Imposter syndrome and 10 things you can do if you want to avoid it.

Even after writing eleven books and winning several prestigious awards, Maya Angelou couldn’t escape the nagging doubt that she hadn’t really earned her accomplishments.   

Alber Einstein too experienced something similar, he described himself as an ‘involuntary swindler’ whose work didn’t deserve as much attention as it had received.

Accomplishments at their level are rare, but their feeling of fraudulence is extremely common. In fact, according to a review article published in the International Journal of Behavioral Science an estimated 70% of people experience these feelings of being an imposter at some point in their lives. 

It’s common for those with imposter syndrome to share the following thoughts:

“I’m a fake” 

Imposters often believe their success and accomplishments are unwarranted and that others have been deceived into thinking they were worthy of them in the first place. Deep down they believe they lack the experience, knowledge, and expertise —  or simply that they don’t have what it takes.

This plays into the imposters’ own feelings of fear and guilt, as they are scared someone will unmask or discover that they were only giving the impression that they’re competent. 

“Failure is not an option” 

The imposters’ fear of being caught as a fake means they put themselves under a tremendous amount of pressure to maintain the status quo. They simply can’t fail or everyone will know how ‘incompetent’ they truly are.

Interestingly, imposters don’t see success or accolades as a contradiction to their fears of fraudulence either. Just as with Angelou and Einstein, there is often no threshold of accomplishment that put these feelings to rest. This leads to an inability to enjoy success.

“Success means nothing” 

Imposters have a tendency to make light or discount any success they may achieve. They have a hard time taking compliments because they don’t believe the success was a consequence of their own work — they had everyone fooled. They would rather attribute their success to luck, good timing, or support from others.    

Where do these feelings come from?

Psychologist Pauline Rose Clance was the first to study this unwarranted sense of insecurity in 1978. Together with colleague Suzanne Imes, the two studied impostorism in female college students and faculty. Their work established pervasive feelings of fraudulence in this group. (She also created this impostor syndrome test.)

Since the first study, research has established its occurrence across gender, race, age, and a huge range of occupations, though it may be more prevalent and disproportionately affect the experience of underrepresented or disadvantaged groups. 

When we call it a syndrome we actually detract from how universal it is, because it’s not an abnormality nor is it necessarily tied to depression or anxiety. If anything it’s a commonly shared paradox high achieving, highly successful people suffer from, so imposter syndrome can’t be a result of low self-esteem or a lack of self-confidence. In fact, some researchers would rather link it to perfectionism 

These researchers theorize that parents can program their children with messages of superiority. In this scenario, both the parents and the child believe that he or she is perfect or superior.

Ironically this results in a miss-match once the child enters the real world, the supportive parental aspect no longer applies and the now grown-up child is left with a constant need to be ‘perfect’, yet they never feel like they are.  

Another theory postulates that the roots of imposter syndrome could be found in childhood psychology and the labels parents attach to members of the family. It is not uncommon for parents to label one child as the ‘sporty’ one while labeling the other as the ‘intelligent’ one. These labels become part of the child’s self-identification and can leave them reeling in order to live up to an expectation they just ‘can’t’ seem to fulfill. 

Interestingly, these feelings aren’t necessarily shared by just highly skilled individuals either. There’s a phenomenon known as pluralistic ignorance and we’re all susceptible to it. Generally, we all tend to doubt our selves privately and because no one else shares their doubts we believe we’re alone in thinking that way. 

This phenomenon can make it hard to gauge the performance of our peers because It’s difficult to know whether they find a task difficult, or just how much they doubt themselves, and consequently, there’s no easy way to dismiss feelings that we’re less capable than those around us. And this is a problem because feelings of impostorism can prevent people from sharing their ideas or applying to jobs where they would excel. 

There are, however, things you can do when you find yourself feeling like an imposter. 

1.Be Aware

It’s important to stay mindful of your thoughts. When you’re aware of your thought patterns you will not only become better at recognizing imposter feelings but you will also be able to counter them before they have a chance to evolve.  

2.Realize you’re not alone

A good start would be to watch this video from v.proud.tv on Time magazine of female professionals sharing their own feelings of impostorism. 

3. Get out of your mental rut

Once you have a handle on recognizing these feelings you can actively counter them. Whenever you find yourself thinking you don’t deserve success or that you don’t know what you’re doing—remind yourself that it’s normal to not know everything, most people feel this way, and that you will learn and grow more as you progress. 

4. Talk about it

When you open up about your feelings you may be surprised to learn how the people around you feel like imposters too. This will provide an incredible sense of relief. It’s better to have an open dialogue than keeping your negative thoughts bottled up. 

5. Take a step back

It’s normal for anyone to experience moments or occasions where they don’t feel 100% confident or competent. We have to step outside our comfort zone to grow, and most of the time when we do so, we find ourselves somewhat outside of our own depth. It’s quite natural for these moments to be filled with self-doubt as a consequence. If you catch yourself thinking you are useless, take a step back and reframe it. Rather than telling yourself, you are useless, remind yourself that you are not—you’re merely growing.

