Risk the vulnerability hangover. You will survive it.

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Okay.

Hi.

We’ve all been there. We shared from the depths of our souls. Our fears. Our worries. Our hopes. Our dreams.

In the sharing, we were effusive, euphoric, unbridled, and even - dare I say it? - emotional. Because, I mean, it felt so good in that moment.

Walking around with your guard up all the time is exhausting.

So letting your guard down and letting loose felt so… right.
Both reckless and safe at the same time.
So… intoxicating.
So you shared one more thing.

 

And then you felt the surge of heat in your cheeks. The room started to spin and you had to make a hasty retreat from the conversation. Or worse... you leave feeling euphoric, only to wake up in a puddle of your insecurities the next day.

"Oh hell! Why did I share that?” “What was I thinking?” And, worse, “What must THEY be thinking now about ME?”

You think you said too much.
You think you were too much.

You, my friend, are eyeballs deep into what has been called the “vulnerability hangover.”
[term coined by the Queen Bee of Vulnerability, Dr. Brené Brown]

Dude. Totally been there.

As a chronic hugger of strangers, the first one to say I love you, an over-sharer by nature and a woman living inside a desire to live so fully that most of her filters have been removed, I get it.

Brown posits that if you don’t feel any vulnerability hangover, then maybe you didn’t go far enough.


If we’re going to use vulnerability hangovers as a metric of courage, here’s a super quick survival guide.

First of all, you will survive this.

You will absolutely survive this. Anyone who has stepped out and risked sharing what was true has experienced this and (you guessed it) survived.

Next, Hydrate.

Simple. Just hydrate. No tricks. Just drink water.
(You aren’t drinking enough, you know)

third, Compassion-ate

kəmˈpaSHən, āt/verb

As in, fire compassion beams on yourself. Be kind. Be gentle.

You shared because you had a full tank of thoughts and feelings and sadness and joy and despair and whatever else you had and were looking to connect with someone. Maybe with several someones. You needed that. We all need that. So beating yourself up is no good.

Find the same compassion for yourself that you would give a sweet little girl who told her crush that his eyes were nice and now feels awash in shame for her confession.

Last, Calibrate

Recognize that the impulse beneath the sharing was connection (it was, trust me). Where else can you get this need met in a way that will not send you to bed dizzy and wanting to hide because you are flushed with hot panic? What’s another way forward? Who can you surround yourself with?

Because what I worry about is this: if you endure one too many vulnerability hangovers, you just may stop showing up.

And, honey? We cannot have that.


Listen. We are living in a messed up time.

People walking around believing that guns are keeping people safe.
There is actually a NEED to have hashtags like #blacklivesmatter (this brings tears to my eyes).
The unbelievably messed up legacy of residential schools in Canada (so does this).
Politicians politicizing climate change. Reality TV asshats who believe that walls are the answer.
Social media filled with snark at best and hatred and vitriol at worst.
Children are being detained in unsanitary, inhumane, and overcrowded conditions — some even forced to drink water from toilet.

It is time to say what needs to be said. Now more than ever.

We can’t have you in bed not saying what needs to be said because you are afraid of the repercussions of a vulnerability hangover. Click to tweet this.

I’m scared. I know you are too.

Above all:

Please don’t apologize for feeling the depths of your experience.
Don’t apologize for expressing the depths of your experience.
And don’t stop sharing what needs to be shared.

It’s time for humanity. Not immunity. And certainly not silence. Click to tweet this.

I repeat: we’ve got work to do.


*A note about coaching. With ANYONE.

I’m always amazed when a new client apologizes for being emotional in a session. Worrying about what I’ll think. It’s an epidemic - worrying about how we’ll react to each other.

People… I’m a professional.

THIS is what I do. This is what ALL coaches do. All that deep-listening and ideation and strategy and compassion are God-given gifts that I nurture and tend to. No doubt. SELF-MANAGEMENT is the skill I paid tens of thousands of dollars for and spent thousands of hours mastering.

So bring it. Bring the mess. Bring the tears. Bring what you think is a shit show.

I’ve got it all. I’ve got you. That’s my job. That’s ALL coaches' jobs.

We’ll find your way forward. Because we are going to need your voice, at top level. We’re going to need your arms, your heart, your soul and all that you have got if we’re going to turn this thing around.

With love and raised fist,

TG


Ready to name your Imposter Complex and Step Into Your Starring Role?

Enter your information here to receive the (mostly) weekly Friday Finale from me in your inbox, and my gift to you, Imposter Complex 101: Four short videos to prompt you to think more deeply and clearly about how the Imposter Complex wants to keep you playing small—and how you can fight back.

