As we plan for studio return anyone feeling IMPOSTER SYNDROME creeping in…?

It’s something we all get from time to time, not matter how many years and decades we’ve been teaching… I always notice it strongly as that icky uncertain feeling of dread when the summer holidays are coming to an end and I have to get my head back into dancing and class planning. And I suddenly get this pang of…Help. I can’t do it anymore.

As we prepare to return to the studios after this crazy year on and off of lockdown, imposter syndrome might be getting the better of some of us. Here are some ways to overcome it…

Imposter syndrome usually happens after a long period away from something; you suddenly doubt your ability to jump back into it, but after the first session back, it’s gone and you’re back into the swing of things like you’ve never been away.

But although the above is a light example it can be quite debilitating for some, so much so that it stops them pursuing a dream or even a skill they are incredibly good at. It comes down greatly to self belief and the tools you have under your belt (such as a mindfulness practice) to help you deal with these imposing ‘inner critic’ thoughts.

However. None of us are immune to this! It happen to the most confident and collected of people at the strangest of times.

If you have a team of teachers it worth talk about imposter syndrome at your next meeting, especially as part of the transition back to the studio and how to deal with it. It’s a common thing many of them might be feeling silently, particulary after lockdown and a long period away from the studio.

Here’s how to curb it…

  • Open up and feel less alone openly talking about it makes us all realise we all get this to some degree, and sometimes just knowing that helps dispel it as something unique to you or innately wrong with your abilities!
  • Keep a log of the good bits – a long term strategy, if you know you always get those imposter syndrome feelings. Cards and messages from people, but also remember times when you were really ‘in flow’ and the kids were loving what you were doing, you were loving it, you were in your element, time was passing unnoticed, etc. This can help to have these around your office if you have one, or simply pinned to the fridge.
  • Plan for the worst – a child has a panic attack in my class and I won’t know how to handle it, I forget the choreography I was going to teach, I forget my music and my speaker and there’s no spare one at the studio. Write them ALL down. If there are any genuine worries there once you have, you can then tame them with ‘if then’ planning. I.e. Knowing what you will do in the case of each scenario. Again, write the if then planning down next to each if it helps. Sometimes just thinking this through is enough. You could even do this as an exercise as part of a team meeting altogether. Brainstorm the ‘if then’ planning for every worry that could come up for teachers in a class scenario. Ask them, what are your top three worries? Help them plan for the worries, then let them go.
  • Take a deep breath and stand tall (fake it!) Basically, trick our brain. Do the things we would do if we were calm and confident. Walk and breathe like that, send messages to your brain that you’ve got this. You can even use positive affirmations if you find they help. For example, ‘I can do this. I am a good teacher.’ What story are you wanting to tell the world outwardly? Think of a graceful SWAN gliding along the top of the water. This is how we want to appear in the face of a worry. Even if, like the swan, our feet are flapping manically underneath the water out of sight.
  • Take the class through a relaxation or breathing exercise – a cheeky way to help you in the moment! If you are struggling in a class at any point, sit them down and do a simple mindful breathing exercise or something that helps them connect with their senses and get out of their thoughts for a minute or two. It will be wonderful for them and wonderful for you too! Not time lost or wasted.
  • Keep a child in mind – when imposter syndrome hits, I find the best strategy for me is to try to forget myself (in terms of the negative inner critic thoughts) and think about a certain student who needs me or gets great joy or benefit from the classes I deliver. A child who you know you make a huge difference to. This helps you to anchor yourself and loose the overwhelm of the whole class feeling – just think of that one student. Imagining them helps you reconnect with your purpose and the rest will follow…

Enjoy being back!

Amy & Natalie x

P.S. For exact strategies and tools to hep you bring a fun and accessible wellbeing focus into your dance school – for both your teaching team and your dancers – join us Tuesday 6th April 10:30am-12:30pm (BST) for our online seminar ‘Your Wellbeing Roadmap for Return to the Studio‘. Replay / recording included and CPD certificate of hours.

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