Q: Dear Raven, my boss is putting unnecessary pressure on me because she is trying to impress her boss for a promotion. I am meeting all my goals and then some. She doesn't understand boundaries and frankly is making my anxiety act up. While I figure out how to give her feedback, what are some things I can do in the meantime to not let her mess with my energy and set me back in my personal mental health journey?

There are places where boundaries are more set than others. In a corporate environment boundaries tend to be more defined and adhered to. For example Verizon doesn't expect you to stay past 5pm. Start ups or small business' are a different stories, those  work environments expect you to be there 100 hrs a week and give it your all. Work life balance is something they talk about (its probably even be in your "core values")  but it might be something they cant actually deliver on.  Its important you ask yourself if this is an isolated incident, or part of  a company wide culture. 

Explore the concept of "managing up" Managing up is the process of learning  how to work with, and manage your boss.  There are plenty of articles that can help you deal with whatever kind of boss you have. Chances are giving her feedback is the exact thing that will allow her messiness to not affect you personally or professionally.  While you explore ways of " managing up" double down on spending time with friends and family, whoever your positive support system is you need them right now. Being around people who anchor and uplift you can give you the strength you need to take care of yourself. Good Luck!

Q: Dear Raven, if certain mental illnesses run in my family — like having bi polar disorder or schizophrenia, how can I be on the lookout for myself? I want to be prepared not just for myself but for my mom and siblings.

Some mental illnesses are in heritable, including the ones you mentioned, depending on your own immediate genetic connection. The best way to be be mindful is to arm yourself with as much information as possible and to understand the risks in your genetic tree and your environment.  I suggest the following to start:

-Familiarize yourself with the symptoms of the mental illness, onset, and ongoing signs. Did you know most women who are schizophrenic don't become symptomatic until the age of 25? 

-Avoid drugs and alcohol as they have both been associated as triggers for psychotic breaks, and/or increase triggers. Self-medication is a real thing, however its often ineffective and often makes things worse. Several of my therapy clients reported their first break after smoking weed.

-Talk to a psychiatrist if you have any concerns that you are exhibiting symptoms.

-Preventive therapy is totally an option: Leaning healthy coping mechanisms, stress reducers, living a healthy lifestyle can all help. While this isn't an insurance policy against developing a mental illness it will help you greatly if you have these tools in your mental toolbox. 

Q: Dear Raven, I am dealing with some serious impostor syndrome with all the blessings that have been coming my way. Any advice on how to get over this mental mind fuck?

Firstly, congrats on your blessings. I'm positive they aren't coming to you because of some freak cosmic accident. In fact, I'm pretty sure every bit of goodness coming your way was hard won and well earned. Imposter syndrome, no matter the origin, tells us that we don't deserve and that we don't belong. 

In 1978 Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes conducted a study. They interviewed 150 extremely successful professional women in various fields and found that  despite their immense achievements, accolades and success they felt like a fraud. Somehow undeserving of their rank. Imposter syndrome is very real and affects everyone. There may be a myriad of reasons you feel like an imposter. Gender, ethnicity, race, education, familial origin, culture, societal structure, religion, field of study/profession, age etc. all have a role to play in what makes you feel like you don't deserve the gifts  you are receiving. Remember that for marginalized and BIPOC folks who work in predominantly white environments they don't just feel like imposters they are often made to feel like they are imposters.  All of these factors create your special imposter syndrome cocktail. 

The good news is that regardless of the reason for why you feel like you are an imposter there  are some basic approaches to tackling imposter syndrome that you might want to try

1.  Write a gratitude list every day. Feeling like we don't deserve the success we are experiencing blocks us from feeling gratitude. Gratitude is an essential component of overall mental and physical well being.  Synonyms for gratitude are appreciation and acknowledgement. If you aren't mindful about gratitude you might have a harder time appreciating and acknowledging your blessings. 

2. Be of Service: Self Doubt is a Self-centered business. Consider mentoring, volunteering, and other forms of service.  Giving it away is the best way to keep it, so find ways of taking the focus off of your own self doubt by giving to others who could use some of your time. 

3. Sometimes Imposter Syndrome is actually  masking Survivor's Guilt. Feeling like we don't deserve what we have sometimes happens  because we are all too aware that not everyone has the same opportunities, chances, talent , or even intellect as you. 

4. Externalize the fear and expose it to light. Write it all down. Write down all of the feelings, all of the doubts, all of the thoughts, all of the things that you fear people will think about you or all of the things you are afraid people will find out about you. Your most ridiculous beliefs about yourself, the most taboo things you feel or think. Get it out on paper and then if you are so inclined, burn, trash, delete, and flush it. You can also share your feelings with a mentor or those you feel safe around. Choose wisely, and choose wise. Pick someone who's opinion you respect and matters to you. Don't choose anyone who historically hasn't been able to uplift and  support you. 

5. Become mindful of negative self talk. This is the hardest According to Psychology Today, “Your self-talk combines your conscious thoughts with your unconscious beliefs and biases.” Yikes!  Choose a time, once a day for 5 minutes to focus on positive self talk. Affirmations, meditation, guided audio, writing, anything that focuses on positive self talk will be key. 

I hope this gets you started on your path to living your successful truth.

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Raven Burgos

is theGIRLMOB’s resident Therapist, you can find her at hellojoytheraphy