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  • Writer's pictureTrisha Lord

I can’t claim to have cornered the market on that ubiquitous psychological phenomenon called The Imposter Syndrome


It isn’t the first time, and it almost certainly won’t be the last, that I sit down to write my monthly newsletter burdened with a feeling of insufficiency.  There is a not knowing that frequently accompanies this task.  It sounds something like this: will I be able to express what I want to say?  Am I qualified, intelligent enough, informed enough to speak about this topic? 


 I’ve listened to enough people thinking about their lives during my lifetime to know that I can’t claim to have cornered the market on that ubiquitous psychological phenomenon called The Imposter Syndrome.  I know it well enough to have developed the chutzpah to stare it down and go for it anyway.  It helps to say all of that at the start!  Part of the staring it down, I guess.




This question has been surfacing and re-surfacing for some time now.  I must preface it by admitting that I have had something of a suspicious relationship to the concept of intuition.  I like the idea of it – that of an internal teacher with a personalized syllabus just for me, designed to assist me with finely attuned wisdom purposefully fit for my unique dilemmas and situations.


 My question, though, is can we know the difference between what we (so often it seems to me) blithely refer to as our intuition, and that of the normal every day thinking we do?  This latter is – let’s face it – much like an always-on radio station, already playing inside our heads into which we emerge from the often twisted, bizarre world of our dreams.  What makes something intuition, as opposed to an interpretation driven by past-based assumptions generated in response to earlier-in-our-life-experiences towards which we came up with a response most likely designed to assess the situation in such a way as to help us survive it and come through more or less intact, if a little battered and bruised?


My question again: how can we know?  Can we be sure?  My thinking on this is further complicated by an ever-increasing awareness of how little I know.  The older I get the clearer I become that what I know, (by which I mean know for sure) is shrinking.


I’m piling on the potential obstacles here: then there’s denial.  Denial is an extraordinary thing.  It is a tailor-made solution to anxiety.  The more anxious something makes me, the more able I am – without conscious effort – to simply block it out.  To behave like that anxiety provoking ‘thing’ just doesn’t exist.  And what works brilliantly about denial is that if I’m really in it, I don’t know that I am.  It's watertight.  Phenomenal! 


 If, by intuition, we mean a capacity to sense and receive information pertaining to our lives and the situations we face therein, in the form of a thought process which is preceded by a physical sensation in the body, then can intuition penetrate denial’s iron clad walls of protection?  How?


 This is where I’ve come to so far: perhaps there is a distinction between mere thinking (the radio station), and embodied knowing, that which we refer to as intuition. 

Part of the journey to accessing intuition seems to me to involve a process of dismantling denial, which involves confronting both the fear I may have of the unknown, but also of the known.  I need to be willing to face what I already know but have not been allowing myself to admit.


 Feelings and sensations in the body are key signifiers.  Access to this finely tuned signposting system can be complex and difficult to recover, because as children we are frequently forbidden our feelings.  Anger – that powerful and, I believe, deeply accurate boundary setting emotion is often quashed in us when we are young, sometimes brutally so.


If we were not allowed anger, especially in response to an adult’s unacceptable behaviour towards us, we learn at a tender stage of our psychological development to second-guess ourselves. 


 This is very damaging when it comes to being able to access our intuitive motherboard as adults.  Just as it is signposting you to cross over into what might be calling to your awareness, the habitual tendency to start to question and analyse, self-judge and mistrust kicks in.  Add to that the commonplace likelihood of self-medicating measures that assist in assuaging intuition’s attempt to wake us up – anything (nicotine, alcohol, drugs, comfort eating, excessive exercise, workaholism) that helps to disconnect us from the discomfort of the body’s signaling that something needs paying attention to, and it’s little wonder, I now realise, why this subject of intuition has been so murky for me.


 If you give all that up, and decide to open the doors to intuitive perception, you might start to let yourself receive information you’ve been walking over or away from, sometimes for years.  There follows a period of revision.  It can be extremely challenging to let yourself become conscious of what you have been putting yourself through, whilst pretending like nothing’s been going on, in relation to yourself, to others, to life.



It seems to me that this is where the capacity of responsibility and ownership must kick in.  It becomes necessary to develop the compassionate acceptance of why you could not let yourself see what was staring you in the face.  Maintaining a healthy openness that you might be wrong, whilst at the same time allowing yourself to know where you are right, even if you don’t exactly know why, are all part of the complex and messy universe of intuition.  You can think someone doesn’t like you and be wrong about that, and sometimes you can be right. 


It seems to me that there is a relationship between denial, intuition and having the courage to let yourself know what you need to face that are all part of this journey.  So once again it is courage I return to, its invitation to listen, to allow myself to hear my Self, and then to take that step into either the unknown, or the known I’ve always known but have been turning away from.  Mary Oliver’s penetrating poem with which I started this month’s newsletter, and which has so often provided me resolve in deeply dark and difficult times speaks to this better than I may ever be able to…


But little by little,

as you left their voices behind,

the stars began to burn

through the sheets of clouds,

and there was a new voice

which you slowly

recognized as your own,

that kept you company

as you strode deeper and deeper

into the world,

determined to do

the only thing you could do—

determined to save

the only life you could save.


~ Mary Oliver ~





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