Balance Your Solar Plexus to Combat Imposter Syndrome

Turn highly sensitive characteristics into a power tool for your writing career.


“I’m a fraud!”

“I’m not a good enough writer.”

“What am I thinking? No one will be interested in reading my work.”

Any of these self-deprecating mantras resonate with you?

Mantra. There’s a word. If you’re thinking it’s one that doesn’t quite gel with the negative connotation preceding it, then you’d be right. Words like ‘self-deprecating’. A quick squiz at Wikipedia will inform you that the word “mantra” denotes a sacred meaning, a numinous sound or utterance — ‘A group of words in Sanskrit believed by practitioners to have psychological and/or spiritual powers’.

No, I’m not delusional (yet!) nor am I messing around with your head. I’m not attempting to spin a dark twist on an ancient practice rooted in the divine, either, but I did choose the word ‘mantra’ for a reason.

Still uncertain about my intentions? Read on, skeptic creatives, as I attempt to dissect our self-sabotaging inner-demons and pave a way to eliminate those bad boys forever.

Imposter syndrome (IS) is a psychological phenomenon in which people are unable to internalize their accomplishments. In a nutshell, IS boils down to lack of self-belief and self-confidence. This upbeat, feel-good phenomenon isn’t just reserved for the creatives of the world. We’re not so special in that regard. It affects people in all walks of life. However, are you aware that creatives are almost always highly sensitive people who respond to the world in a more reactive way? Nuances like IS are always lingering beneath the surface, ready to pounce.

The nature of writing is an extremely personal practice. Through our words we purge our souls, bleed our hearts, drown in our experiences and flirt with our innermost fears and desires.

We draw on those cards; writers write about what obsesses them.

But finding the courage to go there doesn’t always equate with the fearlessness required when the time comes to share our gift with the world. For highly sensitive people, this is the moment when imposter syndrome strikes like an old relic you cannot shake.

You know what I’m saying. It’s that moment of truth. You’ve just spent countless hours banging on the keyboard and drinking endless cups coffee. You are a writer — committed to story and dedicated to producing your best work and all that entails as you’ve persevered through the long journey. You’ve plotted and outlined. You’ve developed and argued with your characters; you’ve spent more time procrastinating than you’ll admit, and there were times when you succumbed to resistance. Afterwards, you probably paid with a hefty side of guilt. You’ve gnawed, screamed and knuckled down. Then you’ve pushed through the creative blocks and rejoiced when those sweet, magical bouts of inspiration arrived to flow into your words.

Ah, the life of a writer — fascinating yet frustrating all at the same time. And rewarding, because all those hours accumulated to produce your baby, and now that you’ve cleaned, pampered and typed the last words on your preciousness, other people are going to read your work. People are going to judge your intellectual labor too. Cringe.

Brace yourself, dear writer, as you battle those rancid nerves and sometimes forget that you need to breathe. I’m not sure this feeling will ever completely subside but I can offer you a few tools to combat those inner brutes as well as provide suggestions for turning highly sensitive characteristics into a power tool for your writing career.

So, take a deep breath as we get into the guts of this article.

High Sensitivity is a Superpower

Science has confirmed the existence of high sensitivity (did we really need it validated?). In fact, research has showed about 20% of the population are highly sensitive by default. What I mean is that people don’t choose to respond to the world in a sensitive way, they just do.

Before you go brushing this trait away as a sign of weakness, think again. Studies reveal that highly sensitive people (HSP) are often intellectually gifted and are extremely empathetic creatures. They have a heightened sense of awareness too, with an uncanny ability to pick up on the emotions and vibes of those around them. Additionally, highly sensitive people are more likely to cultivate and trust their ability to become attuned and communicate with their higher-mind, AKA their inner-guidance system. Superpowers!

Being a highly sensitive person can mean pain. Quite literally. You may experience acute physical, mental or emotional responses to many situations. These triggers may be external or internal (damned those intrapersonal feedback loops!) While some people want to accredit high sensitivity to the shy at heart, this is not always the case. They can be introverted, extroverted or somewhere in between. However, the traits making you highly sensitive can also be a magical gift for being an amazing writer. Let’s look at how we can use sensitivity to enrich our creative writing.

Embrace your Super-Sensitive Qualities.

