Is imposter syndrome holding you back? Consider . . .
“Up to 82% of people face feelings of impostor phenomenon, struggling with the sense they haven’t earned what they’ve achieved and are a fraud.” – Journal of General Internal Medicine, Jun 1, 2021
In spite their training and practice hours, many Yoga Teacher Training graduates never teach. New teachers often suffer from debilitating feelings of imposter syndrome. And for some teachers, it doesn’t fully goes away. Periodic feelings of self-doubt or inadequacy are common. I’ve talked to yoga teachers all over the world who share this experience.
Of course, it’s not just yoga teachers. As noted by the Journal of Internal Medicine, it’s over 80% of the population.
How and why does imposter syndrome occur?
For many yoga teachers, it starts in the 200HR training . . .
To say that yoga is “deep” is an understatement. Yoga cannot be filtered down to a system of practices or poses. It is based upon a profound philosophy of life and consciousness. Many trainees are completely blown away by the depth of the eight limbs of yoga. Each limb is worthy of a lifetime of study and contemplation. So, as yoga teachers begin their first formal training, they come to the realization that they will never be a master. Yoga is too vast. And as yoga teacher trainees understand just how vast it is, they often start to feel both overwhelmed and paralyzed.
This pattern can repeat itself after certification as teachers pursue personal study and additional formal training. Every time they pick a topic to explore at a deeper level, they realize that there isn’t a single book or training that could teach them all they could or “should” know.
“The more you know, the more you realize you don’t know.” – Aristotle
So – what can be done about it?
Here are 8 steps you can take to tame imposter syndrome and build confidence in your abilities as a yoga teacher.
1. Quit thinking you need to know it all.
You can’t know it all and you don’t need to. In fact, sometimes having too much knowledge about a subject can make it harder to teach, as it can be difficult to remember what it was like to be a beginner. Your role is to guide and support students and offer classes that are accessible to them. You can learn alongside your students, using their questions and feedback to improve your own understanding. No one is expecting you to have all the answers.
2. Realize you aren’t alone.
Understand that imposter syndrome is so common, it has become a societal norm. It affects successful people in all fields of work. Acknowledge that feelings of self-doubt are not unique to you.
3. Be authentic.
Imposter syndrome is the fear of being exposed as inadequate. How can you be inadequate if you are being YOU? Take a moment to reflect on your yoga journey, including your reasons for pursuing teacher training and the obstacles you overcame to get there. Remind yourself of the hard work and dedication you put into the training and recognize that you earned your certification. Knowing yourself is key. To take this a step further, download my free guide to creating your Yoga Persona.
4. Focus on your strengths.
Identify your strengths as a teacher, such as your unique style, ability to connect with students, or knowledge of specific asana style. Acknowledge and celebrate these strengths, and remember that they make you a valuable teacher. Explore this further by creating your Yoga Persona.
5. Seek support from peers and mentors.
Connect with other yoga teachers who have gone through teacher training and may have experienced similar feelings of imposter syndrome. Seek guidance and support from mentors who can offer advice and encouragement.
6. Keep learning but take it slow and steady.
Whether through self-study or continuing education, there are endless opportunities to enhance your skills and dive deeper. Keep a list of areas you might want to explore deeper. But focus on just one area at a time. Take time to distill your last training before jumping into the next one. Put what you’ve learned into practice.
7. Understand the Dunning-Kruger effect.
The Dunning-Kruger Effect a cognitive bias which affects beginners. When people make rapid progression on the learning curve, they can overestimate their abilities. As such, novices typically experience overconfidence. Imposter syndrome is the opposite. The more you learn, the more you discover the vastness of your ignorance, and confidence takes a nosedive.
The irony – the more you become an expert, the more you may feel like an imposter. Understanding Dunning-Kruger Effect is step #1 to beat Imposter Syndrome. See these feelings for what they are – bias. The best part . . .
Feeling like an imposter may actually be a signal that you’re ready.
8. Adopt a “permanent beta” mindset.
Maintain perspective by reminding yourself of your achievements and accepting what should be obvious to all of us . . . learning is a lifelong process. Permanent beta is a mindset of constant learning and improvement, with the understanding that one’s work is never truly finished or perfect. This mindset values agility, flexibility, and a willingness to embrace change and uncertainty, recognizing that there is always room for improvement and growth. Embrace your vulnerabilities as a teacher and use them as opportunities to learn and evolve.
Imagine the difference you could make by adopting a permanent beta mindset and showing your yoga students how to do the same, starting with their asana practice. on the mat. Life is a roller coaster. We practice. We learn. We find some improvement. We suffer a setback. We deal with illness and injury. We start again. as a teacher, can you accepting where you are while keeping sight of where you want to go? Can you serve as an example in this way? Think about how amazing the world would be if everyone dropped the idea of perfection and fully embraced themselves and their fellow humans, since we’reall in permanent beta together. It starts with you. Pass it on.
Instead of allowing imposter syndrome to pull you away from teaching, know what it means, why it surfaces, and how to work with it. Let it pull you IN.