How to Overcome Imposter Syndrome

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Do you frequently question your abilities and wonder if you’re good enough or smart enough? Do you feel like a fraud and worry that people will find out who you “really” are? Do you diminish and dismiss your accomplishments? Do you constantly compare yourself to others and feel like everyone else is more qualified than you? If you answered yes to some of these questions you may be experiencing imposter syndrome.

Imposter syndrome involves feeling like a fake or fraud despite evidence of high achievement and accomplishment. Even though you’ve earned a degree and are progressing through graduate school, or receive praise for your work, you question your abilities. Imposter syndrome also involves worrying that you got into an academic program or got a job by mistake, and ›feeling like you are fooling people into thinking you are smart. Overall, people who experience imposter syndrome feel that they are not good enough.

Imposter syndrome may be even more challenging for people of color because stereotype threat may exacerbate it. Stereotype threat is the stress that results from worrying that you will confirm negative stereotypes about the intellectual capacities of people from your gender, racial, or ethnic group. The combination of imposter syndrome and stereotype threat can negatively effect your performance on tasks that you would be able to do well without this additional stress. Additionally, people of color may wonder if they were admitted to an academic program or got a job because of token diversity initiatives. This can increase insecurities about whether or not you really belong in a workplace or academic setting. Further, people from marginalized groups often navigate challenging racial, cultural and gender dynamics, as well as microaggressions, which can further exacerbate imposter syndrome.

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To Survivors of Sexual Violence

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There have been a lot of discussions about sexual violence lately. Between Donald Trump’s disgusting statements about sexually assaulting women, numerous women reporting experiences of sexual assault perpetrated by Trump, Nate Parker’s lack of remorse related to being accused of rape, Brock Turner being released after only 3 months in jail, and President Obama recently signing a Bill of Rights for Sexual Assault Survivors, sexual violence has been a bigger part of every day conversations lately than it used to be. Sexual violence includes a range of physical and verbal behaviors from harassment to rape. Sexual violence is far too common. As many people have highlighted, we live in a rape culture, where sexual violence is accepted, victims are blamed, and very few people are held accountable for sexually harmful behavior. These are all things that need to change.

As we work to prevent sexual violence and hold perpetrators accountable it is essential to acknowledge the pain and trauma survivors of sexual violence experience. Being violated in the most intimate way is deeply painful and often causes people to question their faith, safety in the world, and worthiness as a human. People commonly experience a range of emotions after experiencing sexual violence including confusion, anger, emotional and physical pain, shame and self-blame, denial, fear, sadness, and isolation. Sexual violence is often traumatic and can result in a range of ongoing mental health concerns including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Some trauma related symptoms include having flash backs, being triggered or scared by seemingly benign stimuli, having difficulty engaging in sexual relationships in the future, feeling anxious, feeling unsafe when alone, and feeling scared of encountering the person who committed the sexual violence. This blog post is for those people who have experienced sexual violence. Know that it was not your fault. Know that your reaction to being assaulted is understandable. Know that you are not powerless. Know that you are worthy.  Continue reading

3 Reasons to Take Care of Your Mental Health

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Last week Kid Cudi courageously shared his struggle with depression with his fans and the world. I hope that this starts a trend that enables more people to feel comfortable opening up about their mental health struggles and and seeking help. Mental illnesses can develop from traumas that we have experienced, overwhelming stress, genetic factors, or not learning healthy ways to cope with daily stress. No matter how mental illness develops, there is no reason to feel shame about it. Mental illnesses should be thought of as symptoms on a continuum. Many of us experience symptoms of mental illnesses from time to time and sometimes those symptoms meet criteria for a mental health disorder. We all should take steps to promote our own mental health just like we work to maintain our physical health. That is one reason I started posting Daily Mental Health Tips on my Twitter and FB pages.

Today is World Mental Health Day. A day designated to raise awareness of mental health issues. In honor of this day I’m doing a brief post highlighting three reasons to take care of your mental health. Continue reading

Don’t Take it Personally

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When I think about what tends to get me frustrated from day to day one thing that stands out is annoying interactions with other people. Whether it’s being cut off while driving, someone responding rudely to me, or feeling disregarded, much of my frustration stems from me feeling personally offended by the behavior of someone else. Our responses to these types of behaviors often makes us miserable, while the person who frustrated us goes on their merry way. One way to let go of these frequent frustrations is by learning to not take things personally.

Not taking things personally is about not letting other people’s behavior control our moods and daily experience. Choosing not to take things personally empowers us to take responsibility for our lives and experiences instead of giving that power away to the people around us. Choosing not to take things personally does not mean that you never address ongoing, problematic behavior. However, when we don’t take things personally, we are in a better position to address upsetting behavior from a calm and measured place, which will ultimately lead to a more constructive solution. Continue reading