6. Failure does not exist

While you’re at it reframe your thoughts on failure too. Failure is an aspect of any learning curve. Whenever you feel overwhelmed by the thought of failure, remind yourself of simple ways in which practice (and failure) makes perfect. Just imagine all the failed attempts the barista had to make in order to master the ‘foam art’ in your morning coffee. Likewise, no one has ever made the perfect omelet after their first (or in my case tenth attempt) Once you truly realize that failure is nothing more than an opportunity to learn, you may be able to let go of your own perfectionism and in doing so you may just find a new sense of joy in what you’re doing.

7. Be kind to yourself

Remember that we’re all entitled to make some mistakes on occasion and that failure is part of the process. Treat yourself like you would treat a friend whenever they’re in doubt or have made a mistake—with kindness and forgiveness. 

8.Seek support

Everyone needs help every now and then. Realize that you don’t have to do everything alone. Seeking assistance will allow you to talk through your feelings and adjust your perspective. 

9.Think big picture

Imposters tend to get stuck in the moment. Rather than focusing on how ‘incapable’ you are in the moment, visualize a successful outcome. You will feel much calmer and focused when you focus on completing the task, presentation or meeting the deadline. 

10. Keep track of the facts

You can combat your own imposter syndrome, by collecting and revisiting positive feedback. One scientist kept blaming herself for problems in her lab, and in an effort to change what she had been doing wrong she began documenting the causes every time something did go wrong. To her surprise, she eventually came to realize that most of the problems came from equipment failure, and not her incompetence.

We may never be able to banish these feelings entirely, but we can have open conversations about academic or professional challenges. With increasing awareness of how common these experiences are, perhaps we can feel freer, to be frank about our feelings and build confidence in simple truths: you have talent, you are capable, and you belong.


Tired of the Sunday Blues? Take these 4 easy steps now!

Weekends are precious, it’s our time to socialize and recoup after a long week at work, but how often do we find ourselves feeling like Sundays are less about the ending of a great weekend — than it is about the start of something we’re not looking forward to.

So many of us are sitting with this sinking feeling of the Sunday blues, and it’s all in anticipation for the week that lies ahead. In fact, a recent study from The sleep Judge has found that a staggering 81 percent of workers experience an elevated level of anxiety on Sundays.  

Interestingly, the Sunday scaries are not necessarily predicated on a poor relationship with a superior. In the study people who reported having a good relationship with their manager reported an even higher level of anxiety than those who had a poor relationship. A fact that may be attributed to more work and higher expectations that come with a good boss-employee relationship. 

So while a bad boss certainly contributes to the anxiety, other things contribute even more like workload, the pressure to perform, and a fear of being laid off.

Ultimately it’s inevitable for anyone of us to at least feel some level of workplace anxiety every now and then. But there are things we can do to lessen the feelings of Sunday scaries. Here are a few tips on those that helped me the most.

Treat Saturdays like they’re Sundays.

Most of us tend to live out our weekends according to the same routine. Saturdays are for fun and socializing, while Sundays are generally left for adulting and admin.  This coupled with the anxiety in expectation of the week ahead only enforces the Sunday blues.

Instead of going into full crisis mode come 4 pm Sunday afternoon, take care of mundane errands, commitments, and chores on Saturday. We’re more likely to be in a better mood which means tasks can be dealt with more efficiently.  

Flipping the weekend on its head allows you to have an unencumbered Sunday. Whether it’s connecting with friends or just relaxing with a book, you may find these activities to be far more rewarding if your to-do list isn’t holding a gun to your head. 

Stay connected

The temptation to go into hibernation mode on a Sunday can be quite alluring, especially in winter. But numerous studies have found that those who have a lot of social connections are generally happier than those who don’t. 

In fact, a 2010 study published by the American Sociological Review found that people who routinely attend religious services were more satisfied with their lives than those who did not. It’s not just about faith, but also about community.  The researchers determined that this feeling of well-being can be attributed to a sense of belonging and friendship within the congregation.

It is therefore not so much about being a social butterfly, but rather more about forming a Sunday ritual that includes social interaction. It can be something as simple as making a habit out of attending a yoga class, a comedy club or theatre, and It doesn’t have to include a lot of people either. If you consider yourself to be a homebody you can also set up a standing dinner or game night with your closest friends. 

Whatever you choose, just remember that it doesn’t have to be overly complicated. After all, no one likes deep cleaning their casserole pot on a Sunday night. 

Avoid working over the weekend

In our modern world, our jobs have become more demanding, and because we’re indefinitely connected it has become far too easy to be sucked into work over the weekend. It may be as simple as firing off a few emails in the hopes of not falling behind, but what we often forget is that in doing so we’re stealing energy from doing such tasks in the week ahead. 

Interestingly The sleep judge study also concluded that those who bring work home over the weekend were significantly more likely to feel Sunday anxiety than those who don’t. 

By committing to disconnect from anything work-related even if for just one day, you allow yourself to fully recharge. In the short term, this will leave you better equipped to take on Monday morning with a greater level of energy. You will be more efficient at clearing out your inbox and you’ll be more motivated to take on that looming deadline. 

