Posts in Self Care
From the Trenches of Imposter Syndrome

I had a wakeup call recently. Someone told me “Stop focusing on what you’re not” and it hit me square in the chest. I was sitting there wishing to be one of those CEO, Type-A women who always has her life together (and color coded), and is somehow always ten steps ahead of the game. I was seeing my failures in BOLD.

What was so kindly pointed to me was that what I admired about these women were their strengths. BUT just because I didn’t share those same strengths didn’t mean I did have my own strengths or my own pieces of my life together.

It’s not what I wanted to hear. I wanted to hear a “You’ll be like that someday with enough hard work.” I wrap my head up in these ideas that some day I’ll run my life “like a boss.” Really though, even if I stopped and listened to my own advice that I’ve shared with you, I already know the way back to peace and contentment.

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Being strong and successful is not about matching someone else’s abilities. It’s not about making the same type of impact as another woman I admire. It’s not about pushing myself to be something. It IS about realizing that I’m built a specific way. It’s realizing I have my own strengths which I need to celebrate and not ignore or demean because they are different than what strengths I think I should have. It’s remembering that life is a journey and the “end game” isn’t even the end game. I just need to focus on being the best me. After all, I am me and I was made to make a specific difference. I have my own pace, my own path and I need to accept who I am and where I’m at.

(Sincerely,
Self)

No, really though, I’m writing this to myself and to anyone else who feels this way. Don’t just tell other people how great they are and that they have wonderful strengths. Make sure to celebrate your OWN strengths. Encourage yourself, lift yourself up, be real about what you’re going through and hold space for what’s happening in you. Be your own wakeup call.

People are People

A friend shared some heartbreaking news with me recently. News that, while it didn't directly affect me and my every day, brought up an old deep heartache. This heartache brought back a mantra I say multiple times a day and is something I want to share with you - if you haven't heard me say it already (which, if you spend any time around me, you've definitely heard it).

People are people.

Yes, I know this is obvious but, sometimes I need to remind myself that we are all humans, inherently flawed, each dealing with our own burdens and struggles. We all are acting from our own perspectives, our own personal history, our own hurt and life experiences. We each have needs, wants, desires, unique ways we are fulfilled, unique ways we are gifted and unique ways we respond to the life happening in and around us. Each and every one of us are in need of unconditional love, grace, forgiveness and understanding. 

I remind myself when the person in the checkout line in front of me does something to annoy me, "people are people, Alyson, be kind and understand that you have no idea what type of day they've had or what they're going home to or anything else that may be going on in their life;" When the person driving erratically does something rash, "Breathe, Alyson. People are people. You don't know why they are in a hurry or what/who is depending on them or why they're making this decision." To myself when someone takes what I say or do negatively "People are people, Alyson. You may have hit a nerve, not been sensitive, or could have handled the situation better. Maybe they're having a bad day. You don't know why they're reacting like they are. Be gracious, show them love, stop judging, know where you're coming from and do what you are able to help the situation and encourage them." This saying comes to mind all the time.

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It also comes to mind when I hear news like today of a young pastor committing suicide, a pain that hits close to home as I've been in the congregation of a beloved, godly, inspiring pastor who made the same decision. The truth is, depression doesn't use discretion. It doesn't say "well, you're a pastor. So, I'll leave you alone." In fact, with the weight pastors and church staff carry, it's likely that the struggle with depression may be found more right there amongst our incredible church leaders.

When it comes to depression and struggle and pain, people are people. Just because people have a certain status, job title, influence, or wealth - they are not immune to the negativity of life. At the most basic level, we are all human - all judgements, differences, and prejudices aside - we are people. We all struggle. We all experience hurt. We all need to experience kindness, to be encouraged. Everyone... everyone... needs love and support.

I have a Secret
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I have a secret. I'm a recovering people pleaser. Yup. I used to bend over backwards and even circle back around to make people happy. I would constantly sacrifice myself and sacrifice my family. I wanted to make everyone happy and have everyone to like me.

I ruined myself being a "people pleaser." I also damaged my relationships that mattered. The people who were repeatedly taking from me weren't my true friends and family. These people may have seemed like friends before I realized what was truly happening, the lack of balance of give and take in our relationship, and my true friends and family suffered.

I learned my lesson the hard way when I put my family in a tight spot. I realized what I was doing to them. That I wasn't nurturing our relationships as I should because I was draining myself into other people, people who didn't care if I ran dry. I realized that it wasn't okay to allow my family to be treated that way and, therefore, it wasn't okay for me to be treated that way either. So, I quit the trait.

It's quite an adjustment, stepping away and setting boundaries. I've struggled with the guilt of saying "no." I feel ashamed and selfish and can get down on myself. Then, I remind myself to look at the situation from someone else's perspective. If I substitute someone in my place and play out the same scenario and come to the same conclusion that "no" is an okay answer, I can tell my self-doubting-insecurities that I'm not wrong. If it truly turns out to be a selfish situation, I change my attitude and my answer.

I use this same tactic of building my self respect and self value when it comes to people's approval of me. There are definitely people I desire to have approval from - family, friends and peers. That's just the people-pleaser nature in me. There have been times that I've questioned my value because someone else doesn't acknowledge it. I've let their "disapproval" swallow me and deter me.

My biggest realization? That's on me. It's my job to always do my best, no matter if it's noticed or acknowledged. It's my responsibility to know and build my worth. It's my responsibility to set boundaries, keep them and react properly when they are pushed.  Most importantly, it's my responsibility to harbor love in my heart, always, for others and myself.

So, you know that specific affirmation you're looking for from that one person or group? You don't need it. Would it be nice to have? Yes. Would you appreciate and treasure it? Of course. Would that affirmation make you any more valuable? NO. You are already valuable. If you're thinking about and seeking that affirmation it's because some part of you already knows and believes you deserve it. Don't rely on someone else to confirm your value. 

#embracingme