Handling the Impostor Syndrome

teen challenges

Building inner confidence is a challenge everyone faces at some time in their lives. We may look at others at times and wonder why we don’t feel as confident as they look. 

I believe everyone has questioned their own level of confidence at times. On one of my of my first meetings as president of our local school board, a controversial issue arose. A motion was made regarding the issue, and then an amendment to the motion was made.

Confusion reigned. The observers got restless, then angry because we could not vote on the motion until the amendment had been voted on. No one could agree on the amendment to the motion.

I sat there, becoming alarmed as I watched the crowd get louder and angrier. I tried to gavel them to quiet. As I was banging the gavel, I had that uncomfortable feeling in the pit of my stomach as I thought to myself, “Don’t they know I have no clue what I’m doing?” Have you ever experienced that feeling?

That was lack of confidence in that moment. It was an imposter syndrome moment, and I believe we all suffer from it at some time in our lives.

As adults, we know we can get past it, but how can teens know they get past it? How can they appear more confident?

I have two recommendations: One is physical, the other mental.

Physically, sit or stand with your shoulders back and your head held high. That physical appearance automatically equates to the appearance of confidence, even if you don’t feel it inwardly. Eventually, you will. 

With your shoulders back and your head held high, the carotid artery is free to allow a stronger flow of blood to the brain and as a result, increased acuity of thought. That is step number one.

Step number two is to change your thoughts, even in the midst of an upheaval in some part of your life. If you are telling yourself you “cannot,” you won’t be able to. If you change the negative thought to a positive thought, you will be able to change the situation.

A way to physically manifest this negative to position thought pattern is to take three fingers and place them on your chest, almost like the Pledge of Allegiance stance. Three fingers touching your heart can be the conditioned signal to yourself to choose a positive thought, even if it is only, “I can handle this.”

This is a habit well worth focusing on until you don’t have it—then it’s yours!

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