Your mind is a maze. Repeating, rewriting, rewiring itself.
And when these thoughts make us unhappy, it means we’ve got a problem we need to address. The reality of American living is that most of us are emotionally off – we’ve got problems, but we don’t address them because we don’t seek the help we need. And why would we? We simply do the best we can to appear “normal”, even though many of us aren’t. The problem is that we’re comparing our insecurities to everyone else’s highlight reel. We make the case, to ourselves, that we’re okay, when really our thoughts blur not just the truth, but the truth about what we want and our lives. We all have internal obstacles – it’s simply a matter of addressing them.
As objectively as you can, it’s important to look over your list of internal obstacles and thoughts and acknowledge them for what they are – impostors. What are impostors? Impostors are thoughts that are grounded in false realities. It’s the voice that tells you can’t write a book because you’ve never written one before. Or the thought that says you can’t go after that guy because you could never get a guy like that, when really, you could. These thoughts (even doubts) are all based on false premises that say “you’re not enough” and “you, personally, can’t do this”. The thoughts in your head that run the narrative can be an absolute train-wreck.
It’s your job to stop them.
So what are these thoughts? And how can we take these impostors down a notch?
Visualizing Emotional Obesity
One of the greatest exercises you can do is write a rebuttal to these imposter thoughts and beat them out with logic.
- Draw circle on a piece of paper with what you want in the middle. These are desires you’ve tried (and failed) at pursuing. Maybe you’ve wanted a new relationship. Maybe you’ve wanted to resolve family problems. Maybe you’ve wanted to travel more. Deep inside, these are things you want. Write them down in the circle.
- Now, draw circles around the circle for imposters with room for rebuttals. Write down the various thoughts – the exact lines playing in your head – that discourage you. By now, that one good dream sentence (“I want to write a book”) looks outnumbered by imposter voices on the page. This my friends, is what emotional obesity looks like on paper. A true voice, surrounded by posers. The positive message isn’t any different – but with impostors surrounding it, now, you need to write down rebuttals.
- Now, write rebuttals for each impostor thought. Around your dream, you have impostor thoughts that are surrounding it. So now, with everything written down, argue away each imposter voice with logic. Next to each impostor voice, argue a rebuttal on why that particular impostor voice is wrong. My rebuttals looked like this:
“I’ve never written a book before” = “Every author has a first book”
“My writing might be terrible” = “This is my joy. This is my passion. My voice matters more than my grammar”
Now, the final step: practice these sentences. Re-wire your emotional habit. Repeat them to yourself. Relish in the rebuttal. These positive rebuttals will push back against the impostors in your mind—the judgments, anxieties, and learned values—and give your true self space to speak.
When you create logical arguments ready in your mind against known impostor thoughts, you’re less likely to let your impostor voices persuade you. You’re cutting right through the B.S. It’s important to understand; the thoughts that run your mind, run your life. Your life is simply a reflection of your thoughts and it’s not only crucial that you have a grip on your mind, but also that you don’t lose a grip on what you want. Repeat the words in your head.
Then, keep going.
“A sick thought can devour the body’s flesh more than fever or consumption.”
― Guy de Maupassant, Le Horla et autres contes fantastiques