Observant

HSPs are aware of details. This characteristic is invaluable as a writer. Often, the small details in our stories can be overlooked or drowned in the bigger global story. Whether it’s story structure and plot or character development, paying attention to detail can provide the qualities and insights that will enable our manuscripts to shine.

Imagination

This mystical resource is critical to the success of every fiction writer. However, the best fiction taps into the minute details that brings characters and scenes to life.For example: An unexpected character thought, reaction, oddity or flaw; the paint flaking as a door opens; the slight limp in his swagger; the way her eyes glaze when she becomes whimsical. You get the drift. Without extreme sensitivity, these details might be impossible to capture.

Generosity

Writing is sharing information and giving to the world. This is particularly true for non-fiction writers. Our true intentions stretch beyond literal recognition or other desires. The act of being an author is generous. Non-fiction authors spend hours tapping into their most sensitive parts — downloading their brain, coordinating and cataloging their thoughts to produce their most useful information to benefit others.

Now that we’ve plunged into why imposter syndrome may be a prominent factor affecting writers and covered a few ways high sensitivity can positively impact our creative work, it’s time to break open the shell, reach within and circle back to those mantras. It’s time to explore the Solar Plexus, discover its key characteristics and how we can make the most of this powerful energy center.

The Solar Plexus is part of the sympathetic nervous system.

This complex system of radiating nerves and ganglia is found in the pit of the stomach. While it plays a vital role in the functioning of the stomach, kidneys, liver, and adrenal glands, this bunch of nerves is also responsible for anxiety symptoms.

That’s right; after the initial rush of excitement accompanying a book release, how often does that high suddenly fade into an internal slide into self-doubt and belief? If this scenario sounds familiar to you, then you’ll know it’s a bad case of imposter syndrome that’s making you feel like a walking scam.

Considering it is the Solar Plexus in our physical bodies that lies at the center of these discordant feelings, we’re going to push beyond the flesh, nerves and ganglia to explore this part of ourselves in a somewhat intangible sense. We’re going to get a little esoteric and discuss the Solar Plexus Chakra.

You’ve probably heard about the seven chakras that exist in our subtle etheric bodies. They are often referenced in the context of emotional healing or meditation. However, you may have found the concept confusing, or not quite figured out what place it might have in your life. But don’t fret, it’s not just the experts that can work with chakras; you can too.

The Solar Plexus Chakra is the third chakra. It is located just above your navel, resonating with the color yellow. This is the energy center associated with self-belief, self-worth, ego, courage, confidence, and personal power. It is vital for this energy center to be balanced so that we don’t experience negative emotional issues.

Let’s examine some of the main elements correlating with the third chakra before moving on to talk about a few alternative approaches we can take to ease our anxiety when it comes to those jarring feelings imposter syndrome can produce.

Key Meanings Associated with the Solar Plexus Chakra.

· Willpower and personal power

· Taking responsibility for one’s life, accepting self-control

· Mental abilities — the intellect

· Forming personal opinions and beliefs

· Making decisions, setting the direction

· Clarity of judgment

· Personal identity

· Personality

· Self-assurance, self-confidence

· Self-discipline

· Independence

Signs your Solar Plexus Chakra may be Imbalanced.

· Excessive control and authority over your environment and people

· Or the opposite in case of blocked energy: Feelings of helplessness.

· Being obsessed with minute details, seeing life through a filter of negativity which may cause you to lose sight of the bigger picture

· Being manipulative

· Misusing your power

· Lack of clear direction, purpose or ambition

· Self-sabotaging behavior and feelings

The Solar Plexus Chakra plays an important role in our self-confidence and self-worth. When this area is out of balance or blocked, we can experience feelings of depression or anxiety, lack of self-control and low self-esteem. These symptoms can also manifest physically and may include:

· Constipation

· Irritable bowel problems

· Reflux problems

· Binge eating

· Addiction

· Overweight or underweight issues

· Diabetes and stomach ulcers

As we move through life, it is important for us to maintain our health in all facets — mind, body and soul. Given the nature of our hyper-connected world, sometimes this can be a challenging state to achieve. If your personality leans toward the highly sensitive side, events like book releases can become overwhelming, particularly when facing deep-seated, self-worth issues fanned by the frenetic flames of imposter syndrome.

By focusing on clearing the Solar Plexus chakra, we can find balance in those moments when dissonance becomes a prominent emotion. Here are a few tools to get you back on track and back to the page.

Crystals for Third Chakra Balance.

