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Playing Chess With Impostor Syndrome.

Updated: Oct 26, 2021

Starting a new project or attempting something new is a very exciting thing, but it is more often than not accompanied by a very disturbing feeling. Feeling like an impostor. This is the most common form of anxiety for me. The feeling of being unworthy and not qualified at a subject. The voice in the back of your head, that says: ‘’You will fail, and is better to give up on your passion.

That passion for me is helping others improve their quality of life, by incorporating healthy activity, and nutritional habits. I know I am sort of qualified at this subject, as I have been on this journey myself and know that those practices woks. However, every time I start a project, I always face the battle with impostor syndrome.

I truly hate it as impostor syndrome has the ability to hit where it hurts the most: Our insecurities. Yes, those deep, professionally written programs in our brain often serve us in a bad way.

‘’You have no education and no diploma to what you are preaching. No one is going to take you seriously. You have to find a way to make money in this life and be financially independent. Your level of communication is not skilled enough to create any impact’’ Those and many more insecurities, always appear whenever I want to take another step in my life and try something new. They directly impact the motivation to do anything. And motivation is a huge thing. It is the fuel that drives us to pursue the passion we have for a certain project. Without motivation, the only thing that is left is the idea for the project. Those carefully designed blueprints, which we never get to truly follow. And this is how we end up lacking personal achievements.

The most recent personal achievement for me was to finally overcome my fears and start a podcast. It is in a very early stage. There are only 2 episodes launched. But it is out there and is a fact. It was a dream of mine for over 3 years. I visualized myself doing it. The whole setup. How I talk to the microphone, the notes that I have in front of me. The subject I talk about, the length of the episodes. I even pictured myself having guests and talking to them. When I finally get confident enough to try to record, I faced a lot of barriers of course, such as audio quality, ambient noise, echo, and whatnot. Bit the biggest ones were two:

1. The way I sound. I truly disliked my voice and my accent. I did not sound professional enough. I have this weird accent that did not sound pleasant at the time. And also, even though I manage to express myself better in English, I still make a lot of silly grammar mistakes that are amplified whenever I am looking for them.

2. I believed that there is nothing much I can teach to people. I thought I don’t have expertise in what I am talking about, so I won’t be able to provide value to the potential listeners, as well as no one is actually going to take me seriously, because of those reasons listed above. After all, I would measure the success of the podcast by the lives that I truly manage to positively impact and if there is no one enjoying it, it would be a failure. Two great moves by the impostor syndrome, that held me at chess for so long. However, there was hope.

Despite all those intense attacks, I sow a way to fight back. The only thing I could do is to: ‘’Just do it’’. I sat down in a small room with walls covered with blankets, plugged the microphone, and started talking. I thought to myself that regardless of how bad it is, I will be truly myself and not let those insecurities stop me.

Long story short, there are 2 full episodes that are life, and, yes, there are not many people that are interested in it now, but to my surprise, I had nice feedback from a good friend of mine in Bulgaria that discovered it and couldn’t wait for the second episode, as he found the first one very valuable.

Have I won the battle? For sure not. We are still playing that chess game and it seems to be a long one. However, I am not only not chess anymore but have made opportunities for more moves. Ha, Ha Mr Impostor syndrome!

The aim of this article is not to promote myself, but rather to share with you my struggles with the impostor syndrome and how I tend to play against it.

However, I think it is worth mentioning that the name of the podcast is Fit Life Radio. It can be found in Spotify, Anchor, Google podcast, and Apple podcast. Here is a link to my website where you can learn more about it and help yourself finding it. . If it managed to impact my friend, maybe it can help you somehow with your struggles. Anyways, let’s get back to the article.

In the next lines, I am going to share my top 3 secret moves that are keeping me safe from chess mate.

1. Do not be afraid to say I don't know. This is something I learned from a great podcast called Mind Pump. It helped me to be a better personal trainer, partner, friend, and person in general. See, because of our ego (which is fed mostly by our insecurities), we tend to always want to look like we know everything. That makes us look more professional in front of colleagues, customers, friends even people that we do not know at all. Knowing everything makes us stand out and somehow higher on the ladder of social status. Pile of Bulshit.

Honestly! There is nothing more valuable than saying ‘’I Do Not Know’’. It makes us more trustworthy. It shows others that we are honest with them and ourselves and confident in our abilities.

As a personal trainer, I want to have a good relationship with my clients and to make them comfortable that they can trust me. If they ask me something that I don't know, I wouldn't want to lie to them. Especially if it's health, exercise, or nutrition-related. Why would I? I am responsible for their health. I am their teacher. I can’t make up facts. If I don't know something iI simply say ‘’I don't know, but I can try to find out if you want’’. As simple as that. It creates more trust, but most importantly it makes us more comfortable with our knowledge and abilities. It makes us grow, learn, research, and get more experience. Part of feeling like an impostor is to feel like you lie to others. This is what Mr. Impostor wants. Simply say the truth. He won’t expect it.

2. Stop expecting to be perfect and accept failure. Just like my story with the podcast. It was perfect in my head, but in reality, I failed numerous times to even start. A better example here would be bouldering. For those who don't know, bouldering is climbing artificial routs, set indoors on artificial walls. The goal is to climb to the last hold and touch it with two hands. It seems quite easy, especially when you see others doing it. But there are some moves that are suer hard and require simple learning. Sure, observing and planning your moves is important, but you will never experience the real difficulty if you don't try it yourself and fail at it. This way you will know where are your weaknesses and work upon improving them. Failure makes us grow. Mistakes help us identify our strengths and weaknesses and work towards improving at both.

The feeling of failure is one of the greatest tricks from the sleeve of Mr. Impostor Syndrom. But, let me ask you this: Could you learn to ride a bike if you never try and never fall? I thought the same. That brings me to the third important lesson. 3. un as far away from your comfort, straight to the uncomfortable unknown. We never learn from comfort. We never grow while doing something that we are good at. Sure, we can perfect the skill we are comfortable doing and that is great. But more often than not, comfort brings us only pleasure. Like a hot bath for instance. It is nice, and peaceful, and warm, and it all ends there. Nothing more. We do not train our body to endure something We do not struggle with something new and scary. We are not forced to find a solution to a problem because we simply put ourselves in a problem-free environment (I am talking about the bath).

On the other hand, if we spend one hour at the gym, learning a skill that we always wanted, we will be one step closer to achieving it. We will experience growth. Of course, it won’t be comfortable. But, trust me, the pleasure of achieving something that you have been struggling with, is one of the greatest feelings in the world.

To end this paragraph I will share a part of a podcast with you. I believe it was at Joe Rogan’s podcast. The guest was Whim Hoff, also known as the iceman. The guy does impossible things with his body. Broke numerous world records, and showed that he and some of his students can take control over their nervous systems. All that is achieved with constant exposure to cold and breathing techniques. He was asked, how much he likes the cold. He replied that he in fact hates it. But this is what makes him stronger and lets him achieve great things.

The impostor syndrome is not an easy opponent and unfortunately does not pick only the most experienced fighter. It is a constant struggle for probably every individual. I think it is important to accept it and instead of running away, face it and try to turn it into a growth syndrome.

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