How To Rewire Your Brain To Become A Secret Cheerleader [Episode 046]

Last week we talked about the praise-criticism rollercoaster. And today I'm sharing with you one of my favourite techniques that you can start using, right away, to get off it!

This episode is for you if you ever find yourself beating yourself up, deflecting praise, and lying awake for far too long at 3am worrying about somehow not being good enough.

It's not your fault - it's simply that your brain (and body) have accidentally got wired to look for what you're doing wrong. And this technique rewires all of that - painlessly, I promise - so you can start to turn your inner critic into a genuine cheerleader.

In just sixty seconds a day.

What You'll Discover Today About How To Rewire Your Brain To Become A Secret Cheerleader

  • Why mindset and pep talks aren't enough to get you off the praise-criticism emotional rollercoaster
  • The secret addiction your body has that keeps you beating yourself up
  • Why it's not your fault if positive thinking and affirmations haven't worked for you in the past
  • The sixty-second end-of-day habit that could change your life forever, in the next week
  • How you can use this to take toxic teams back to thriving - and other hidden benefits!

Listen Here Now:

Resources From Today's Episode:  

  • Episode 45 - getting off the praise-criticism emotional rollercoaster
  • Get breakthrough-level support with the Imposter Syndrome Bootcamp
  • Get certified to support others in this work

Join in the discussion:

Remember - tag me @clarejosa on LinkedIn or Instagram and use the hashtag #microwins. And here's where we're talking about today's episode on LinkedIn and Instragram.

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Click here to read the transcript

Note: this is an AI-generated transcript, so please forgive typos.

Speaker 1 (00:00)
Hello, and welcome to Episode 46 of The Ditching Imposter Syndrome Podcast. Today, we are looking at something you can do to help yourself get off the praise criticism emotional roller coaster, listen to Episode 45, if that's new news to you, to stop you beating yourself up, deflecting praise. And it is one of my superpower techniques for working with clients to help them to deeply ditch imposter syndrome. So today's episode is for you, if you ever find yourself stuck on that praise criticism, emotional roller coaster, overthinking, worrying about what people are going to think when you send an email or submit a report or, heaven forbid, post on LinkedIn. If you find you're regularly beating yourself up, particularly that 3:00 AM self-talk of, What if they realise I'm not good enough? Maybe you're deflecting praise. Somebody gives you a compliment at work and you immediately respond with a but, perhaps even saying it out loud, volunteering self-criticism. Or maybe you've got a team member or a client who is behaving in this way. This episode is for you. Now, if the whole praise criticism roller coaster and the role of imposter syndrome in that is totally new news to you, pop back one episode and go and listen now to Episode 45 first because it gives you a really great overview.

Speaker 1 (01:19)
Then at the end of that episode, I promise to teach you my microwins process, which is what we're doing today. But it's going to make a lot more sense to you if you've already listened to that episode first. One of the things imposter syndrome does is it rewires the brain—and this bit is often missed—it rewires the body to notice our mistakes, to notice what we do wrong, to notice and have this massive, great big radar for risks and opportunities to be spotted as that proverbial fraud are not good enough. That's why The Secrets 3:00 AM self-talk has got that secret source of, What if they find me out and they realise I'm a fraud? It's far too easy to spot the mistakes you're making and far too hard to spot what you're doing well. And even if you can spot that, you're likely to write it off as fluke, luck, timing, team effort. You won't own your achievements. So when I'm working with people at deeper levels on clearing out imposter syndrome, when I'm training and certifying coaches and master coaches in this work, one of the key things we're doing is helping the clients to reconnect with their internal referencing system.

Speaker 1 (02:31)
So how they know that they're doing well. Because these days it's quite rare to get feedback. It's a really big complaint from people is, I didn't get enough feedback from my boss. But when we do get the feedback, over 70 % of people then go into a serious 'wobble', even if it's praise. We covered that in the last episode. What's going on here? There are filters in your brain called the reticular activating system. These tell your unconscious mind what information from the outside world to bring to your conscious attention. Actually, it's brilliant because, frankly, I do not need to know what the air pressure is in my left ear unless I'm sitting on a plane or at the top of a very big mountain or a half-after-infection, we would quickly become overwhelmed with the information that our unconscious brain is actually processing. The thing is, these filters get programmed by our habitual thoughts. So if our habitual thoughts is what if they find me out? If I step up and speak out with that idea in the meeting, they'll decide I'm stupid. And that whole chain of stuff that usually ends with us ending our days in a ditch, unloved.