In the long run, this will go a long way in preventing workplace burnout and fatigue. a 1996 study on workplace burnout found not taking sufficient time to recover from demanding work to be one of its leading causes. 

“Individuals who lack sufficient time and support to recover fully from demanding work are vulnerable to chronic exhaustion” 

Prepare for Monday on Friday

It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the thought of Monday morning when you know just how much needs to be done, but you don’t have a plan of action to do it. You will feel much calmer on Sunday if you feel in control of how your Monday morning is going to pan out. 

Rather than trying to balance setting up your to-do list with a full inbox Monday morning, dedicate 30 minutes of your time for planning on Friday. It can be as simple as writing a to-do list, but what I’ve found to be most effective is to also prepare and arrange everything so that I can literally jump right in.   

Its also worth not giving in to the temptation to schedule or accept any Monday morning meetings, have them late afternoon instead (better yet, have them Friday). This may sound counterintuitive in the world of coordinating team deliverables, but in reality, you will have a higher reserve of mental energy to draw on for those more challenging tasks during the day.

What’s really going on

Work is never just ‘work’, it’s a combination of people, their agendas and a constant challenge to not just meet but outdo the bottom line. It’s near impossible for this recipe to be drama free for any length of time and therefore it’s normal for all of us to feel some level of work-related anxiety on occasion. But what if the above steps aren’t enough? The truth is that this is a dilemma faced by many, and if you’re one of them it may be time to ask yourself some hard questions.

Perhaps the Sunday scaries are giving you a sign that something is lurking deeper. Is it telling you that you don’t love what you’re doing anymore? That you’re not challenged in your current position? That you are longing to pursue a different passion? That you’re not matched to a job that forces you to go against your own values? 

These questions can be difficult because ultimately we all fear a life lacking financial stability. But the thing is there isn’t enough money in the world to make up for emotional and physical instability. When we’re free from this anxiety we’re more energized and motivated to do an excellent job and excellence will always be in high demand. 

Now I’m not suggesting you resign tomorrow, you may just need a change within your current workplace. But by answering these questions honestly, you will at least know what needs to be done. Once you know that you can plan your change accordingly.


How equality can save the LGBTQ community from a drug addiction crisis

The sad reality is that persons who identify as LGBTQ are statistically more likely to have an unhealthy relationship with drugs or alcohol than their heterosexual counterparts.

According to a recent national survey on drug use, adults defined as ‘sexual minorities’ are more than twice as likely as heterosexual adults to have used mind-altering substances in the past year. 

The problem is not so much with occasional use as it’s with abuse – the persistent use of mind-altering substances over an extended period of time. A 2013 survey by the US census bureau found that there’s a higher percentage of binge drinking amongst members of the LGBTQ community aged between 18 and 64, and unfortunately, the problem does not end there.

A 2019 study found that there has been a drastic rise in alcohol-related deaths within the LGBTQ community between 1999 and 2017. While a recent New York Times article looks at the disproportionate spread of meth addiction and the crisis it’s causing within the gay community.


As far as modern society has come, being LGBTQ is frankly still tremendously stressful. The same 2019 study points to both internal and external stigma and victimization as the main stressors for the increase in substance abuse.

These stressors ultimately convey the message that these LGBTQ people do not belong in our society and that they have to go at it alone. This loneliness can then result in the use of substances to deal with those feelings. 

There’s a ‘comfort’ in self-medicating with substances. It’s a ‘solution’ to coping with feelings of loneliness, not being loved, rejected, and confused – it’s an easy way to numb the pain.

Self-medication can make it easier to avoid confronting problems in the first place, leading to a false sense of security. This illusion of security becomes a vicious cycle because when the mind-altering substances are not present, all the unresolved emotions come right back to the surface. As long as these emotions remain unresolved and avoided the need to suppress them will keep building.


I wanted to know how this is playing out in the real world and decided to reach out to two LGBTQ fellows in recovery. I asked them what role they think sexuality plays in addiction, and how recovery has changed their perspective. Their names have been changed for privacy.

Gay, 7 years sober.

“I believe there are so many contributing factors that play a role in why drugs are so rampant in the gay community. But I do believe most of these can be boiled down to feelings of being isolated and unloved. There are so many gay kids who grow up in houses where their parents don’t understand or relate to them, where they don’t know how to treat them.

So many gay children grow up in loving homes but still feel ostracised because of this, because they’re not necessarily given the same seat at the table. To a child, this can be lonely and they may feel unloved because of it.

I realized I had hit my rock bottom after an attempted suicide. Entering into recovery I realized I had to get to a place where I could stand on a hill, alone in my truth, and that it was ok.

That I could be who I am and not have or need the support of friends or family to be ok. Being sober made me realize that I am living the life that I’m meant to lead and that before, I did not have the grounding of mindfulness and self-esteem to do that.

Who I am is ok, and if my parents don’t love me, and my friends don’t love me, and society doesn’t love me, that’s ok because I love me and I’m worth saving. My life is worth saving, and I don’t need mind-altering substances to make me feel like I’m ok or worthy.”

Transgender, 3 years sober.

