It’s been a week since I returned home from co-facilitating my first retreat in Tulum, Mexico.
There’s a ton that I still need to integrate from my time there (it was amazing), but I thought I’d share with you one major lesson from teaching in person for the first time.
It has to do with imposter syndrome.
A thing I thought I had under raps before landing in Tulum.
Imposter Syndrome and I have been buddies for a while. Ever since my business went full time, she's been a constant voice in my head.
“Who are you to be doing this? You’re not qualified enough. Smart enough. You aren’t getting people real results. What you do isn’t even real. You can’t handle this. You’re a fraud. Fraud. Fraud. Fraud. Fraud.”
I’ve done a ton of work around quieting her.
But teaching in person for the first time, well, that brought some new stuff to the table. She became loud again.
Suddenly I had six women right in front of me, I could touch them, who paid a lot of money to see some results.
When I realized this--the moment I first saw them lounging by the ocean and took it in that they were here to learn from me--my nervous system went into overdrive.
THE STAKES FELT HIGHER THAN THEY HAD EVER BEEN.
Everything became about pleasing them. Taking care of them. Making sure they were ok.
I started empathically reading everyone.
How are they feeling? Do they need water? Is this content what they need? Are they enjoying themselves? Maybe they need more free time.
For the entire first day of the retreat, this didn’t stop.
When I tried to sleep, my mind was still running about each detail of what I taught, what we ate, and how I acted.
I barely slept.
The next morning, my mind still running, I felt like I got hit by a truck.
I HAD THIS MOMENT WHILE LOOKING IN THE MIRROR: DO YOU REALLY WANT YOUR FIRST RETREAT TO BE LIKE THIS? PSYCHOANALYZING LIKE A MANIAC?
No. No I didn’t.
I closed my eyes and asked myself why I was doing this, why was I trying to predict and control everything?
“Because if you don’t, you don’t think you’ll be enough.”
And there she was. The imposter.
But this time a little sweeter. She was tired too.
I realized that my desire to control the retreat came from the same place most of my issues in my business and life came from:
I THOUGHT I HAD TO BE PERFECT TO BE LOVED.
And if I wasn’t loved, I was a fraud.
Suddenly imposter syndrome took on a new meaning: a part of me still felt really really unlovable. Shameful for taking up space.
She felt like she needed to hide behind perfect. Like she wasn’t ok just as she was.
I had this moment where I realized that for as long as my business had been thriving, I had been trying to push past and quiet the voice that was screaming for my attention.
This is what every article told me:
"Imposter Syndrome is just a part of entrepreneurship. Keep on keepin’ on."
And I listened. It made sense.
But with that mindset, I was ignoring a huge part of me.
The part that felt deeply deeply flawed.
I REALIZED THAT THE ONLY WAY THE WOMEN ATTENDING THE RETREAT, OR MY CLIENTS AS A WHOLE, WERE GOING TO FEEL SAFE AND LOVED IN MY PRESENCE, WAS IF I FELT SAFE AND LOVED IN MY PRESENCE. INCLUDING THE PART OF ME THAT FELT LIKE A FRAUD.
I realized that focusing all of my attention on everyone else was taking away from the one who needed my attention the most: myself.
And that the only way this retreat was going to be what I wanted it to be, was if I turned all of that outward giving and pleasing and loving toward myself.
Even to the parts I hated.
That started with giving my inner imposter some space to be heard.
So I stood in my hotel room and I listened to what she needed.
This is all I heard:
“Pay attention to me.”
SHE JUST WANTED ME TO LISTEN TO WHY SHE DIDN'T FEEL GOOD ENOUGH.
She wanted me to stop running from how she felt, via perfectionism and control and people pleasing and over giving.
I had been running for a long time.
When I gave her the space to talk and for me to listen, I could finally relax.
And when I could relax I started to feel like enough of a teacher, because I gave the part of me who didn’t, the attention she deserved.
And in turn, I felt like I was enough just as I was. Because I had accepted myself just as I was: I felt like I wasn’t enough.
There it was. The truth.
And because I was finally being present with my whole self, not just the parts I approved of, I was able to be much more present with one of the best experiences of my life.
And so much more present for those attending it.
There’s a ton, like a ton, of articles out there on how to deal with imposter syndrome.
And a lot of the advice is really really solid.
But most of it only scratches the surface with quick action and to do steps. The relief is temporary.
IF YOU FEEL LIKE AN IMPOSTER, THERE'S A PART OF YOU THAT REALLY FEELS LIKE AN IMPOSTER. THAT HURTS. THAT'S REALLY UNCOMFORTABLE. CHANCES ARE THAT PART OF YOU NEEDS SOME ATTENTION.
Her voice may be disguised as nasty, but like anyone who is angry, underneath the meanness is usually pain. A piece of you desiring to be witnessed in how bad that pain really is.
For me, that pain was I am not enough just as I am.
That pain was a lot easier to mask when I was sitting behind a screen.
But once I got in person, and these women could really see me, I really got a chance to see myself.
How for most of my life, I’ve used perfectionism, people pleasing, and control, to cope with how much of a fraud I felt like I was.
Ignite The Retreat showed me so much of myself as a leader and a teacher and a mentor. It also showed me so much about myself as a human.
A little girl yearning for love.
HAVING YOUR OWN BUSINESS, DOING WHAT YOU'RE CALLED TO DO, IS FIRST AND FOREMOST A HEALING JOURNEY.
Take things slow.
Listen to the one who doesn’t feel good enough.
WHERE YOU FEEL LIKE A FRAUD IS A PORTAL TO YOUR DEEPEST PAIN. LET IT TAKE YOU THERE.
Give yourself the attention you need.
Only when you do that can you truly be of service to others.
Only when all of you feels safe and loved, can those who you’re helping feel the same.