128. Is Self-Doubt Stopping You From Stepping Up with Tanya Geisler

April 30, 2020

“Self-doubt is a bit of a driver, and it’s not a problem until it keeps us out of action, doubting our capacity, and alone and isolated.”

There is a question out there — perhaps you’ve seen it — that goes something like this: “Who do you want to be on the other side of this crisis?” It’s an excellent and empowering question. It makes us think about what we want to do, who we want to be, how we want to act during and after this crisis.

You may be feeling motivated to do something more or something different or to do right by your aspirations and values.

And just as you’re feeling psyched to do all these things, here comes these inconvenient voices that chime in, and they say things like, “Well, who the heck do you think you are to think that you can do XYZ?” These thoughts make you doubt yourself, your abilities, or whether you should even attempt the things you want to do.

I wanted to explore this topic here on the show in the season when we’re talking about career continuity and resilience. There’s no one else I’d rather have this conversation with than Tanya Geisler. Tanya is a leadership coach, whose body of work is all about helping us recognize these patterns of thoughts that stop us from taking action so that we can recalibrate our behaviors and do the work we’re called to do.


Follow Tanya Geisler on Instagram and Twitter.
Quiz: What Behavior is standing in the way of your Unshakeable Confidence
Mapping our Social Change Roles in Times of Crisis, article by Deepa Iyer
Ready Enough Episode 16: Social Change Roles and the Imposter Complex
Lie #1: Your Self-Doubt is Proof of Your Inadequacy
Impostor Syndrome, according to Wikipedia
Book Recommendations
Follow Second Breaks on Instagram
Connect with Lou Blaser on LinkedIn


Who do you want to be on the other side of this is always the question I want people to be asking. Who do you want to be at the end of this day? Who do you want to be at the end of this conversation? Who do you want to be at the end of this week? It doesn’t mean you need to be somebody different. It means you need to be somebody’s truer. What is true and healing and appropriate for you is the work that we’ve been called to do.

For some of us, it is most appropriate to get into a more aligned action. For some of us, it’s more appropriate to just rest and attend to their hearts and to their grieving and to the healing and to their trauma. Who do you want to be on the other side of this isn’t necessarily a rallying cry to do differently. It might be a rallying cry to do more, deeper, truer for yourself.

For massive action takers, massive action can be a way to avoid feeling what we’re feeling.

I’m seeing comparison and diminishment as the most kind of amplified, behavioral traits of the impostor complex.

The idea behind comparison is beautiful. We want to see where those people that we measure ourselves up to, where we are tracking, and then maybe there are places of distinction that are great opportunities for us. But when it dips into this place of hero worship where we can only see their light and ignore our own, this is problematic.

None of these behaviors are problematic in and of themselves, except for when they keep us out of action, deaden our capacity, alone and isolated.

The experience we’re trying to avoid is the imposter complex, the experience we’re trying to move towards is what I call unshakeable confidence.

There are three pivotal aspects of unshakeable confidence. The first is integrity. The second is presence. And the third is action.

People-pleasing and leaky boundaries tell us that there might be a crisis of integrity. Maybe people aren’t being obedient to their vision, not honoring their word to themselves, not showing up authentically. Diminishment and comparison tell us that there is a crisis of presence and perfectionism and procrastination tell us that there’s a crisis of action.

The first thing I would say is you’re not allowed to beat yourself up for this. You’re not allowed to beat yourself up for the fact that it’s really annoying to have people go, ‘Now’s the time. Now more than ever.‘ That’s really frustrating and it’s hard if you’re not feeling that because you are feeling shut down by the things that have happened.

The behaviors that you had wanted to shift before — because you recognized that they were a challenge before — that I think would be a great place for you to start. Why were you afraid to share your brilliant ideas pre-March, right? Get into that because now, you’re seeing how exacerbated that is.

We need to look at those fissures that pre-existed what’s happening now and not allow our current situation to be like, “I’m going to hold back on my brilliant ideas until this is all over.” Nope. Hard pass. Go into why you believe that your brilliant ideas aren’t worth sharing. Go into why you don’t believe that your work is worth being charged a fair amount for.

The impostor complex is an over-identification with our failures and an inability to internalize our successes. So any success that we have, we chalk up to luck, fluke, timing, or having somehow managed to deceive somebody into thinking we are capable, more successful than we actually are.

Your standards are high and that’s part of the reason you experience the imposter complex. Actual imposters don’t feel like imposters. Actual frauds don’t feel like frauds. People who experience this have strong values of mastery, integrity, and excellence.

Self-doubt is a bit of a driver, and it’s not a problem until it keeps us out of action, doubting our capacity and alone and isolated.

We’re always living inside of uncertainty and the imposter complex thrives in uncertainty


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