“Growing up queer in my household was not celebrated, my parents weren’t even remotely ok with acknowledging it either. At the time I still identified as being a lesbian and we where caught by my girlfriend’s parents. The whole situation was such a nightmare, they told my parents.

My mom didn’t take it well and she was ashamed and angry, being all like we didn’t raise you to be this and you know this is wrong. It was really difficult for me because it made me feel like there was something wrong with me, and I definitely lied about it from then on.

I learned from the experience that it’s not ok to be who I am in this place so I either needed to change or fake it until I can get away, and that’s kind of how that went.

In recovery, I started to experience gender dysphoria and it made me realize things about myself when I was younger. I realized that in some form I didn’t know what this was, I didn’t understand it and that deep down I felt that it was societally unacceptable so I just started to suppress it. And every time I felt bad I suppressed it even more.

My whole addiction was based on this need to suppress it. My top priority was to get high. But when I got clean my gender dysphoria presented itself in ways that I was able to manage it. I could shed off the negative beliefs of my sexual orientation. I started building a community with sober folks and this space allowed me to finally come to terms with my gender identity.” 

For all the progress that has occurred in the LGBTQ community over the last couple of decades, one fact remains – the community still finds itself in a somewhat toxic environment. Nothing good comes from placing someone in the situation where they’re forced to hide who they are – it can only lead to more lies and deceit that ultimately destroys relationships between families and friends.  

All of this is manifested in an environment where there is a higher rate of suicide, bullying at school and young people still being thrown out of their homes. Society has been forcing stressful and traumatic situations in the form of rejection and neglect and because there is still this lack of equality for LGBTQ people, treatment options generally don’t cater to their unique disposition and without care and understanding addiction rates will not get any better.  


For starters, we have to acknowledge that members within our society are facing this problem and that something needs to be done about it. During the 80’s the AIDS epidemic led to countless deaths while officials threw a blind eye at the ‘gay’ problem. The sooner we act the sooner we can find a solution.

As a society, we have to come to a point where we can love and accept people for who they really are. We must let go of our own fears and prejudices and give LGBTQ people a seat at the table.

This means finding recovery solutions that make these minorities feel comfortable and safe without judgment of their sexuality or identity. If our goal is to help members find a path to recovery then we have to provide them with a space in the world where they can stop hiding and be honest about who they are. Every one of us deserves respect and grace and we all deserve the right to be accepted for who we are. 

Once we get to a place where we can look across the room without the need to figure out or label, we can truly coexist and the power of numbers could be phenomenal if we stood together. We can allow addiction and suicide to dissipate if we get rid of the shame and the judgment that comes with it. 


Validation in a world of social media

A few years ago I decided to embark on a little experiment. The experiment was meant to last for an entire month where I promised to delete Facebook and Twitter from my phone and not post anything on Instagram. 

See, back then I was obsessed. All these stories we read of people becoming addicted to social media had become my reality. It was a reality I could no longer deny as it was starting to affect my daily life. My productivity was suffering at work and at home, I was barely adulting. 

The first few days were an absolute misery, I constantly found myself reaching for my phone only to put it back in my pocket. But something wonderful happened. It gave me time to reflect and I was left wondering, “What value does social media bring to my life?”. 

What do I get out of checking my feed first thing in the morning? Why do I feel obligated to post pictures and updates on my life as I go through my day? What’s the purpose? What could possibly be gained by posting every aspect of my life on social media? 

To an extent, social media did offer me the opportunity to engage and connect with people I would otherwise not have known. It also afforded me a lot of exposure to an international community with differing perspectives and standpoints. The thing is, asking all these questions left me with a disconcerting answer:  above all else, I was really just looking for validation. 

It’s natural to seek affirmation and as humans we all do it. I mean who doesn’t want to know that they are enough; that they’re doing a good job, that they’re attractive or that they’re fun to be around. But in our world of hyper-connectivity this takes on a whole new form, and for some, it’s no longer something sought from loved ones, but from strangers online. And this can be unhealthy because social media isn’t real life. It’s superficial. It gives the people who don’t matter power over your self-worth. 

“If you’re not enough without another like, you’ll never be enough with it.”

I’m ever so grateful for having realized this. It gave me a chance to change and truly accept myself. And so, what was intended to be a month-long experiment turned into a two-year quest of self-discovery. 

So far the journey has changed my life. Refraining from constantly posting to social media taught me to once again appreciate life for what it is. No longer do I have to do things based on how it will be received on social media. Something as simple as going to the beach doesn’t have to be predicated on the Instagram post. Nor do I need to hold off on an amazing meal because I need to edit and post it first. For a change, I do the things I do now because I genuinely want to. 

But more than anything it has given me the opportunity to be present. To be there for the people that do matter and to take a genuine interest in our conversation and connection. And In return, I have received an abundance of love and affirmation social media never could provide. Self-love is something that comes from within, but ultimately, I have come to realize that without the love of those around me, I never would have had the courage to find it. And what’s wonderful about self-love is it frees you from seeking validation, because you’ll already have it within you.  