Did you know that crystals vibrate with specific frequencies of color and light? There are many crystals and gemstones that help to balance and clear the Solar Plexus Chakra of blockages. Solar Plexus Chakra crystals include:

Citrine

Happiness and confidence, emits large amounts of positive energy. This crystal encourages you to maintain a positive state of mind to attract everything you want in life.

Pyrite

A crystal of positive energy. Helpful for negative thoughts fixed on misfortune and despair.

Yellow Calcite

Helps to increase your vitality and strength. It can give one new hope and a renewed sense of optimism.

Tiger Eye

Helps to release fears and anxieties. It is a great stone for giving courage and self-confidence. Particularly helpful for those who experience lack of self-worth.

Now that we’ve lined up a few crystals, you may be wondering how we’re going to use these gem-babies to help balance our energy center. I have two words for you — meditation and mantras. Yes, this is the part we turn those self-deprecating “mantras” into something positive. So, grab your crystals and let’s get started!

Meditation and Crystals for Third Chakra Balance.

Meditation is an extremely effective way to balance and clear your chakras. The following is an example of how to combine crystals with meditation and mantras when your Solar Plexus Chakra feels out of balance.

1. Hold your crystals in your non-dominant hand while sitting or place them on your body above the naval while lying down.

2. Inhale deeply and imagine a white light coming into the top of your head, allow the light to fill your entire body.

3. When you exhale, imagine any negative energy releasing from your body through your breath — consciously release any low energy vibes and stress.

4. Envision a golden ball of light below your naval spinning clockwise. Every time you inhale, imagine this light growing bigger and brighter. As you breathe out imagine all the blockages and negative energy leaving your being.

Mantras for Third Chakra Balance.

· I am a great writer

· Through my words, I have much to offer the world

· I can make a difference

· I believe in myself

· I am confident

· I am worthy of success, happiness, love (or insert desirable outcome here)

· I am grateful for the opportunities presented to me

· I am a creative writer

· I have the courage to keep going and conquer my fears

· I am everything I wish to bring forth

I’m certain you’ll agree these affirmations sound more like the sacred mantras Wikipedia told us about earlier, right? The greatest thing about practicing mantras is that you can offer yourself any positive outcome you desire. Your thoughts and words have power beyond the ones you release to the world in the form of your stories. They also form the essence of who you are, so choose them wisely.

Now that you’ve become more acquainted with imposter syndrome and high sensitivity and discovered ways to balance your all-powerful Solar Plexus Chakra, it’s worth remembering how important it is to practice self-care.

When you balance your Solar Plexus center, you will feel lighter and confident, and recognize your true potential. You are a creative being, here to spread love into the world through your words and creations. Keeping yourself balanced and cultivating your self-belief will not only improve your quality of life, but also reflect in your work.

Give it a shot sometime; what have you got to lose other than the demonic imposter syndrome?


Originally Published by The Ascent on Medium


Writing Through Disaster and Conflict

It is our emotions that are our greatest muse.


Natural disasters. Terrorism. Racism. Human rights. Animal cruelty. Inequality.

The world won’t stop for you. Nature will always do its thing, and people … well, they will always be people. Personally, I am among the benevolent among humanity. There is not an inch of me that understands the unjust behaviors often displayed by mankind. I reject discrimination, hate and fear. I reject cruelty of all kinds — violence, malicious intent, inequality, intolerance, corruption and the mistreatment of animals. I renounce spite, resentment and narrow-mindedness.

Humanity is capable of deplorable acts and a merciless attitude. For those that feel deeply, live compassionately and with heart, these immoral behaviors can be extremely unsettling. I turn away from that which affects me negatively and focus on bringing positive and uplifting qualities into the world.

Sometimes, it can be difficult to ignore the ugly stuff. Sometimes, it hits close to home. So close, the option to ignore becomes impossible.

Other times, we are faced with issues and situations at the micro level; personal conditions involving love and relationships, responsibilities, an unseen event or financial concerns. Those are the ordeals we can’t pretend don’t exist. At least, not for very long. Those conditions are a part of life and are also the ones that grip our emotions and cause our bodies to react in some way as our nerves stretch to the very edge.

Stress. It affects us all at some point in varying degrees. Whether it is becoming disturbed about the horrible things affecting our world or our personal experiences, we have no choice but to learn how to cope with the twists and turns life throws at us. Professional writer or not, I believe writing has many benefits from the psychological standpoint. But as writers and creatives, it is through the written word that we find the perfect outlet to work through our emotions, as well as drive home our beliefs and visions for the world. Depending on where you want to take it.

