Can affirmations defeat intellectual fraudulence?!
How good were the super cute affirmation stickers in the October boxes? I love them, because like many of us, I struggle with various degrees of self-doubt and impostor syndrome (the best definition I can find is from the very credible HBR “a condition of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success” ooooooooh! And “intellectual fraudulence” – now there’s a term!)
It can be quite overwhelming. But as I’ve become more vulnerable and open to sharing, many people have shared that – guess what – they can feel the same. From high-flying seemingly unstoppable CEOs to my sensitive wee 8-year-old.
So we need to give ourselves a break! Yet I don’t know about you, but I’m not one for staring in a mirror yelling “I’m a strong independent woman” 15 times a morning. When I discovered Kwohtations, it was a delight; gentle positivity with a dash of humour definitely hit the spot. The self-care ones are awesome too, both are a subtle reminder to shift thinking when negative thoughts and your inner critic start to kick in…
While I might not be shouting at myself in the mirror, over the years as I’ve discovered more about positive psychology – I’ve tried to embrace affirmations where I can, without turning into a sandal wearing, lentil eating hippy (I actually love lentils, maybe I am a hippy). Walking up the stairs to executive meetings my mantra was simply “I know what I’m talking about, I know what I’m talking about” which of course I did, but if I let it, the environment had the power to make me feel like the inept work experience kid.
But enough about me – let’s check in with my friend science. There is MRI evidence suggesting that certain neural pathways are increased when people practice self-affirmation tasks (Cascio et al 2016). And look at the benefits of daily affirmations from empirical studies (I’m no scientist as you know, but I believe "empirical" is the analysis of a wide collection of various research):
· Self-affirmations have been shown to decrease health-deteriorating stress (Sherman et al., 2009; Critcher & Dunning, 2015);
· Self-affirmations have been used effectively in interventions that led people to increase their physical behavior (Cooke et al., 2014);
· They can make us less likely to dismiss harmful health messages, responding instead with the intention to change for the better (Harris et al., 2007) and to eat more fruit and vegetables (Epton & Harris, 2008);
· Self-affirmation has been demonstrated to rumination (Koole et al., 1999; Weisenfeld et al., 2001).
Holy Moly – pass me the mirror after all!!!
As always, be kind to yourselves and be kind to others. You never know the story someone is telling themselves no matter now confident they are on the outside. And if in doubt…paste Kwohtation stickers everywhere.