As I walked into the room, the two eminent Professors were laughing and joking so much that they didn’t notice me. It was my final year MChem project presentation, and I was nervous. The next 30 minutes was worth 10% of my marks.
I did what I always did when I was nervous about something…overprepared. As I set up the presentation on the projector and gripped my note cards, one Professors looked at me and said, “put down your notes and tell us about your project.”
It completely threw me.
The dread and panic drained right through my body. All the blood seemed to have moved from my brain into my legs and I couldn’t think straight. I wanted it to be over as fast as possible and only seemed capable of giving one-word answers. Complete failure.
Running down the corridor, tears pricking my eyes; something switched that day. I developed an emotional allergy to ‘shame’, to feeling embarrassed. It shaped my whole career. I would avoid presentations at all costs and use excuses to postpone presenting my work, hoping that I might be forgotten about.
If I did have to present, that date on my calendar felt like it was looming for weeks. The days leading up to the event would be filled with anxiety and it would play havoc with my digestive system. It was the same every time. I felt vulnerable and exposed, that at any moment someone could strip me down and expose me to not know enough.
Emotional allergies are those emotions that we really hate to feel. We will do anything to avoid them. In order to overcome painful past events and stop restricting our future, we need to learn how to tolerate those challenging emotions.
If we suppress ‘negative’ emotions then this has the consequence of also suppressing the more ‘positive’ emotions such as: happiness, excitement, joy. We end up in this emotional middle ground.
It’s important to clear past emotions because:
Supressed anger such as not being listened to, can turn into resentment. Over time repeated incidents of resentment can lead to depression.
Suppressed fear can turn into anxiety and even panic attacks.
Suppressing emotions also contribute to a wide range of health conditions and stop us functioning optimally in the present as we are often triggered into overreactions from the past.
Feeding Your Imposter Syndrome
The past has gone. The events have finished. There is nothing we can change, except how we feel about it. And to the extent that we feel yucky about it, then we are doing that to ourselves.
Events throughout our lives are one of the three underlying contributors to Imposter Syndrome. Those feelings of “not enough”.
There are ways that you can peel back those layers and get to the core of it. Like removing the armour that we place upon ourselves to ‘push through’. By removing that armour piece by piece, we can actually be more of ourselves than ever before. Unhindered by past experiences.
PS It’s mental health awareness week. You can read MY STORY here. I’d also love to hear from you. Do you have any emotional allergies? Hit reply and let me know.