We are complex creatures with many layers and depth. We view the world through the fluidity of our unique perspectives as we evolve, change and reach for new experiences. We are the flesh and blood; the tangible and malleable. Yet, we are also the esoteric and the mysterious; the light and the dark dwell within each of us. And it is our emotions that are our greatest muse.

Words are power

‘Everything begins with words — our stories, thoughts, messages. Each word has its own vibration too. It is these vibrations that create the reality that surrounds us. Words create more than just stories; they inform our universe, our lives and our reality — and they teach us. Through creating words, I have managed to reacquaint myself more fully with my soul and to live a more authentic, love-driven and passionate life.’

– From Creative Writing Energy

Exploring our feelings through writing — personal journals or storytelling — is extremely therapeutic. Some of these benefits include:

Finding clarity 

By expressing yourself and communicating complex ideas in a much more effective way, you can discover your true self and honor that part of you.

Eliminate stress 

Emptying your mind through writing helps to eliminate the stress hammering in your head. Capturing those moments, developing and working through your ideas produces a ripple effect; since not only do you declutter your mind, but it is also a process of rationalization.

Productivity

Writing activates neurons in your brain and gets you set to face the day. It is demonstrated that setting your goals or systems in writing significantly increases the possibilities of achieving them.

You will learn more 

About yourself, the world and others.

You will strengthen and cultivate your writing skills. You will find your voice.

You will gain awareness 

 If you write down what you have in mind regularly — your dreams, worries, fears, deepest desires — you will realize yourself.

So, now that we’ve explored some of the benefits of writing, let’s take a quick look at how we can use our emotions in our work to enrich our characters and stories.

Frustrated or angry

Use the rage to create story conflict. Inject the anger into your words and release the tension. You’ll find those pages to be edgy and fast, your characters a little narky or moody. Get gritty, dark, even profane. Burn your scenes with the crude and rude, twist the plot with vengeance in your heart and your readers will thank you.

Heartache 

Even better. Those words will capture depth and authenticity, pain and despair. Use the turbulent heart to stain your words with grief, bitterness and agony. Your characters are now real, complicated and imperfect. Your plot may be a little dangerous, shady or inspirational. Whatever feeling you’re attempting to convey, it will be sure to bring your readers to their knees as they resonate with your energy.

Happy-go-lucky 

Humor brings joy to the world and to your readers. Allow your happiness to bounce into your words and fill the pages with positivity and feelgood vibes. Surge ahead and spread the happy!

Love 

Alchemy and deep treasures abound through words of love. There is nothing more sacred in the world. By allowing your love to infect your story, you become an instrument of the highest order. The greatest mystery; the pinnacle of life — love. Deep love. It doesn’t get more real than this. The world cannot get enough of this stuff. Neither can your readers.

Despair and Gloom 

The heartbeat of your story; the why, how and where. The all-is-lost moment — vanished goals, mammoth obstacles, impossible situations — build the conflict for your characters and make your story matter. There is a time for everything; a time for tears and expressing the darkness; a time to mourn and wallow in pain. It is through pain that we learn our greatest lessons; through pain that we are reminded we’re still alive. Lend your characters the gift of pain and feel your own lighten in return.

Whether we’re reacting to widespread chaos, disasters or events in the greater world or the experiences we endure in our own worlds, writing is an exceptional tool to use to navigate those rocky waters and glorious peaks life offers us. So, the next time you are feeling a strong emotion, go ahead and get into your writing and see where it takes you.

Our stories can uplift the world one reader at a time. The world needs your emotionally driven words now more than ever. The world needs your love and emotion in all its forms.


Dirty Dancing

“Nobody puts Baby in the corner.”

~ Johnny Castle (Dirty Dancing)

I always wondered what happened after Johnny plucked “Baby” from that corner and they were done with that last dance. Did they make it?

We got the pay-off in the form of Johnny asserting his position for his girl, experiencing the feel-good pleasures when our bad boy came back for our protagonist. Our hearts fluttered and soared as he mouthed the words “I’ve had the time of my life. No, I’ve never felt this way before” while holding her close. Yet, as the credits rolled out to the catchy tune, I found myself somewhat mystified.