I’d encourage others to embark on this journey too. If we could all just ask ourselves these questions. Why am I posting this? Am I posting to encourage or empower? Or am I posting because I seek attention or validation? If the answer is yes then perhaps its time to take a step back from social media. You too are deserving of self-love, and your life is destined to be lived. No one can offer you true validation except yourself.


36 questions scientifically proven to make you fall in love with anyone

Can finding love really be this easy?

The internet is bursting at the seams with advice on how to find ‘the one’. When researching this post I was rather surprised to discover that there are literally billions of google results to the query, and this made me wonder.

With so much advice out there, why are so many people still single?

While it’s true that some people are perfectly happy about being single, you don’t have to look too far on social media to see just how many folks are looking to fall in love. Finding the right prospects is clearly a difficult challenge, and that’s not even considering the falling in love part.

Wouldn’t it just be easier if we could look to science, to something we know is proven to create results? 

The good news is we can. In a 1997 SUNY Stony Brook study, psychologist Arthur Aron explored whether intimacy between two perfect strangers could be accelerated by having them ask each other 36 personal questions. He succeeded. 

In the study a heterosexual man and women entered a lab and while sitting face to face they began answering a series of increasingly personal questions. Once the questions where over they stared silently into each other’s eyes for four minutes. 

The interesting part: six months later they were married.

Falling in love is the easy part

Thing is, in an attempt to avoid heartache and rejection we tend to look for scientific answers for love. We may even feel that if we find enough logic behind the love that we may not feel so lonely.

If anything, what the logic behind love provides is patience and comfort – there’s a possibility it might work out. What I found to be really enticing about these 36 questions is that they almost feel like a shortcut to falling in love. A path of less resistance where we may be able to mitigate the risks involved. And that is appealing because falling in love is pretty amazing. Research has shown that love elicits exactly the same dopamine response in our brain as cocaine, food, and alcohol. Love then can literally make us feel high.

While these 36 questions do provide a method for someone to fall in love quickly. It’s also terrifying because it only solves one part of the equation. When we admit to falling in love with someone we open ourselves up to the possibility of having a lot to lose – to getting hurt. 

It’s this notion that brings up an entirely different set of questions. How do we decide who deserves our love? and, how do we know when its appropriate to call things quits? These are very real questions and at some point, they creep into every relationship, and sometimes some are even harder to contemplate, how do we cope with a partner who is in doubt?

Falling in love is therefore not the same as staying in love. We may not always have a choice in who we fall in love with, but we do have a choice in where we take those feelings. And once we do make that choice it is a choice we have to make over and over. It’s scary to not know if your partner will make that choice too. 

The reality is that once the feeling of falling in love wears off a relationship becomes work. Relationships stop being fun when we stop trying to make them fun. But things don’t have to be that way. A 2011 study conducted at Stony Brook University in New York found that it is possible for couples to still be madly in love after decades. With the help of fMRI scans, the study detected the same intensity in dopamine-rich areas as those who are newly in love. While It is natural for a relationship to transform from passion to compassion, the authors of this study suggest that this type of love can be reignited through sex which activates the brain’s rewards circuit with increased oxytocin levels. 

Apart from sexual intimacy, what also seems to be a key factor for successful older relationships is that the partners always chose to work on themselves first – It’s hard to make a relationship work when you’re stuck on your own insecurities. They also chose to work at keeping the excitement alive, and they chose to always celebrate each other’s accomplishments. While this may take some effort, it does sound simple enough.

So, if you’re inspired to whip out these questions on your next date( I know I’m excited to experiment) Just remember the point isn’t just to fall in love. It’s about choosing to make it work in the long run.

36 Questions

Further Reading

This handbook from the very psychologist conducting the 36 question study (and others), brings together the latest thinking on the scientific study of closeness and intimacy from some of the most active and widely recognized relationship scholars in social and clinical psychology, communication studies, and related disciplines.
At last, gay love is here to stay. 
In the era of mobile apps, the gay dating census (aka #BaeBuffet) is literally in the palm of your hands. But how do you sift through all the digital smoke and glitter to find a heart of gold? Enter certified matchmaker and love coach, Amari Ice, and his twelve-step RELATIONSHIP Process
Falling in love is easy. Staying in love—that’s the challenge. How can you keep your relationship fresh and growing amid the demands, conflicts, and just plain boredom of everyday life?
In the #1 New York Times bestseller The 5 Love Languages, you’ll discover the secret that has transformed millions of relationships worldwide. Whether your relationship is flourishing or failing, Dr. Gary Chapman’s proven approach to showing and receiving love will help you experience deeper and richer levels of intimacy with your partner—starting today.

6 surprising reasons to spend more time by yourself

Solitude is often overlooked in our modern always-connected world. Countless experts praise the virtues of being connected; improved stress resilience, immunity, and even an increased lifespan. While being alone is often assumed to imply loneliness. Research even suggests that isolation and loneliness lead to an increase in depression, anxiety, obesity, and even premature death.

That being considered, research is increasingly showing that choosing to experience some moments alone has real benefits too. 


It’s important to remember that there is a very real difference between being alone and being lonely.  Being alone is the act of taking time for yourself between regular social interactions. Loneliness, however, is when you’re isolated from people even though you don’t want to be. The one is chosen, the other is unintended. 


