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How to Overcome Insecurity for Substance Use Disorder Professionals

Person sitting at the edge of a peer surrounded by water and mountains | Hero image for Overcoming Insecurity for SUD professionals

When you think you have conquered insecurity, it rears its ugly head again.

COVID has undermined our confidence in so many ways. I have traveled alone to Puerto Vallarta, with a layover in Mexico City, and did not speak the language. I have flown alone more than once. I know how to use public transportation.

However, I have not done any of these things in some time, and my upcoming trip to Chicago had me feeling anxious and insecure.

Additionally, COVID has taken its toll on my social skills. For two-plus years, I trained online, stayed away from people, and became a homebody. This year, in-person training is just starting to open up. I always thought of myself as a people person, and I did not realize how much I missed training in-person until I started again.

Despite my excitement, I had fear and anxiety surface when I was getting ready to attend the MINT training in Chicago.

To make matters worse, my car needed significant work just before leaving. That changed everything. I planned to travel to Rochester, NY, and leave my car there. The ticket price was much better than in Syracuse, and the parking was the same. My car breaking down pushed me to do things I had not expected.

I had a choice to be flexible, push through, or give up and not go.

I have to admit; there was a moment when I thought I might be unable to work everything out. I recognized that COVID had put me in fear mode, which showed up in my problem-solving.

There are two levels of fear that we have experienced over the last three years.

  • The first is our fear of contracting this virus, infecting our loved ones, or even not surviving. I had a friend lose her life to COVID just a week ago.
  • The second is the collective fear that has gripped all of us. After the vaccines, people still did not want to return to work. Home felt safer, and many realized how much stress they were carrying in the workplace. Humans are adapters, and I think we have adapted to isolation. Bouncing back to a more social way of being has brought on a lot of fear.

Pushing through the fear is about not knowing what to expect and pushing through anyway.

I learned to use Uber and booked the train even though the last train brought me to the Rochester train station ten minutes before it closed for the night. The Uber driver showed up one minute before closing! Despite my worrying, everything worked out. In truth, I realize now I am resourceful enough to continue to problem solve even if it had not.

When I arrived at the airport in the morning, I was the first person through security. No lines. I got into Chicago early, and the hotel changed my room assignment and got me into a room immediately. All I had to do was ask.

The greatest gift is that I remember how to travel again, and I see other trips in my future. I also learned to reach out to others and ask for assistance.

My daughter shared her experiences with Uber, as did others. When you live in the country, you drive everywhere. I knew that getting an Uber at midnight on a Saturday was a risk, and there weren’t any available when I arrived. A few minutes later, there was a cancellation, and a lovely woman showed up and took me to the airport. Listening to other people’s experiences and knowing I could ask them for help was comforting.

I am a person who always thinks about the worst-case scenario. If I can survive that, I will usually go forward.

The Collective Battle with Imposter Syndrome

To be chosen for the MINT training is a great honor, and I have met incredible people from all over the world.

You know what? Humanity showed up here too. We talked about imposter syndrome today, and almost every person I spoke to this week acknowledged experiencing it. There are psychiatrists, social workers, criminal justice professionals, educators, and many others. They have come from Japan, Sweden, Vancouver, Saskatchewan, and all over the United States.

You would never expect that they would be experiencing imposter syndrome. All of them have experience in Motivational Interviewing training.

Some of the things I heard were, “I don’t know why they chose me. I can’t make a mistake, or they will know I am not very good at this.” We all did recordings that were reviewed and coded for Motivational Interviewing integrity. They wondered how they were selected based on the feedback they received.

This group was selected not only because of their experience in training MI but, more importantly, their willingness to learn to become better trainers. They were teachable. What amazed me was that everyone pushed through their fear and imposter syndrome and arrived ready to learn.

When we push through our obstacles, we build resiliency.

I discovered that just because you had confidence at some point in your life, you can lose it over time.

We must continue to build our resiliency, strengthen our resolve to not live in fear, and build a supportive community.

The people in our close circle can support us, help us problem-solve, pick us up when we are down, and offer help when needed.

The biggest obstacle is that we have to let them in and be willing to be vulnerable enough to ask for help.

Had I not pushed through, I would not have had this incredible experience that has improved my skills as a trainer and inducted me into the MI family of like-minded individuals worldwide. I am honored to join this community of people who embrace the Spirit of MI, Partnership, Acceptance, Compassion, and Empowerment.

You know what? They are all just like me, and so are you.

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