Brilliant women who’ve forgotten how amazing they are

In a recent interview with writer, Caitlin Moran, journalist Sali Hughes – her friend and member of Team Tits (confused? see recently published More Than a Woman) – asked if women would ever get rid of their imposter syndrome.

They agreed that it was unlikely.

Caitlin Moran added that she didn’t want to lose hers as it kept her sharp and ensured her writing was always as good as it could be.

This is a potentially positive and useful take on her possible lack of self-worth, which is what imposter syndrome is, but not knowing her I can’t comment on how true that is.

What I do know is I fundamentally disagree with the idea that women are somehow destined to feel bad about themselves and that there’s no alternative. As if it goes with the territory and is so common there’s nothing women can do about it.

I think a far more pressing and pertinent question is: ‘How long are you prepared to live with feeling like that?’

How long are you going to let that voice, that gremlin, play a narrative in your head that doesn’t help you in any way and, in fact, is actively sabotaging your life. As Jameela Jamil said in a recent podcast, you’d never speak to a friend that way, or even someone you didn’t like, and yet somehow it’s ok to speak critically and negatively to yourself. Every day. Over and over. That’s Jameela Jamil, with her Wikipedia page and successful career as actor, radio presenter, model, writer, podcaster and activist.

Like I said, this self-bashing instead of self-belief may be common, but it’s not ok.

My mum died when I was in my early twenties and what saved me in many ways was my conviction, even then, that it’s harder to live a life with all your crap buried than live a life looking at it. I took my grief and my confusion to a wonderful therapist because I knew that I needed to look at what had happened and what it meant for me, and my life from then on.

Of course that doesn’t mean that I never have that unhelpful gremlin in my ear telling me, for example, stories about how bad I am at something. But I learnt how powerful it is to look at stuff, talk it through, figure out what the unhelpful narrative is and, most importantly, learn to replace with it with a compassionate and empowering story.

Someone noted recently that I work with brilliant women who’ve forgotten how amazing they are, which I thought was fantastic. That’s exactly what’s happened to my clients: the jumbled stories in their heads about all that they’re supposedly not mean they’ve lost sight, and all sense, of their brilliance and all that they are.

Then they do the work. They dig deep, excavate old stories, and rediscover purpose, ambition, confidence and self-belief. And then there’s no stopping them.

When are you going to decide that you’re no longer willing to put up with everything that’s holding back you and your brilliance?

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