irene kind of way, mind you. Just a nebulous, untethered, 'who am I?' kind of way. Depending on who I am around, the time of year, how busy I am, what I've eaten, how people have interacted with me and all sorts of other factors I can fluctuate between believing I am a wise, intelligent, graceful soul with unwavering strength.... or a flaky, weak, lame excuse for a human who is too embarrassed to even speak. 

Logic tells me that the former is true. Of course I am a worthy person. I am a beautiful and unique snowflake. My daytime mind knows this. 

But my nighttime mind; the one that surfaces when I'm not looking after myself emotionally, physically or spiritually is ever present, trying to shut me down and make me fall into old patterns of negativity. It pumps poisonous self-defeating talk into my ears, it hunches my shoulders and grips my throat. My thoughts change my body, then my body changes my thoughts, in an endless self-defeating cycle. 

What would Freud say

Why does this happen? For many years I thought my nighttime mind was the real one, and my daytime mind was just me being egotistical and narcissistic. As I've grown older, I feel the balance is more even: both positive and negative are parts of a whole, but the difference is that now I know I can influence one over the other - as long as I take care of myself. 

It's an actual thing

And I've learnt that it's not just me - I suspect that nearly everyone feels the same. It's even got a name, this nighttime mind: impostor syndrome. Imagine the ray of sunlight I felt stream down on me when I discovered that. Psychology aside (and trust me, I've analysed the hell out of this), I don't know the core answer of what causes my mind to throw up self-defeating barriers at every turn, but I do know my triggers. I've learned (and am still learning) how to keep my focus on the upside, and keep my negativity on a leash. 

I have learned that if I don't speak my mind, my mind will eventually get pissed off and try to destroy me.

I tend not to rock boats. I am more concerned about people's feelings than almost any other thing on earth. So, I avoid 'upsetting' people. But you know what? Disagreeing with someone isn't always 'being rude'. Explaining that something doesn't sit right with you isn't 'a personal attack on a friend'. My opinion needs to be expressed. If not, it will simmer and twist and explode either inwardly or outwardly.

I have learned that what I know is almost exactly proportionate to what other people know. 

We all know different things, sure - but others are not smarter than me, more witty, more 'together'. Mostly, folks are just folks. As long as I keep telling myself that my ideas, my thoughts, my feelings are just as valid as the next person's, then I'm ok. 

A bad day does not equal a bad life. 

I need to hold on to perspective. As someone who tends to analyse everything, it's hard not to think of the what ifs... to extrapolate from 'I ate a cupcake' to 'I'm weak and have no self-control'. This is bullshit. Life is purely a series of moments sewn together; not every single one can be - needs to be - should be -  perfect. See it for what it is, breathe, and move on. 

Deliberate practice is the key. 

I like this phrase, deliberate practice. Everything you do, once done long enough, starts to seem natural, even though it might not be. This is how the nighttime mind came about in the first place. I talked to myself negatively so long that it became normal. 

I can't bear positive affirmations in the mirror or anything quite that trite but I do repeatedly try and work on a new set of describing words for myself. Not weak, human. Not shy, thoughtful. Not gangly, slender. Not immature, playful. 

How do you encourage your positive self to shine? 

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