Every day I was told that I wasn’t good enough

Every day I was told that I wasn’t good enough

The true story of my imposter syndrome – more honest than ever before

It was December 2013 and I was aged 28. I had been working as a PR Manager for an international and highly-regarded organisation for almost three years and had a lovely content marketing team of three. I knew what I was doing and though there were the usual corporate challenges I was generally a happy worker bee. But then an opportunity came up in the organisation to interview for my manager’s role and become the head of the marketing department (a team of about 14 in total looking after everything from the TV ad campaigns to the call centre).

I had been brought up to apply myself and be grateful for good opportunities, so it didn’t even occur to me not to apply. I interviewed, got the job, and then it was Christmas so I had an unhelpful amount of time to think… and stew… and listen to the increasingly loud voice inside my head telling me I wasn’t good enough to do it. I went to Next and bought a suit, because I thought that would make me feel the part. It didn’t. I spent the week between Christmas and New Year trying to work out what computational error must have been made for me to be given the role. Despite getting very positive feedback about my interview I settled on the conclusion that they must have been desperate. Even though I had been told that they were confident in my abilities based on what I’d demonstrated on the job, and that they were happy to train me up on anything else, I decided I had to be perfect from day one or they’d realise they’d made a mistake.

Inevitably that meant I entered the office the first day back in January (wearing my new ill-fitted suit) filled from head to toe with anxiety. I called the first team meeting and sat there assuming everyone was thinking to themselves “Why on earth have they made her manager? I can’t wait to see her mess this up.” I projected doubt on their faces and cynicism in their voices (I know now that neither was true). I worked every hour there was to prove to myself and others that I was worthy of my title. I lost who I was as Gemma outside of work and became obsessed with over delivering on what was expected of me, to create a little good will for when they eventually worked out I was a total fraud. My imposter syndrome was absolutely wild – every day I told myself I wasn’t good enough and too many nights I cried from the pressure I’d put on myself.

Despite great appraisals, positive feedback from regional offices around the world and stacks of evidence that I was doing a good job, I just couldn’t get past the voice in my head that said I was going to get caught out. 11 months later I left the role and the organisation, as the internal battle with myself had worn me out. My imposter syndrome had won. It was nothing to do with the company, it was all me.

Over the six years since, the thoughts inside my head have made quite the transformation. Thanks to cognitive hypnotherapy I now understand the positive intention behind my unconscious thoughts. I now know that just because I have a thought that I’m not good enough that doesn’t make it true. I understand that I was strengthening the power of my inner critic by letting the same negative thought-signals run back and forth in my mind. I learned some amazing NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) techniques to transform those thoughts and feelings and I learned about the power of embodiment and how being hunched over my desk in an ill-fitting suit was doing me no good whatsoever!

Not only do I now feel confident in my Head of Marketing role, but I also enjoy the person I am outside of work far more too. I feel free of the fear that I’m going to be caught out and know I have earned the position I now find myself in. I believe in myself and know that uncertainty and mistakes are learning opportunities and not directly connected to my self worth. And, best of all, I get to be a Cognitive Hypnotherapist and Mindset Coach that helps my peers to make similar transformations.

That’s why I created the special online masterclass that I’m running on 28th January on Transforming Imposter Syndrome, because I don’t want you to have to waste all the years I did listening to an inner critic that isn’t serving you well. I want you to have unstoppable self-worth, and the pathway to that is to transform your imposter syndrome once and for all. If you can relate to my story, is it time to take action now so you can feel free too?

I’d love to have you there. Visit the website for all the details and to book one of the few available spaces.

My OCD became my superpower

My OCD became my superpower

Gemma Holmes Cognitive Hypnotherapy OCDBetween the ages of 5 and 10, I had two phases of being controlled by OCD. The one I remember the most seemed to be triggered by the misinterpretation I made about what my Sunday School teacher had told me. I am sure these weren’t her words, but what I took as the meaning went along the lines of “If you don’t like everyone you are a bad person… and bad people go to hell”. There was someone at the time that I did not like. I cannot remember for the life of me who that person was, but it clearly concerned me greatly that I had bad feelings towards someone and was therefore doomed to join all other bad people in the devil’s fiery pit.

