Let me ask you this: what is the story you are telling yourself that you are afraid –yes afraid to let go of?
There is a lot of talk about impostor syndrome. The impostor story is based on feelings of not being good enough, unworthy, a fraud. It’s a one-sided story the patriarchy peddles to keep people in their place and always striving to get ahead but never making it so they have to keep trying harder. Patriarch is certainly male oriented and dominated because when agriculture created surplus was created in the 8000-3000 BC males seized control of the surplus. This led to the beginnings of militarization. Power and Control became the story. How much you had control of was the measure of your value. More land meant more resource, more people meant more strength, more women –themselves now regarded as property valued for their ability to reproduce. Previously in a matriarchal society woman where revered as Goddesses for their ability to create life and organize community. But this doesn’t redress balance or natural system of equality and respect. Subservient worshipers who fear your power to bless or curse is not healthy either.
The age of the ‘archy’ is over. Whether it’s patriarchy, matriarchy or hierarchy. In the Indigenous cultures such as the Iroquois with gender fluid roles balanced agreements between the families and tribes forged duties shared by all with the well being of the people as the goal. That is our core duty isn’t it? The well being of the planet and each other? And how does the work you do contribute to this? When the women would come out of the moon lodge the men were waiting and they would ask ‘what did you see?’ the women would share their visions their dreams; the men would say ‘ah, now we know what to do.’
An impostor is who? Someone who feels they don’t belong or deserve. Being clever people they go about fixing the problem by various methods that keep you treading in a rut. Perfectionism becomes your story, Superwoman/man, Lucky, Lone Wolf, Expert. Whatever story you tell yourself the ending it always out of reach and the events never seem to progress.
Now ask yourself this: How is this Story Serving YOU? What do you get out of the story of ‘I don’t belong, so I’ll go it alone – I don’t need anybody…’ The Lone Wolf story that sees asking for help or trusting anyone as weakness and leaving the door open for the next chapter in the story –a reprise of a previous chapter: the story of betrayal. It’s cold comfort being the victim and leaves only two escape routes – persecutor or rescuer. The Lucky Bitch story – so many people tell this one ‘…oh I just fell into it… I was lucky’ Somehow it doesn’t account for how events prepared you for the fall or the several other things you didn’t do.
What’s the anecdote?
There are so many stories we tell ourselves to talk ourselves out of something or make excuses –even for our own success. The most important story we tell is the one we tell ourselves. Let me run a few short stories with familiar repeatable set-ups and pay-offs:
Starving Artist / Tortured Artist– the arts don’t pay. You should do it for the love of it. You have to suffer for your art. Pay your dues and if you create something of value it must be a fluke. People stuck in this story are like the Little Match Girl illuminated for just a moment then the flame goes out. Elizabeth Gilbert has written extensively on this myth in her book BIG MAGIC and surprises us with the idea of instead of identifying with the long suffering martyr character why not adapt the Trickster character and pursue your art with wit and curiosity. Just by adopting a more proactive character allows you to explore different choices which turns the plot in a different direction.
What comfort are you getting from being the ‘Survivor’ ‘The Good Girl’ or ‘Superwoman’ ‘The Impostor’ ‘Crazy Creative’ does it allow you to stay stuck, small? Excuse your behavior? Keep you safe? Never complete anything and put it out there?
My challenge to you is look at the story you are telling yourself. What is the burden, the illusion you labor under. How is it serving you? What’s the payoff? Then observe how you set yourself up to replay this story again and again.
My next challenge is to take the next gap that opens up, the next crossroads you come to where a choice needs to be made and change characters. Instead of Expert try the role of Questioner. Get curious, probe beyond the expected ‘right answer’. When you make a different choice you allow new possibilities. Instead of a rut you may just find your groove and write the next chapter.