Call me a stick-in-the-mud if you must, but I was never completely sold on that romance. The chemistry between Patrick Swayze and Jennifer Grey lingered somewhere in the sludge I’m playing with, getting my hands dirty while seemingly bagging the movie.

In the context of relationships, chemistry is a simple feeling people get when they share a special connection. It’s that underlying impulse and need to see the other person again, to be close to them – a romantic spark. This is the part between the characters that I felt wasn’t conveyed through the screen. 

Having said that, I must somewhat digress. Just a little. I’m thinking of the scene where “Baby” shows up at Johnny’s doorstep after her father saved Penny from certain death following a dodgy abortion. Johnny tells her he’s never met anyone like her, that she’s not scared of anything. Her response gets me every time when she says:

“Me? I’m scared of everything; I’m scared of what I saw, of what I did, of who I am. Most of all I’m scared of walking out of this room and never feeling my whole life the way I feel when I’m with you.”

Sigh.

That is one great dialogue delivered with just the right amount of vulnerability. You can grumble all you want about not being a romantic, but if that line doesn’t make you feel something, then perhaps your heart is caked with a thick slick of that mud you thought I was stuck in.

Need some help getting clean?

The truth is, I’m not writing about Dirty Dancing today because I wanted to talk about romance or sexual chemistry. Despite my personal take on the on-screen chemistry (or lack thereof) between Patrick and Jennifer, the romantic “coming of age” love story hit the archetypical “forbidden love” romance conventions superbly, making a gazillion dollars worldwide and going on to become the first film to sell more than a million copies for home video.

Obviously, something worked. Maybe it was that line of Baby’s. Or the undeniably hot dancing scenes, which let’s face it, sizzled up movie screens and temperatures the world over. Someone pass me the ice as I gear up to tell you something strange.

Strange things. Other than people, the universe is always communicating and responding to us in some way. It may sound a touch on the “woo-woo” side and whether you believe or not is your thing. But it’s when you begin to tune into yourself and the energy around you that you start to become aware of the most uncanny and wonderful things happening for you.    

I hadn’t thought about Dirty Dancing for the longest of times, yet now, it seems to have become something in my life. At least, temporarily. No, I’m not planning on taking Mambo or Salsa lessons, or writing a romance novel any time soon (I’ll leave the romance writing to Catherine Evans). It’s just that suddenly, this romantic 1987 American flick has begun to shadow me and I’m not entirely sure why.

It began a few weeks back when I meandered to the couch with my plate of dinner and flicked on the TV. Dirty Dancing flitted onto the screen. This is the only time I might actually watch something on TV, and only for the length of time it takes for me to finish eating. It was good enough to grab my attention for that snippet of time.

I felt something shift slightly within me. When you become attuned to the universal consciousness, your inner reactions to your senses are a telltale sign to pay attention. Still, I switched off the movie after about 15 minutes and thought no more of it.

Fast forward one week and I experienced a repeat. That’s right. I grabbed my dinner, made for the couch, turned on the TV and there it was again, Dirty Dancing. This time, I’d caught the above-mentioned scene; Solomon Burke’s Cry to Me caught somewhere in my chest as I bit my lip and turned off the TV. 

Gets even stranger. I downloaded the album so I could hear that song again. Only, that track isn’t included on the iTunes soundtrack (true). But, She’s Like the Wind is, and it grabbed my attention, so I listened. When the song traveled from my buds and into my ears, what happened was something I’ll never forget.

The following day, that same song was playing when I stopped by my local store to pick a few things, and ever since I downloaded the album, my iPad has taken to randomly playing She’s Like the Wind all on its own. Which has never happened before. Like, ever.

My mother often wonders why stuff like this occurs in my life. I tell her it’s not that the signs aren’t there for her, but that she’s not paying enough attention to catch onto them. When we make a conscious choice to become aware of and push beyond our preconceived ideas of the world, we begin to open our mind to perceive and receive more information from a greater intelligence. And I can’t begin to convey the appreciation I feel to be able to tap into this part of our world.

As these beautiful unseen forces are currently slapping me in the face with a bit of the Dirty stuff, I can’t help but wonder again what had struck me so long ago when first watching the movie. After the summer spent at the Catskills Resort and it was time to return to the “real world”, did Johnny and “Baby” ever make it? Was their love strong enough to overcome the obstacles they would have had to face?

I guess we make up that part of the story as we go.