When is it the Imposter Complex… and When is it Alcohol Misuse?

It’s hard not to notice something of a worrying trend on social media lately.

Lots of memes, funny videos, t-shirts, and more talking about how “Mommy needs her wine…”

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That sort of mommy culture, a shorthand that mothers can use to connect with one another and relate.

And on the one hand — funny!  Sure...I get it. Maybe you’ve been there. It wasn’t that long ago for me when the thought of a glass of wine after putting the kid(s) to bed kept us going through the witching hour.

But when is it just good fun, and when does it become… something else?

Ever since I landed the plane on understanding that the Imposter Complex has three main objectives — it wants to keep us out of action, alone and isolated and doubting our capacity — I’ve been thinking about what OTHER factors play out the same way.

And when I hear folx talk about alcohol misuse — welp, it sure sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

So I had to ask myself, when is the Imposter Complex to blame, and when is it alcohol misuse?

(For clarity, we will use the terms alcohol abuse and misuse interchangeably here, though they may have different connotations in different settings, especially in clinical definitions.)

To dig deeper into this discernment, I knew I wanted to speak to my friend, bestselling author and coach, Andrea Owen.

I was in a mastermind with Andrea when she stopped drinking.

From the outside, even as I was on the inside, it seemed like it was a non-event. A decision made, like starting a running regimen. She had a relatively “high bottom” as she describes it in our podcast interview, so there was no public drama to wonder about. I had no idea what was actually going on for her and likely lacked the skills, tools and maturity to ask. I was fiercely proud of her, celebrated her and that was about it.

If I’m being  truly honest, I suspect I had no idea because I didn’t want to look deeper.

Looking deeper in her process may have asked me to look deeper at my own relationship to alcohol.

But now I’m ready enough to look deeper and start to tease out the nuances and intersections between the Imposter Complex and alcohol abuse.

Alcohol and feminism

“The giant elephant in the room,” Andrea said in our podcast conversation, is that “women are marketed to, in terms of alcohol, differently than men are. Especially mothers.

“Just pay attention when you are out and about. The jokes for instance. I think the one that really chaps my hide and makes me mad is the mug that says ‘there might be wine in this.’ Because that was me, that was me wanting to drink wine at 2, 3 o'clock in the afternoon.

“It's ‘rosé all day,’ and there's a lot of — I'm going to say it — there are a lot of white men sitting in board rooms, who are making a lot of money off of women numbing out, and losing themselves.”

That has everything to do with feminism.

And the Imposter Complex is also directly related to the patriarchy. It’s trying to keep us out of action.

Both are trying to keep women and gender non-binary folx  small and quiet, doubting themselves, out of action.

And facing either head-on is a revolutionary act.

It works until it doesn’t

As Andrea explains it on the podcast, alcohol abuse is part of a much larger cycle:

“Someone who engages in perfectionism and people pleasing, there are feelings around that. We want to fit in, we feel lonely, we feel like crap because we're essentially going against our values. You can have a value around giving back and being of service, but it crosses the line into leaky boundaries, and just getting taken advantage of and feeling like a doormat and feeling resentful.

You have all these feelings. Not very many of us are well versed in actually processing those feelings, or reaching out for help, or even naming them. We don't even know what they are. We didn't come from families, and this is not to blame and shame our parents, it's just not what was taught.

And then, in order to feel relief from that — I'm so stressed out, I'm so overwhelmed, not really being able to pinpoint, oh that's perfectionism, and all of these things — I just need a drink. I need to ‘take the edge off.’

What I've always said, what dawned on me several years ago was, maybe I need to actually turn my head towards that edge. What is this "edge" that I keep talking about, that I need to keep taking off, what is that?

Maybe that is the root of the problem. So, if I looked at that with open eyes and open heart and open mind, instead of pouring wine all over it, maybe that might solve the problem. Or at least make me feel better and have more awareness, so I can get to the woman that I really, truly want to be.”

It’s a common refrain of 12 step programs that “it works until it doesn’t” — and that could refer to alcohol or any of the behaviours of the Imposter Complex.  

It works… until it doesn’t.

And when it doesn’t, that’s when we start to wonder if we can “turn our head toward the edge” as Andrea so brilliantly puts it, and feel those feelings, get curious about the root causes, and actually make some progress instead of staying stuck and numb.

Speaking your shame

Lie No. 5 of the Imposter Complex is “You must not tell anyone about this.” That Imposter Complex pays you hush money to keep you quiet about whatever it is, keep you alone and isolated.

Andrea is not playing that game when it comes to recovery.