Speaker 1 (03:40)
Yeah, big existential stuff. I'm not being flippant. It really is with imposter syndrome. It's often about survival and feeling safe. Those are pretty strong emotions to put into those filters to say, You've got to watch opportunities and let me know about opportunities that I might mess up or where I need to hold back or what I'm doing wrong because that's how I want to protect myself and stay safe. These habitual thought habits that come from what I call mind-story fears, the what-if-ing, the catastrophizing, have a direct impact on the body. Your body feels every thought you think, and it feels and fires off the same chronic stress fight-flight-freeze response with the adrenaline and the cortisol, whether something is physically happening in the outside world or just being imagined in your head. There's another layer to this. The body can get addicted to the adrenaline and the cortisol that comes with that mind-story fear, the mind-story drama. Particularly if somebody is on a fast track towards burnout, the cortisol and the adrenaline can be what they're using to actually be able to function. So even if you calm your mind, your body can sit there and say, I'm absolutely exhausted and I need a bit of an energy hit, so let's trigger some mind-story drama and fire off some cortisol.

Speaker 1 (04:58)
Some of the classic coping strategies for imposter syndrome make this worse too. The whole push on through the fear thing rather than clear the fear and do it anyway, pushing on through it makes that cortisol addiction even worse. It reinforces the neural pathways, it reinforces the filters in the brain. Similarly, people who are saying, I'm only successful because of imposter syndrome, and they're using it to drive their personal development by beating themselves up, are reinforcing that subconscious addiction. This is why things like positive thinking, affirmations, and mindset work don't actually cut it for imposter syndrome. This is what our five years now of ongoing research study has been showing. They just paper over the surface level cracks, and you actually need to do the deeper work to clear the body's addiction to the adrenaline and the fear, to rewire those neural pathways and the brain's filters, and to clear the deeper stuff, the triggers, the blocks, the fears, the limiting beliefs, the excuses, dare I say it, that have been driving imposter syndrome. When you do that, you don't need the mindset stuff that fixes itself. But instead, if you're working at the thoughts and mindset level, what you're trying to do is fix a really deep identity-level problem by only addressing the surface-level symptoms.

Speaker 1 (06:19)
You're looking at the effects instead of dealing with the causes. One of the techniques I teach that helps to rewire the brain, reprogram the neural pathways and rewire the body, and boost your confidence, and help you feel happier, and improve your performance and so many more things is microwins. And that is what we're going to cover right now. This is a technique I teach in great detail with many layers to it. In my imposter syndrome boot camp programme, in my stepping up to lead programme for people working one to one with me or my master coaches, and also in my certification programmes. But right here, right now, I want to teach you a simplified version of it that you can start using right away, even without that one-to-one coaching support. It's about celebrating the small stuff, because most of us wait until "the really big box" on the to-do list gets ticked off, that once every 3-6 months achievement, and in between, we're beating ourselves up. So instead, what you do at the end of the day, and this is so simple, and yet changes thousands of lives every single month, is you write down three things you did well.

Speaker 1 (07:38)
That's it. Well, not quite. You write down three things you did well. Now, this is not a gratitude exercise. This is not three things you're grateful for today. I mean, that can feel great. It can raise your vibration, improve your energy, help to shift negative thinking. But that is not this. The microwins technique that I've developed, you write down three things you did well each day. Now here's the thing. I want you to physically write them. Okay, using a hand, an implement, and something to write on. I don't care whether it's a super posh, fountain pen or a digital scribe or a pencil and a scrap of paper, though, believe me, by the end of a week of this, you're going to want a proper notebook for this, is write down three things you did well. The writing it down is really important. There is something that happens between the two hemispheres of the brain when we write with handwriting, particularly if you've ever learned and enjoyed to do joined-up handwriting. If that doesn't bring about school-day trauma for you, then writing it down actually makes things happen in your neurology. I'm not going to go into it now, just trust me.

Speaker 1 (08:46)
It helps to wire this in more quickly and more deeply. You write down three specific things you did well. There's another layer to this I'm going to give you in a moment. But first, I need to deal with the rotten tomatoes because the first time most of my clients do this, they really kick back. They can struggle to even find one thing they did well that day. Here's the little secret. That doesn't mean there was nothing they did well. What that means is they've so deeply programmed the filters in their brain to spot what they're doing badly that information about what they're doing well is no longer getting through. It's not even hitting their radar. That is exactly what this technique helps you to fix. Because when you can spot what you're doing well in balance with maybe what you need to improve or grow or learn in, then you're redeveloping that internal referencing system and it helps you to get off the praise criticism roller coaster. This is a key step on the journey for ditching imposter syndrome. So when you're writing these three things down, the first day it might be really hard.

