Thursday 12 May 2022

I'm Feeling the Fear and Doing It Anyway

Today it’s my turn to write about having confidence wobbles. I’m in the process of writing courses (as well as some other exciting stuff that I will hopefully be able to talk about soon) and it has woken up my imposter syndrome. It’s taken me much longer to get to the point where I’m ready to start putting things together to market this course because: 

  • Who the hell am I to write courses? 
  • Doesn’t everybody know what I know? 
  • Do I really have anything to share that people don’t know already?

Friday 15 April 2022

Who Gets to Decide If You Have Helped?

It has been far too long since I blogged here. A few things have been going on, positive and negative, and some of them things that have brought my own imposter syndrome raging to the forefront of my mind.

Wednesday 4 August 2021

The Link Between Anxious Dogs and Imposter Syndrome

The majority of people I know reading this blog are dog people, so this time I’m going to talk a little about dog training and behaviour methods as understood by kind and ethical canine professionals, and how that applies to us with our imposter syndrome. It’s a topic that has come up in a few of the workshops* that I have run, and so I think it’s worth exploring here.

Dogs Have Emotions Too

I know this comes as no surprise to the educated dog people among us. For a long time many refused to believe in the idea of dogs having emotions and personalities. The perception of dogs was that a single dog varied only minimally from every other dog. The concept of individuality was not one applied to dogs.

We are now far more aware of our dogs’ emotional capacities – proof having come in the form of functional MRI scans, analysing the brain activity of dogs in real time. Training dogs to wear ear protection and lay perfectly still for a scan is also a fantastic illustration of the power of positive reinforcement reward based training.

We know that our dogs have the cognitive ability roughly equivalent to a human toddler, and they experience some of the same emotions as us (although not so much the higher emotions – that dog in the funny video with the ‘guilty’ expression is not feeling guilty but trying to appease the humans so bad stuff doesn’t happen to them). Our dogs can be happy, sad, frustrated, and scared. Dogs can also experience anxiety, and this is where the discussion of canine emotion and imposter syndrome meets.

Most canine professionals working as trainers or behaviour practitioners (and a proportion of dog guardians) encounter dogs with anxiety or fear related behaviours. We understand that these are not failings on the part of the dogs, but are the result of a whole combination of potential causes: genetics, epigenetics, prior learning and experiences to name the most commonly discussed factors in canine reactive behaviours.

A Connection Between Reactive Dogs and Imposter Syndrome?

We understand as experienced dog people that reactive behaviours, those times when dogs may show what looks like aggressive behaviours, or try to run away or hide from something are based in fear and stress. When these things are encountered repeatedly, a dog can become anxious. This means that rather than reacting to something stressful that is obvious in the environment, the dog is anticipating the stress arriving. Stress is building before there is even anything concrete to be stressed about.

Sound familiar?

All of the anticipating things going wrong. Stressing about events that haven’t even happened yet. Worrying about showing ourselves up when there is no actual need. Thinking we don’t know enough when we absolutely do.

Be Kind to Yourself

Isn’t it time we started applying the kindness and gentle methods we use with scared and anxious dogs to ourselves?

Just as we don’t blame anxiety and fear on the scared dogs, we shouldn’t keep beating ourselves up about imposter syndrome. The same basic physiological processes underlying the stress response take place in both our canine friends and us. Those same innate reactions triggered by the approach of something stressful. We are both mammals, with the same structures in our bodies and brains, although laid out a little differently to account for the different number of limbs and different evolutional origins and paths.

For scared and anxious dogs, we take the pressure off. We give them a break, to let the stress hormones drop back down and let the body recover from that stressed state. We work on building their confidence and resilience, letting them learn that they are safe, that they have choices, and that the world isn’t the scary place they took it to be. We need to find ways to give ourselves at least a little of that.

If nothing else, a bit of counter conditioning by applying your treat of choice can’t be a bad idea!

* For more information on the imposter syndrome workshops or my mentoring membership, you can join my Facebook imposter syndrome support group, see the Workshops page on this blog, or see the 'Conquering Confidence' page on my website.

To start gaining some control over the imposter syndrome thinking and reducing the influence it has over you, have a look at my article '5 Tips to Start Gaining Control of Imposter Syndrome'.

I have some imposter syndrome related designs live and available in my Redbubble store, which you can find by clicking the link above.

Monday 19 July 2021

3 Reasons We Should Stop Comparing Ourselves to Others


One thing that can be so tempting is to compare ourselves with others around us.

For many of us, this is something first instilled in us as children. Whenever a test came up at school, huddles would form afterwards specifically to allow the participants to compare results. I remember (more years ago than I care to contemplate now!) making the move from secondary school and GCSEs to 6th Form ready to start A-levels at 16 years old.

Sunday 11 July 2021

5 Tips to Start Gaining Control of Imposter Syndrome

Imposter syndrome is incredibly pervasive and persistent. It drags at our minds, nipping away the strands of our self-confidence and self-esteem. If it keeps doing this unchallenged, our perception of our worth in professional and even personal lives is in danger of severe damage.

Sunday 27 June 2021

Are You Hooked on External Validation?

Getting good feedback, whether from a client or a peer, is a great feeling. Having your effort and skills noticed and acknowledged can put a real glow on your day (if on that day you can allow yourself to believe the compliments – imposter syndrome does love to be contrary in that way!) The problem comes if we come to rely on that external validation.

Saturday 19 June 2021

Do You Feel Like a Fraud At Work?

Do you ever find yourself plagued by feeling that you are not as competent and talented as everyone around you is? Not as good at what you do as your peers and friends think? Do you feel like a professional fake, that at some point somebody is going to catch you out and see that you’re incompetent, or at least not as competent as others believe?