People may fear seclusion at times, but research has shown that some personality types may seek and prefer solitude every now and then. Conventional wisdom points to introverts preferring alone time, while extroverts dislike it. 

But just because you’re an introvert doesn’t mean you like to be alone all the time – even introverts need a social support system. Just like being an extrovert doesn’t necessarily imply that you are incapable of enjoying your own company.   


1. Solitude can lead to self-discovery; finding the true you and your own voice.

In today’s world, we’re constantly bombarded with expectations of who we should be, what we should want, and who we should be with. This sort of environment not only leaves us unsure of who we really are but also insecure about our own decisions. Ultimately, lacking a sense of self could very well lead to or increase anxiety and depression.  

Being alone is an important aspect of anyone’s self-development, and by making time to do things by yourself you’re opening yourself up to regain your sense of self. You won’t be tempted to make decisions or pass on your own passions just to appease others. Not only will you learn new things about yourself but you will also enable yourself to really understand what you stand for. And when we know what we stand for we feel more secure in making decisions that stay true to who we are.  

2. Solitude makes you more empathetic.

We tend to spend the majority of our time around the same group of friends, coworkers, and family. In a way, this puts us in a bubble where we develop a mentality of “we vs. them”. When you spend time alone you may develop more compassion for those who do not fit into your inner circle. 

The same holds true for social media, and while it’s becoming ever so difficult to disconnect, one study has shown that teens who went five days without communication devices were able to improve their ability to interpret emotions and facial expressions. 

3. Solitude can improve your relationships.

We all know the old adage – Absence makes the heart grow fonder. There may be some truth to the statement; one study found that frequent socialization led to a decrease in life satisfaction for intelligent people. 

Social connections are necessary for emotional well being, but taking some me-time every now and then will help you appreciate and value those relationships so much more. 

4. Solitude can make you more productive.

Group work is generally praised for improving collaboration and innovation, and it’s no surprise that even most offices are laid out to facilitate this. But group work can also be incredibly distracting and may ultimately lead to a loss in productivity. 

5. Solitude can improve concentration and memory.

When it comes to group work we suffer from the interesting, yet counterintuitive social loafing bias –  we tend to exert less effort to memorize information because we assume team members will fill in the gap. Research has shown that groups working collaboratively perform worse at recollecting information than their solo working peers.

You can still practice the ethos of solitude even if you don’t have the luxury of working solo on projects:

  • Focus on completing one task at a time
  • Find a quiet spot in the office and set boundaries so everyone knows to leave you in peace for a set period of time
  • Consider working remotely a few days each month or week, be firm with the group on what your goals are and be sure to remove all distractions like social media.

6. Solitude can lead to increased creativity and problem solving.

In keeping with the modern-day office, collaborative brainstorming is often seen as one of the most effective ways to foster new innovative ideas. Research suggests that in general people are better at solving problems when they go at it alone – it’s hard to think of effective solutions when you’re bombarded by distracting information from people. 

Photo by Simon Migaj on Unsplash


Being alone certainly does not come naturally to everyone, one study found that participants would rather administer electrical shocks to themselves than spend 6-15 minutes alone in a room with just their thoughts. Learning the joys of me-time may take some time, but it’s well worth it. 

  • Plan it out. 
    Remember, alone time is planned. Isolation is not. The best me-time usually happens when you have set aside a specific period to be by yourself. It can be as simple as an hour every morning or an entire evening. Once you’ve realized the joys of alone time you may even be tempted to set aside an entire weekend. 
  • Say no to distractions.
    You may find yourself tempted to resort to normalized habits like constantly checking your feed, your mail or even making phone calls. Resist the urge by switching off your devices, leave them out of sight. Rather focus your energy towards something you’ve never gotten around to or better yet, something you wouldn’t normally do. 
  • Value your thoughts.
    With no distractions, you may find some thoughts or inner dialogue you weren’t aware of. Just sit with them and experience them. In doing so you will allow these thoughts to take you on a journey of self-discovery.

You don’t have to escape all forms of external stimulation to experience inner solitude. The point is to engage in activities that allows you to connect with the inner you. For some, it’s as simple as reading a book, some may find that moment through meditation, while others may enjoy the solitude of a solo hike. Just find what works for you and return to it often.


If you’re keen on increasing your sense of self and expanding your knowledge on the topic, check out these awesome books.

The Biography of loneliness is quite a fascinating read and I was so surprised to learn how loneliness is a modern construct. The book takes a look at case studies through the ages to chart the emergence of loneliness in our contemporary world.
Highly recommended! This book is perfect for anyone who wants to discover themselves and live their best life.  The book aims to transform how you live your life, as you find yourself and self-worth. Invest in your happiness.
Delve Deeper into the world of solitude. This bestseller has become a classic and challenges the psychological paradigm where interpersonal relationships are considered the chief source of happiness.

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9 Things to do when you’re feeling not good enough

At some point, we’ve all felt like no matter how hard we try it’s just not enough. Not enough to be accepted, to achieve that goal, to receive that promotion, or to entice and keep that romantic partner happy.