Speaker 1 (09:51)
So just pick something really tiny. Maybe I did my microwins. Yeah, it doesn't matter. The whole point is it's got to be something that you can connect with and "go, Yeah", all right, I'm going to give myself that one. So as you're writing them down, there are three keys to this process to start to crank up its power. The first one is it needs to be specific. I don't think in pictures, but I can still get a sense of the concept of if I had a photo album in my head. You want what you're writing down for each of these three things to be so specific that you could leaf through that imaginary photo album and go, That scene, that action. So really specific, not woolly. What this does is it helps your unconscious mind to go, Yeah, that. And then your conscious mind goes, Yeah, that. Right. So specific, the next key is it's about your behaviour. As I said, this is not a gratitude exercise, at least not at this stage. That's one of the more advanced versions I teach on my courses and my certification programmes right here, right now, is you are simply acknowledging your specific behaviour that you did well.

Speaker 1 (11:09)
It's not what your team did, it's not what the postman did, it's not what I said on a podcast. It's something specific that you did well. And then the third key is when you've written them down, go back through your list and don't sink them, feel them. When you with this, this will very quickly start to make sense. Feel them, physically experience, praising yourself that little bit of a tiny pad on the back of, Hey, well done, Claire. Yep, you did that well. And then as you practise this, what I find is by the end of the first week, clients have gone from, I hate Claire and I hate this exercise and it's never going to work for me, to, Oh, my goodness, where can I buy myself a beautiful journal because I can now write down 20 things a day? And when you've got your list of at least three things, emotions. It's really important to read through them and feel they're happy. Whatever emotion comes up for you is, Yeah, okay, I did that. Don't let the thinking mind come in with, Oh, yeah, but, it's like, Okay, your butts can wait. This is 60 seconds of going through that list, feeling the positive emotions of, I did that well.

Speaker 1 (12:23)
The emotions are really important because they fast track rewiring the neural pathways in the brain and rewiring the body habits that supported those old thought patterns. You write down three things at the end of the day, make them specific about your behaviour, don't think them, feel them. As with any new habit, when you first play with this, it might feel a bit clunky, might feel a bit tough. By the end of week one, you'll be starting to feel it flowing. By the end of week four, you won't want to finish a day at work or make this... Either when you pack up your computer, hopefully at some point during the day, put your phone away, or at the end of the day, you won't want to finish a day without doing it because it's going to be a high point for you. And when you've done this for a week, two weeks, three weeks, moving on to week four, maybe, what's happening by then is you are rewiring your brain and retraining your conscious and unconscious mind to judge yourself less. One of the ways I define imposter syndrome, and it can be a definition that really unlocks people, for example, if I'm running a keynote for a corporation on this, is it's the secret fear of others judging us the way we judge ourselves.

Speaker 1 (13:34)
Now, there are many layers to the work that I and my certified coaches and master coaches can do with people to help them work through those layers and clear the triggers that meant we were judging ourselves and beating ourselves up. This is one of the techniques we always start with because it's so potent. It starts to balance out the inner judging. It starts to tone down that voice, and it helps us to to regain the ability to evaluate our performance at the skills and capabilities level on the imposter syndrome iceberg, rather than taking it down, being at the identity depth level about who we are. This is a really important tool there. Then some of the corporations I've worked with have absolutely embraced this technique, and they even use it in their team meetings. So in a weekly team meeting, for example, everybody starts with a micro win. They might have a Slack channel or a WhatsApp channel where people have the option of sharing their microwins at the end of each day. They might buddy up with somebody. They've made this part of their culture. And when they do, it shifts to focus. They don't turn into pretending Pollyanna, saying everything is fine.

Speaker 1 (14:44)
They still make sure they avoid problems and pitfalls and they deal with issues. But they're doing it from a much happier, more confident and grounded place. And they found it really helps with team building as well. We've worked with a team recently when negativity and pressure was really leading to burnout. By bringing in a variation of the microwins process that I've just described, they've actually really managed to turn around the culture and the atmosphere, and the team has gone from borderline toxic to actually shifting to feeling much more positive and thriving. There are many ways and many layers for this technique, but that is the foundation of the technique that you could start using today. I'm going to extend an invitation to you here, okay? You can find me on social media. I'm on Instagram, I'm on LinkedIn, and my tag is @claiosa, all one word. Share a micro win today. Make it specific about your behaviour. Feel it. Tag me, use the hashtag, micro win, and I will be there as your virtual cheerleader. Go and have fun with this. I will be back next week when we're going to be talking about why all organisations should have in-house experts in preventing imposter syndrome, toxic resilience, and burnout, and how that can have a hugely positive impact on people, productivity, performance, people reaching their potential, and ultimately, profits.

Speaker 1 (16:13)
I hope you have an amazing week.

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About the author

Clare Josa

Clare is considered a global authority in the fields of Imposter Syndrome, burnout and toxic resilience, and has been an international keynote speaker for over 20 years.

The author of 8 books, a reformed engineer and the former Head of Market Research for one of the world's most disruptive brands, she blends research-backed practical inspiration with demystified ancient wisdom, to help you create breakthroughs in ways that are fast, fun and forever.

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