“The misuse of alcohol and drugs is still so stigmatized that we're taught to stay quiet about it, even if we are people in long term recovery. And I personally will not stand for that. That's why I've always been: this is what an alcoholic looks like. And people were surprised by that.”

There’s power in speaking the shame that’s held us back, and Andrea is leaning into that power, trying to take some of the anonymity out of recovery.

“For so long, Alcoholics Anonymous has been the gold standard for recovery and there's anonymity in that, and I can understand that, yes. But, his whole point is, if you take the 20 plus million people, just in the United States, who are in long term recovery, ask them to speak out about this and normalize addiction, then we can change this problem that we have.”

The same thing is true about the Imposter Complex; many if not all of its lies don’t stand up when you shine a bright light on them. They thrive in darkness, in silence, and in shame. And, like recovery, we can be stronger together when we speak our shame, share our struggles, and demonstrate that we have survived and come out the other side.

“Do I have a problem?”

So finally, we come to the crux of the issue: when does alcohol become a problem?

“If you're asking the question, how do people know if it's Imposter Complex, or alcohol? I feel like it doesn't matter,” Andrea says. “Don't let that stop you. It's called over identification, the psychological term is called over identification. I have clients that do this — love them! — but they just want to get out their label makers and say, this is perfectionism, this is this, that is that.

“It's like, at the end of the day, it doesn't fucking matter. If it feels like crap and it's keeping you small, and it's keeping you from setting boundaries, and it's keeping you quiet, then we need to identify what's underneath it. That's where your work comes in.”

If you’re wondering if you might have an alcohol problem, Andrea encourages you to Google the term “gray area drinking;” it will point you to other podcasts, articles, and resources for people who may not self-identify as an alcoholic, but who find their own relationship to alcohol problematic.

To hear my entire conversation with Andrea — which is well worth a listen — click here or subscribe to the Ready Enough podcast wherever you like to listen.


Ready to name your Imposter Complex and Step Into Your Starring Role?

Enter your information here to receive the (mostly) weekly Friday Finale from me in your inbox, and my gift to you, Imposter Complex 101: Four short videos to prompt you to think more deeply and clearly about how the Imposter Complex wants to keep you playing small—and how you can fight back.

Diminishment and the Impostor Complex

It’s a funny thing.

When people are faced with the different behavioural traits of the Impostor Complex — that is to say: people-pleasing, procrastination, perfectionism, leaky boundaries, comparison and diminishment — it’s DIMINISHMENT that most people come around to eventually. It’s a one-two punch. They may initially identify as a people-pleaser or a perfectionist, but upon further digging, what tends to often be in the way of getting their great work out in the world is diminishment. (If you haven’t ID’d what might be in your way yet, check out this quiz here.)

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Diminishment is about hiding out — dimming your light — to make others feel comfortable, and in doing so, convincing yourself that you're not actually worthy of shining anyway. Diminishment is the way in which we dial our brilliance and our message down. Take up less space. Avoid displaying actual confidence at all costs.

I suppose this should come as no surprise to me given the evocative language I use in and around “Stepping into your Starring Role.” It’s INTENDED to be a calling forth of those hiding ever so slightly in the shadows off-stage.

Which is to say...YOU.

Diminishment is a nice and safe way to avoid feeling like an Impostor. No one can call us fraud, charlatan or cast us aside if they can’t see us, right?

To be certain.

And of course, it doesn’t just look like staying off the metaphorical stage.

When you tell me that you were so ‘lucky that the universe sent you the perfect designer,’ I will remind you that YOU made it happen. YOU took the chance and went on a coffee date and were open and willing and transparent. That YOU have built up a reputable business through tenacity and with excellence that anyone would be thrilled to be a part of. That YOU did your due diligence and knew what the market would bear and made the ask, even as you feared rejection. But yeah. Sure. It was the ‘universe.’

When you tell me that you are having a hard time filling up your Yum and Yay folder because “they’re just being nice” with their praise, I will remind you that nobody has time to just be nice like that and if they sent you a lovely thank you card because you helped them find a new way forward with the problem that they have been grappling with that MAYBE, JUST MAYBE you ought to dare to believe them when they tell you how truly remarkable you really are. In fact, MAYBE, JUST MAYBE you ought to take their words and add them to your testimonials page for the world to see truth.

So yes,

Diminishment looks like discounting others’ praise.
Diminishment looks like downplaying our successful decisions and wins.
Diminishment looks like handing over credit where credit isn’t due.
Diminishment looks like hiding behind your clients.
Diminishment looks like minimizing our extraordinary work...because it’s “just what we do...it’s not special.”
Diminishment looks like a crisis of presence.
Diminishment looks like the opposite of sovereignty.

