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  • Writer's pictureSarah Santiago

Do what scares you!

Do what scares you, as long as it's safe, and also excites you! A colleague of mine says "do it nervous, but do it". Glennon Doyle says: "We can do hard things". However you prefer to word it- don't let your fears stop you from living the life you want to live!

Imposter syndrome and self-doubt can make us feel like we should avoid doing new things, even if a piece of us really wants to (or wishes that we could). Our brains are designed to keep us safe, and to our brains new opportunities and change can feel risky and scary. Even when we know that the change is good, it's normal to have thoughts that try to discourage us from making change. Change is hard.

Sarah Santiago, licensed counselor in michigan who provides counseling for college students smiles while standing next to the hosts of Marquette's Upper Michigan Today, while she was featured on an episode to discuss college student anxiety and self-care.

Recently I was invited to my local news channel to join the hosts of Upper Michigan Today to discuss mental health, and the five areas of self-care. I was so excited about this opportunity, but I also experienced nervous thoughts. After agreeing to do it, my brain started reminding me of all the embarrassing moments I've experienced in past: the time I was 16 and froze up on live TV, or the time I had pregnancy brain while giving a presentation at a university and completely forgot what I was saying mid-sentence. My brain tried very hard to talk me out of this exciting opportunity, something it has done many times throughout my life.

Luckily for me I have a huge toolbox due to my previous experiences with impostor syndrome, and because I'm a licensed therapist who helps my clients identify tools to overcome their own self-doubt. Here are some things I want you to remember about self-doubt:

  1. Our thoughts are not always facts. We can think something but that does not necessarily mean that it's true. When I catch myself thinking that I'm not qualified enough to do a TV interview, I turn to the evidence. I have two degrees, I have passed my boards, I am fully licensed and certified, and have been providing therapy for nearly a decade now. I am very qualified and those are the facts. I have to remember that this specific thought is my fear of failure manifesting as thoughts, and they are not true.

  2. You've survived all of your hardest days, failures, and embarrassing moments. You will continue to! When I catch myself worrying that I'm going to embarrass myself by putting myself out there, I remember the times that I have embarrassed myself and how I survived. Was it fun, not always. Did I make it, absolutely! In fact, those past embarrassing moments have pushed me to prepare a bit more for new opportunities to potentially decrease my chances of slipping up. But in the end, I am human and humans make mistakes. I tell myself that I will embarrass myself again, it's normal, I can own it and keep moving forward. It's ok!

  3. I adopt a growth mindset and remember that failure often leads to success. Every time I've failed, I've learned a lot and have been able to take a different but better for me path, or I've learned how to attempt to tackle the thing even better. Failure is never fun but it allows us to tap into our creative problem solving abilities. Some of the most successful famous people have failed several times before "making it"- google it! It's empowering!

  4. Fake it till you make it, baby! I reflect on the life I would would live if I didn't have any fears, and then I simply pretend that I don't have those fears. I know it sounds so simple and cliché, but sometimes it really can be so helpful to just fake the confidence that you wish you had. It can make all the difference!

  5. I reflect on what it felt like to push through my fears in the past to achieve my goals. It's actually one of my favorite feelings. I feel so incredibly strong, powerful, and capable when I've pushed past my feelings of self-doubt to accomplish something new. Some of my life's proudest moments are times in which I didn't let my fears and self-doubt stop me.

I'm a therapist who helps people work though their self-doubt to achieve their goals and live the life they want to live; but I'm also a human being who experiences self-doubt from time to time. I practice what I preach and I apply the tools and coping skills that I teach my clients about, to my own life. I'm not special, I've failed many times, embarrassed myself many times, and I know that I will continue to. You can learn to overcome your own self-doubt too. If you need help know that there are plenty of experts out there who have a plethora of tools to help you make your dreams a reality!

Do hard things that scare you; as long as they are safe and excite you!

What scary things have you done? What helps you push past your own self-doubt? I'd love to hear your tips below!

PS- I had a wonderful time on Upper Michigan Today and it feels great to have once again pushed through my nerves and met another goal! If you'd like to watch a recording you can do so here!

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