While it is natural for everybody to experience this at times, the problem becomes exaggerated in today’s modern society where everyone’s accomplishments are always on full display. 

It becomes easy to internalize feelings of inadequacy when all you see on social media is how you’re making less money, own fewer or less expensive stuff, take less exciting trips, or are not in that picture-perfect fairy tail relationship.

I’ve been here so many times, and the sad thing is; simple feelings of what I’m doing are not enough can very quickly become an internal crisis of feeling that I am not good enough.

Luckily having been in therapy for years and having read more self-help books than I care to admit has taught me quite a few things to help me address and arrest these feelings as they pop up. 

Here’s a list of 9 I found to be quite useful. 

1. Don’t look outside look within

The most important thing to realize is that this is a feeling that originates from within and you have to take a deep look within yourself to address it. There is certainly a feel-good factor in looking outside; you can ‘reinvent’ yourself by buying new clothes, getting a haircut, or if you’re one for extremes perhaps even a new car.

The thing is, all these external things are just a mask and it’s unsustainable.  It’s the equivalent of hiding a pimple with makeup, just because no one else sees it doesn’t mean you’ve forgotten about its existence. And just like with makeup; hiding the issue won’t cause it to heal but may just lead to it becoming a bigger un-hideable issue.

2. What people have said or done to you is rarely about you

Whatever the criticism or discrimination you have experienced, the truth is it’s not about you at all. 

It’s common for us to internalize what people say, but it’s important to remember that other people too have bad days, weeks or even years. The person doling out the critique may very well be in a bad marriage, dissatisfied with their job or even just carrying around criticism someone else has placed on them. For all you know they’re a victim too, and it’s not uncommon for victims to seek empowerment by becoming abusers themselves

Remind yourself of this whenever you find yourself feeling lesser than because of what someone else has said or done. Realize it’s their baggage and you absolutely don’t have to carry their negativity around for them.

3. Be realistic with expectations of yourself

Authenticity has become a rarity in our world of curated social media. People rarely post about their struggles or their bad times. Instead, we overplay the happy, fun and exciting times. Social media is really just a highlight reel with a few weird flexes and humblebrags. Now I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with celebrating the good, but honestly, I sometimes wonder just how much of what I’m seeing online is masked reality. 

Keeping this in mind, it’s important to remember the grass really isn’t always greener on the other side. Comparing yourself with what someone else chooses to portray is a recipe for disaster. It just leaves you with unrealistic expectations of being good enough, because comparisons is an unwinnable trap and happiness equals reality minus expectations

While it’s true that there will always be someone richer, smarter, more attractive and more successful than us, these things don’t necessarily imply these people are happier than us. Because guess what, the same holds true for them. Even for them, there will always be someone with ‘more’ for them to compare themselves too.

Whenever I find myself in the comparison trap I always try and compare myself with myself. Sounds silly, but it’s a much better alternative to see how far you’ve come, how you’ve grown and what you’ve achieved as compared to the younger you. 

Photo by Mathieu Stern on Unsplash

4. Be strict with social media

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with checking out your feed and connecting with people on social media. But the thing is, social media is quite addictive. It’s designed to be and before you know it, just enough time has passed for you to be tempted by the comparison game. Don’t get lost on social media, try limiting yourself to 30 minutes a day. Better yet, see how many days you can go without checking your feed at all.

If like me you’re struggling to limit your social media exposure; try using an app that tracks and block online time, and as a bonus, you’ll also be more present, focussed and productive. Don’t know where to start, these 10 apps can block social media.

Photo by ROBIN WORRALL on Unsplash

5. Your thoughts are not your reality

In so many ways we’re often our own worst enemies, especially when we’re prone to negative self-talk. From time to time we all ruminate about our decisions, our lives, and even our mistakes. And when combined with the comparison trap these thoughts can turn into a spiral of negative self-talk. Thoughts of being single right now can quickly turn into thoughts of being unattractive or boring, and before you know it you’re thinking you are going to die alone.  

The thing is to not be so quick at believing every thought that comes into your mind. You have the power to define your reality and the way you see yourself. 

When I find myself going down a negative thought spiral, I try to reframe the situation. What’s the exception to the negative thought? 

For example:

I’m single right now, but is it because I’m undatable, or because I haven’t put myself out there. Or, I didn’t complete the perfect project at work, but was this due to my own unrealistic expectations? After all, I did finish it on time and it was according to the brief. 

Photo by Nik Shuliahin on Unsplash

6. Be present and take joy in the process

Remember we’re all just a work in progress. Life is a collection of steps and we are not who we were 5 years ago, nor who we will be 5 years from now. If you’re focused on what you did wrong in the past or obsessed over who you want to become in the future. You’ll not only miss out on truly enjoying the now, but you’ll put yourself under so much unneeded stress and pressure.

And the funny thing is, it doesn’t matter how good your intentions are. If you’re stressed about them you’re more likely to choke and fail. When you’re stressed about something it becomes your foremost thought and recent findings in cognitive psychology and neuroscience have found that performance falters when you concentrate too much attention on it. 