Now, you have good reasons for hiding your glory from us. Of that I am certain.

Maybe you have been burned by loving yourself out loud. (This is particularly acute for folx who are marginalized by the dominant culture.)
Maybe you have seen, far too often, the “good” person corrupted by the limelight.
Maybe you have seen… or have even inadvertently participated in the canonization to demonization of someone.
Maybe you have experienced the pain of the Tall Poppy Syndrome.
Maybe you have experienced the sting of haters and trolls.
Maybe you have committed the Sin of (Out)Shining.
Maybe your strong and glorious value of humility fears getting it wrong and having to eat humble pie.

And speaking of pies, maybe you’ve been told you’ve already had too much pie. “Be satisfied with what you have, Sugar. It’s greedy to want more.”

There is no quick and easy hack to any of this. Trust me. I know.

But if you want to — really and truly want to — come out from behind the shadows and take the stage with your message, your vocation, your calling, I’m certain it will be worth every moment of tension.

TWEET THIS

But if you want to — really and truly want to — come out from behind the shadows and take the stage with your message, your vocation, your calling, I’m certain it will be worth every moment of tension.

It will involve you being brave enough to confront the reasons you stay out of action and the resistance that is keeping you from what you say you want.

It will require you to look at all you have done, without the red pen of editorializing and discounting the efforts you’ve made and the outcomes you’ve created.

It will demand that you not go this alone. It will mean you will gather your people, assemble your cast, bring your fans in close and trust in them. But above all, it will demand that YOU trust in YOU.

Like we say in The Academy: More pie please.

Do you diminish? Not sure?

Click here to take the quiz and discover which of the behavioural traits is holding you back the most from having unshakeable confidence.

People-pleasing and the Impostor Complex

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You’ve heard me say that there are six behavioural traits of the Impostor Complex. Places where we might go to hide out to avoid feeling like an Impostor.

Because, let’s face it. We know the Impostor Complex wants to keep you out of action, doubting your capacity, and feeling alone and isolated. Who needs that? Who WANTS that?

No one. So it’s reasonable for us to want to avoid the whole experience. (Hint: we can’t really. But, onward.)

So yeah. To avoid feeling like we don’t belong, aren’t worthy of anyone’s time or attention, or are the Impostor, we tend to go to comparison, diminishment, procrastination, perfectionism, leaky boundaries and my particular coping mechanism of choice: people-pleasing. (If you haven’t ID’d yours yet, check out this quiz here.)

I’m in excellent company...18.6% of you share People-Pleasing with me. (Oh HEYYYYY!)

We are a fun bunch, we people-pleasers. We can be pretty charming and likable. We are relational and sociable. We care a LOT about others. We value inclusivity. We make things happen by bridging connection. We can be generous and gracious, though sometimes we are charged with being “generous to a fault.” We learned early on about flies and honey. It’s part of feminine conditioning that my friend and colleague Jo Casey speaks to.

I love us. I celebrate us.

And bonus: Our ability to blend in with the crowd, and in fact, be welcome in most, means that we can avoid feeling like an Impostor. It’s cozy in the middle.

But the flies are IN the honey.

And I’ve spent my life trying to pick them out.

Fly #1

As people-pleasers, our relatability gets us in the door alright. But the tricky bit comes once we are inside, and we start to fear we didn’t earn it for any reason that MATTERS beyond the charm. We’ll discount any praise we are given, and dismiss the opportunity to take the stage or lead the charge. Suddenly our talents and skills and will and tenacity don’t seem to matter. And surely, if we weren’t already, we are NOW the Impostor. In a club we were never supposed to enter.

People-pleasing is about prioritizing making sure everyone likes you so that you fit in, but then not feeling like you earned your opportunities—you just got them because they liked you... or are just being "nice."

Fly #2

Sometimes, it’s a little TOO cozy in the middle, right? Cozy’s great, but not always the answer to the problem. Sometimes discomfort is. Often, in fact. Already an edge for many, discomfort is poison for cozy-loving people-pleasers who have spent their lives trying to say and do the “right thing.” (And that right thing, more often than not, is the thing that WON’T rock the boat. But it won’t change worlds, either.)

As a people-pleaser, you are likely to opt out of the kinds of action that runs the risk of pissing folx off.

Said another way: people-pleasing strips us of permission to experience righteous rage. And I am not here for that. (I know you’re not either.)

Fly #3

You don’t ask for what YOU need. And then TRUE connection isn’t happening. It’s a one-way relationship. And that has never worked out so well, now has it?

