Annie Wright’s Tips for Using Neuroplasticity to Overcome Impostor Syndrome
If you’ve never heard the term “neuroplasticity” before, this episode of the WP Elevation podcast will change that.
Psychotherapist and coach Annie Wright joins Troy to explain how negative self-talk and beliefs can affect every aspect of our lives, including our businesses. She breaks down the concept of neuroplasticity and how it can be used to condition ourselves to have a more positive mindset and overcome impostor syndrome in the process.
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Who Is Annie Wright? (2:30)
Annie Wright is a licensed psychotherapist working in the San Francisco Bay Area. She also founded and runs a boutique therapy centre in Berkeley.
Her area of expertise is complex relational trauma. More specifically, she treats patients who are high-functioning in their lives (i.e. look good on paper), but have a background of abuse, neglect, abandonment, or other trauma that impairs them in some way.
What Is Neuroplasticity? (7:00)
So, why is it that there’s a psychotherapist on the WP Elevation podcast? Well, Troy ran into a piece Annie had written on the subject of neuroplasticity. And if you attended the recent mastermind event in Australia or caught the presentation here, then you know that Troy believes it should be an important part of the business growth process.
As far as what neuroplasticity is, here’s how Annie explains it:
“Neuroplasticity is the ability to create new neural grooves in our brain around habits, thoughts, and the words we speak — which means the brain can change. And there’s a lot of opportunity to change our brains.”
Think of it like grooves on a record.
You keep playing the same song over and over again, making the grooves really deep in that one spot. It’s similar to how the more we feed into certain thoughts and commit to the same behaviours, the deeper those neural grooves become in our brains.
According to neuroplasticity, though, you can pick up that “needle” and move it elsewhere to create new, deep grooves.
How to Use Neuroplasticity to Transform Your Thoughts and Beliefs (12:00)
What does moving the needle in your brain look like? According to Annie, there are three things you must do:
1. Become aware of what you think and say.
Many times, our thoughts and behaviours are automatic, and we don’t even pay attention to them. So, the first thing to do is stop zoning out.
Get in touch with that voice in your head.
2. Become aware of how those messages impact you.
The second you become aware of a thought or behaviour that doesn’t serve you, hit the “Pause” button.
Unconstructive feedback, negative self-talk, impractical viewpoints — all of these behaviours have a negative impact on you (and your business) and you have to be able to recognise them as such.
3. Transform those messages by being more kind to yourself.
This is the point where you will move the needle to another groove.
“This is as close to Jedi mind tricks as we get.”
When a negative thought or action is about to rear itself, substitute it with a kinder or more supportive thought. Do this over and over again until this positive action becomes the automatic response.
How Neuroplasticity Can Help Business Owners with Impostor Syndrome (19:00)
When we look at how neuroplasticity works, it’s natural to wonder if it can help us be more effective in business. According to Annie, it can be used to fight off feelings of impostor syndrome.
Let’s say you’re having a hard time closing the deal with prospects and you’re sure it has to do with your lack of confidence. You fail to follow up, downplay your skills, allow nerves to compromise your ability to deliver the pitch… Limiting behaviours that hold you back can be fixed with this approach.
Specifically, this is what Annie recommends:
- Identify areas where you’ve succeeded in the past with clients.
- Focus on that hard data the next time you feel any twinge of impostor syndrome.
- Remind yourself that you can do this.
One other thing Annie suggests is talking out loud and in the third person when working on establishing kinder thoughts and reaffirming your positive actions. This is something that researcher Ethan Kross of the University of Michigan confirmed with his report on Self-Talk as a Regulatory Mechanism: How You Do It Matters.
While you won’t be able to bust those old habits overnight, enough practice will eventually get you there.
“Of course you’re going to be anxious. You’re growing new muscles. You’re meant to be a little uncomfortable right now.” — @annie_wright shares how neuroplasticity can help biz owners overcome impostor syndrome
Final Tips for Using Self-Talk to Overcome Impostor Syndrome
As far as transforming those feelings of impostor syndrome you’ve become so accustomed to, Annie provides some insights on how she tackles them in her own life:
- She reminds herself that she’s never done this before and it’s okay to be anxious.
- She reviews her track record of accomplishments to date.
- She vocally encourages herself to keep going.
- She seeks out help and support from others: coaches, therapists, parents, etc.
When things get hard in your business and your life, you can’t afford to let negative self-talk seep its way in. Because they’re not just words. How you speak affects what you believe and that ultimately shapes what actions you take. Sometimes, with enough negative self-talk, you can even stop yourself from taking any action at all.
- Learn more about Annie Wright’s therapy centre, peruse her psychoeducational products, and subscribe to her blog.
- Read Annie’s article on Neuroplasticity and the Critical Practice of Speaking More Kindly to Yourself.
- Read the research from Ethan Kross and the University of Michigan on Self-Talk as a Regulatory Mechanism.