Simply put, worrying about screwing it up makes it all the more likely that you will screw it up. 

Let go of expecting ‘perfection’. Stop asking yourself if you’re doing it right, if you’re going to lose your job or if you look like an idiot. Just look at it for what it is. Each moment and action is just one step of the many that lead to the bigger picture. If you look for moments of growth you may just surprise yourself by enjoying them.

Photo by Ankush Minda on Unsplash

7. Leave the bottling to Coca-Cola

So often I find myself in situations where someone would speak about their current struggles only to shut it off by saying they don’t want to be negative and then change the topic. I can understand where this is coming from, I mean, no one likes to be surrounded by someone who is constantly dropping their ‘baggage’ on you. Perhaps our curated world of social media has made being authentic something that feels unnatural to us, sharing your emotions does not make you a negative nancy. 

The thing is, it is exactly when we don’t vent about our frustrations and struggles that we give them the power to culminate our mental state into a place where we become just that. Obsessed with our baggage. And if that’s not bad enough recent studies have shown how bottling and suppressing our emotions can lead to a 30% increase in premature death. Yikes.

Rather than keeping your emotions bottled up, you could let them out in one of the following ways.


Over the years I’ve learned to write down my thoughts on a daily basis. It is quite a relief to have all those thoughts on paper rather than just swirling around in my head. Writing things down provides more than relief, but also an overview of where your head is at. It’s like an inventory to all your concerns which makes it easier to see where your challenges lie. When you look back at days you can see just how wrong you were about not being good enough in some areas, and how you’re continually focused on not being good enough in others. Knowing which thoughts persists allows you to address and also discuss them with someone.

Vent to a friend.

True friends never mind. The most wonderful thing about talking it through with a close friend is that, they know you and this will allow them to ground you when you’re overthinking things. They can tailor their advice to you and give you a new perspective. More than just advice you can also ask your friend to help you come up with a plan to arrest your thoughts of not being good enough in a specific situation. Like practicing for a job interview or going through talking points on that upcoming date. 

Don’t be scared of the professionals.

Even today there is still so much stigma around therapy. I find it so interesting how we as a society in general still rob ourselves of mental growth by thinking psychology is for the weak and mentally disturbed. Seeking professional help certainly does not make you weak, on the contrary, it takes a really strong person to admit they do not have the tools to fix a problem themselves.

Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash

8. Practice gratitude daily

I always thought I knew the meaning of being grateful, but it wasn’t until I started practicing gratitude on a daily basis that I truly understood what it really meant. There is a difference in being grateful for the odd gift every now and then, and realizing just how much we have to be grateful for on a daily basis.

If anything practicing gratitude is the opposite of playing the comparison game because it helps you realize just how much you really have. Happiness and gratitude go hand in hand and there has been a lot of research that shows how gratitude encourages positive emotions, improves health, relationships and also helps to deal with adversity.

Start practicing gratitude by writing a daily list of 10 things. Believe me, it will feel silly at first but focus on making this a habit by keeping things simple. You can write down things like; how grateful you are for the people in your life, your job, for having food on the table and even being able to breathe, cause that’s pretty amazing.

As it becomes more of a habit you will find it to be much easier, and I’ll encourage you to start expanding on each point because ultimately the beauty lies within why you’re grateful. 

For example:

It’s one thing to say: I’m grateful for my romantic partner. 

It’s another to say: I’m grateful for having found the most amazing person who is my best friend and who makes me laugh. I’m grateful for how X fulfills my emotional needs and how X always knows how to pick me up when I’m down. I’m grateful that X has been there for me unconditionally trough x,y and z and I’m grateful for all Xs love, cuddles, and effection. I’m truly grateful that I can love and return all of this to X with the same unconditionality.  

Photo by Freshh Connection on Unsplash

9. Self-love

Sometimes the most difficult thing to do when we’re feeling down is practicing self-love rather than self-defeat. It is necessary to truly experience and feel your emotions, but staying focussed on them will only leave you feeling worse. And yes sometimes beating yourself up over something can be a good encouragement to do it better the next time around, but more often than not it will burn out your emotions and destroy your motivation. 

I always think of self-love as treating yourself just as you would treat the people you most care about. Kindness, love, and generosity. The list is endless, but here are a few ways you could show yourself, love. 

  1. Whatever situation you find yourself in treating yourself with kindness. Ask yourself, if my bestie went through this, how would I help them? 
  2. Celebrate all your wins and not just the big ones. Pat yourself on the back and you’ll be more motivated for the next step.
  3. Get creative and let the inner child come out to play. Remember it’s about expressing yourself in whichever medium you fancy and not about impressing anyone, so just mute the internal critic.
  4. Never allow yourself to believe you’re in it alone. Vent baby, vent!
  5. Treat yourself. Usually, when we give someone something that is special to them, we do so because we want to show them how much they mean to us. Why then do we not do this for ourselves? 

Struggling to think of more? Check out this wonderful list of self-love acts.

Photo by Shaira Dela Peña on Unsplash

Further Reading

Keen to be proactive in turning not good enough into fabulous? Check out these awesome books.

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