Over time, this concern began to plague my thoughts and actions and resulted in obsessive hand washing and daily rituals. The OCD I experienced was unfortunately not the tidying type – I lived in a very messy room with a ‘floordrobe’ of clothes, but rather I had to tighten all the taps before I went to sleep to stop the house from flooding, and I had to say good night to each member of my family in exactly the same way. I suspect the hand washing was an attempt to cleanse myself of the bad thoughts, the rest an attempt to control everything around me so that I wasn’t a bad person who could cause the world to crumble.

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Mind strategies to deal with toxic work colleagues

Mind strategies to deal with toxic work colleagues

This is not an HR blog so I write this assuming you already know the practical steps to take to call out unacceptable behaviour and the people to escalate situations to if colleagues are causing you unnecessary grief. This blog offers some additional ways to use your mind to help you thrive in spite of toxic colleagues.

So, you are a dedicated, hardworking person trying to thrive as your professional self. But there are people around you who are making that so much harder to achieve. You have much more control over your own behaviour than you do over the behaviour of others, so how can you best deal with these people in your mind to stop them from being a barrier to your success?

Pause and regain control before responding

Firstly, remember that no-one has the power to ruin your day unless you let them. People around you can be as negative, difficult and dramatic as they please, but that can only impact your mood and your actions if you give them that power. There is a small period of time between witnessing something and taking action where your mind computes how to respond. Try to spot that tiny moment next time someone is being difficult and remind yourself that you can choose whether to let them impact you or not.

I’m not saying this is easy and it really does take some practice, but it will become easier the more you consciously stop, breathe and remind yourself who is in control of your thoughts and actions before you take the next step. Once that difficult person realises that you consistently do not rise to their bate, they will hopefully get bored and redirect their negative energy elsewhere.

It’s also an outward sign to anyone else witnessing it of your professionalism and ability to handle difficult situations. If you can respond with humility, control and reason, you will come out smelling of roses.

Remember it’s about them, not you

More often than not, if you feel someone is being disproportionately difficult or negative, it means there’s something going on for them that is fuelling their behaviour. Often it’s a case of “it’s not me, it’s you”! This doesn’t mean never taking responsibility for outcomes, but it does make it easier to handle unprofessional behaviour from others if you remind yourself they are going through their own stuff and it’s not personal. Even if that isn’t true and they’re in a great place and just choosing to be difficult, does that matter? If assuming there’s more to their behaviour makes it easier to let go and move on to something that is important to you, then that can only be a good thing.

Put up your sh*t shield

If you find you are easily drained by the negativity of others, like you work with a bunch of energy vampires who suck the positivity out of everything, then it’s time to deploy your sh*t shield. If you had a shield that you could put up that meant the negativity of others just bounced right off without effecting you at all, what would it look like? What would it be made of and what colour would it be? Would it be something you put up or something that was with you all the time? Perhaps it would be a suit of armour, or a superhero costume? For me, I imagine a cloak that is made of special fabric so that only positive vibes can come through but negative ones are blocked. The simple act of imagining donning this cloak means I can enter a dreaded meeting feeling more in control of my emotions and resilient to the actions of others. Bring out your sh*t shield to stop those vampires from being able to drain you of your positivity.

Find them fascinating

If you change your mindset from annoyance to fascination, where you observe their behaviour and find it interesting from a social study perspective, this will enable emotional detachment. This detachment will mean you can be present to their negative attitude and behaviour without taking it on as anything to do with you. Personally, I find this a really effective strategy because I can be curious about what they will get up to next rather than dreading it happening. Imagine you are watching their behaviour on a reality TV show and can observe it as an outsider to give you that detachment from their negativity.

You may have noticed that all of these tips involve you taking the moral high ground and changing your mindset. This can seem unfair that you have to make the changes when it’s the other person being difficult. But that’s what having an internal locus of control is all about. Ultimately the only thing we have complete control over is how we handle a situation, and we are already making unconscious choices to let them negatively impact us. These techniques are a few ways to consciously make different choices to serve you better, and the more you apply them the more they will become your natural response. Apply these strategies regularly and that toxic colleague will lose all power over you and your emotions.

If you would like to discuss how my blend of online Cognitive Hypnotherapy and Coaching can help you create more positive mind patterns to thrive in and outside of work, get in touch to book a free discovery call.