Fly #4

We can lose ourselves in trying to do the impossible: pleasing everyone.

Playing to our fans and avoiding our detractors can mean that our Integrity becomes eroded. And Integrity is a cornerstone for Unshakeable Confidence.

And I know I don’t need to tell you this: but you can’t please everyone ANYWAY. In some ways, assuming you can has an air of intrinsic arrogance. If you set out to please everyone, you will fail 100% of the time AND lose yourself in the process. (Those are not the odds you want.)

So don’t. (Yeah, I know: #simplenoteasy.)

Your people will get it.
Your people will get you.

And THAT, my friend, is PLEASING.

When everything is said and done, and the Impostor Complex is working double and triple time to keep you out of action, doubting your capacity and alone and isolated, I want you to know this, my people-pleasing friends:

Your tendency to please others comes from an excellent place.

  • Maybe your value of inclusivity wants to be assured that everyone feels heard.

  • Maybe your value of connection wants to bridge differences.

  • Maybe your value of generosity just really loves offering grace.

  • Maybe keeping others pleased around you was a question of SURVIVAL.

So I am not here to tell you to unravel all of the glorious aspects of who you are.

I am, however, here to tell you this:

For you to be the fullness of you, you just may have to disappoint some people.
(It will be well worth it.)

and

You are not responsible for sourcing anyone else's joy. No matter how “easy” it is for you. (That’s on them.)

And finally, what if, instead of assuming “they’re just being nice”...

What if you believed them when they told you just how truly remarkable you are?
What if you could just dare to believe them?
What if you could just dare to believe ME?

What then?

Are you a people pleaser? Not sure?

Click here to take the quiz and discover which of the behavioural traits is holding you back the most from having unshakeable confidence.

Fifteen

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(This is my annual birthday love letter to our daughter. Regularly scheduled articles about the Impostor Complex and your Unshakeable Confidence will crank back up next week. Promise.)

Beloved L.

Today’s your fifteenth birthday.

FIFTEEN.

I just...can’t even.

So can we take a pause here to let me catch my breath and scan where we’ve been.

On your eighth birthday, I made some wishes. They continue to hold strong and true.

On your ninth, I shared some wisdom from truth-sayers intended to light your way.

On your tenth, I called in some reinforcements to remind you of the wonder that you are.

On your eleventh, I invited you to trust your body, your knowing.

On your twelfth, I made an apology and some promises I’ll never break. Namely, this: “I will never withdraw my love. I will always be your soft place to land. You will never go wrong if you are always yourself.”

On your thirteenth, I shared a story that I will never forget.

On your fourteenth, I tried to do the near impossible. To reflect back to you the light that I see.


Okay.

I’m ready.

Remember when I used to drive you to Theatre Day Camp? In particular, it was the summer of Taylor Swift. Ly had turned you onto her, yeah? “Romeo and Juliet” was the gateway.

You’ll not be the least bit surprised to know that I used to watch you in the rearview mirror as we sang along to “Fifteen”. You had just turned seven. The fact that you would one day be that freshman girl who discovers the only way one can truly learn about heartbreak took my breath away. Knowing all too well the next eight years would go by in a flash.

I was right. (And you KNOW how I like to be right.)

The first line of the song was:

“You take a deep breath”

So I did. Every time in the car. I would watch you with your head thrown back as you belted it out with full heart and voice. I would smile and also wonder at what age I would need to address how problematic the lyrics were. But for the moment, just feeling it all. And breathing deeply.

Which is what I’ve been doing for the past eight years.

Your grace taking my breath away, and me needing to take a deep breath.

Grounding into the now that we have. Every time.

This year has been one of massive transitions. Again. As you have navigated the newness of high school and tricky terrains and social dynamics and expectations swollen with your potential and projections from those who mean well but place the weight of the world on your sunny shoulders...because you cheer everyone up.

And your grace takes my breath away.
And so I take a deep breath.

I want you to know it’s okay to feel down, and to stay down just as long as you need to.

That you don’t have to be the good girl.

That I love singing with you as much as I love our spirited conversations about problematic lyrics that presume cis-het relationships and suggest the value of a girl’s worth being inextricably linked to her virginity.

That there are no limits to our love. Nor on your capacity for greatness.

That you get to choose.

But what I want you to know is that the shift that has happened in this last year has taken my breath away above all else.

No longer do I feel the need to show you the world.

Now I only want to see the world through your big — and yes — beautiful hazel, knowing, questioning, challenging, just, loving, kind, empathetic, and sparkling eyes.

Because you see the all.

Believe me.
But above all, believe YOU.

I love you with every breath I have.
Mama