What Michelle taught me during the pandemic

I finally had a moment to watch the Netflix documentary, “Becoming,” based upon the memoir of my #ForeverFirstLady Michelle Obama. This documentary is an excellent companion piece to the memoir.

I want to focus on a moment in the documentary that really resonated with me. Michelle Obama discusses overcoming imposter syndrome with a group of students from Spelman and Morehouse colleges studying her memoir. Imposter syndrome is the negative voice in your head that makes you doubt yourself, and you begin to believe that you’re a fraud. You believe that you’re not good enough or smart enough at what you do or want to do. This mindset impairs your professional performance, satisfaction and contributes to burnout.

During the book discussion, the former First Lady explains that these feelings of incompetence can come from what we’ve seen, what we’ve heard and what we’ve told ourselves throughout life.

“If you’re in a place where you’re more inclined to believe a person that underestimates you, you have to look back on your story to figure out why…It’s not about something that’s happened to you today. It’s probably a part of what you’ve heard and seen consistently throughout your life. And that’s your story that you have to own and have to understand…You’ve got to be able to go over the moments in your life that brought you to a moment of joy and happiness, or broke you down, and be able to understand how has that made you who you are today, and what are you going to do to recalibrate.”


What is holding you back from telling your story?

What keeps you from showing up authentically?

We all need to reflect, investigate and eliminate the voices that make us doubt our self-worth and greatness– individually and collectively. We have to accept ourselves for exactly who we are– flaws and all. It’s time to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. We fail to realize that when we are authentic about who we are, our story is most impactful to others. It is our stories that connect us to each other.

“I’ve been at every power table there is—I’ve been on the world stage… I’ve met national security advisers, generals, former First Ladies, former Presidents, all amazing, talented people. But no better, no smarter, no more worthy, no more capable, no more deserving than me…I’ve been to the mountaintop, and I’ve come back down to tell you all, you’re deserving and worthy—I’ve seen it.”


So what can help you overcome imposter syndrome?

If you want to change a bad habit, you have to replace it with a good one. When confronting my fears and doubts, I replace those negative thoughts and feelings with positive thoughts and healthy behaviors. By practicing habits that ground me, I am able to accomplish what needs to be done, minimizing overwhelm, doubt and anxiety. Here are some healthy habits I established during the pandemic:

  1. Daily prayer and meditation– Prayer and meditation are priorities for me. It keeps me tuned-in, clear, focused and rooted in my purpose and next steps.
  2. Learning the power of “No”– Learning to set boundaries by saying “no” helps with staying focused. Time is a precious commodity, so I align my actions and energy with like-minded people and projects.
  3. Feeding my mind and spirit with knowledge and positivity– I live by the adage “garbage in, garbage out.” I write and recite affirmations, listen to motivational speeches and inspirational music, and dance to keep a positive mental attitude.
  4. Don’t take it personal- Taking things personally is emotionally draining. When you know your worth and stop worrying about what others think, you learn from the experience instead of feeling slighted.
  5. Getting enough sleep each night– I’ve realized that I can’t stay up after midnight with out paying for it the next day. I function most effectively with at least 9 to 10 hours of sleep.
  6. Eating regularly and drinking enough water– You need fuel in your tank to have clear thinking and energy. You can add vitamins to this mix as well.
  7. Writing/ journaling consistently– It’s important to write down your vision, thoughts, goals, and ideas so we can remember, but they also serve reminders of the direction we need to be going.
  8. Connecting with supportive family and friends– We all need a support system. People who understand you and are rooting for you, and vice versa. They’ve usually seen you at your best and your worst, but they’.re still you’re biggest fans.
  9. Moving your body– There are great benefits– reduces stress, focuses the mind, induces productivity, and enhances memory.

As Mrs. Obama said this is an internal psychological process, which means it takes time and it’s never-ending. Along the journey, extend grace, patience and gentleness to yourself and others.

What did you learn about yourself during the pandemic?

What story do you want to share with the world?