For many of us who are high achieving and trying our best to excel in our professional lives, there's often something that comes up, that if unchecked, can serve as a blockage to our success.
Before I quit my full-time job to pursue entrepreneurship and other creative endeavors, I had a comfortable and stable full-time job working in marketing. However, I remember experiencing overwhelming feelings of inadequacy and doubt about my capabilities and the work that I was doing. On paper, I had all the credentials. I graduated from Princeton with honors, interned for four years at a top media company in New York City, and was building my own podcast brand Dreams In Drive. I was fully capable, but in person I found ways to put myself down and often felt like I didn't deserve my seat in the company organizational chart in comparison to my colleagues. I envied my mostly non-white co-workers who seemed to just show up and show out, even if their output was slightly mediocre.
It was until a few years in and after doing some research did I realize those "feelings" had a name and was something many high achieving women like myself often went through. "Impostor syndrome", a term coined by American psychologists Pauline Rose Clance, PhD, and Suzanne Imes PhD in 1978, is defined as "internal experience of intellectual phoniness" by people who believe they they are not intelligent, capable, and/or creative, despite evidence of high achievement. Those suffering from it often attribute their accomplishments to luck rather than to ability, and fear that others will eventually uncover them as a "fraud."
It's complicated, but something that is highly prevalent -- especially in my inner circle of Black female sisterhood. While many may try to discredit it, the American Psychology Association characterizes is as "specific form of intellectual self-doubt…. [that] is generally accompanied by anxiety and, often, depression."
I spoke with Christine Michel Carter - a writer and marketing strategist whose work focuses on careers, Black moms, millennials in the workplace, and diversity and inclusion - about this. She shared some tips for xoNecole readers learning to navigate through impostor syndrome.
Reclaim Your Space
Reclaiming your place and role in history is crucial. Personally, when I realized the POWER (instead of weakness) I had as one of few Black women working at my company, I started to walk into rooms with my head held up higher and more resolve to make sure I was heard and respected.
Understanding our history as Black women in the workplace is important to consider, says Christine.
"Historically, [millennial and Black women] haven't been given the same opportunities as their white male or white female counterparts. There's always that feeling in the back of their head that when they are granted opportunities, that they don't deserve those opportunities because women who looked like them historically hadn't been given those opportunities. It's difficult to realize that you might have a better education or experience present-day, but it doesn't do anything to [rewrite] our internal dialogue."
Understand The Way You Work
You also need to understand your personality type and the way you work, mentions Christine. As someone who suffers from anxiety and can become anxious if she doesn't feel prepared, Christine makes sure to ask for agendas prior to meetings so that she is "set up for success." How can you make sure to nip doubt by making sure you're prepared and make others knowledgeable of how you best operate and create good work?
According to Dr. Valerie Young, an impostor syndrome expert who identified five main subgroups of impostor syndrome sufferers, certain personality types need distinct corrective action. For example, the "superwoman" will push herself to work extremely hard in order to measure up. To combat this, it's necessary to steer away from external validation and "become more attuned to internal validation." This nurturing of inner confidence will help you "ease off the gas as you gauge how much work is reasonable."
Take Note Of Your Wins
Keeping a record of your accomplishments is another way to remind you of your value, explains Christine. "It's nice to go back and look back at the things you've done and say, 'Wow I really contributed. I'm really a valuable team member. I'm very much deserving of having a seat at the table.'"
Don't wait until yearly reviews to reflect on how much and how well you've executed. Conduct monthly "How did I do?" meetings with yourself, or your direct supervisor, where you review projects and analyze your growth and ability to meet expectations. Include metrics and feedback if you can. You may surprise yourself on how much of a bada** you are. This also holds you accountable and ensures you aren't playing small because you don't think you can achieve.
Stay In The Now
Christine also recommends that we practice staying in the present moment. "Focus on the task at hand. Sometimes you can't worry about what will happen or has happened." Be hyper-aware of how your thoughts may be leading you to other damaging thoughts or behavior that are not conducive for growth.
Seek Help From A Professional
Don't be afraid to get professional help. If you've tried several of these self-help tactics and still find it difficult to thrive, a licensed professional can give you tools and resources for overcoming impostor syndrome that are catered to your unique experience. If you need help finding a therapist in your area, I suggest browsing the Therapy For Back Girls Therapist Directory.
Whether you're climbing the career ladder or pursuing the entrepreneurial path, learning how to overcome impostor syndrome is pertinent. Honestly though, could you imagine a world where more Black women rose up and said, "Impostor syndrome, I rebuke thee?!" In my opinion, there's nothing more powerful as a Black woman than walking into a room and making your presence known. When we stand up for ourselves and share our stories, we're helping to impact larger conversations that face women of color such as the gender/race pay gap, maternal mortality and more.
Though it took me a while to realize how impostor syndrome was limiting my ability to live up to my potential, I was so proud of the day I built up the courage to speak up for myself and stop playing small. So much courage, I decided I was destined for a career and life much bigger than the one I was living. I resigned and decided to pursue a career and employer that was more in alignment with my purpose.
There's no permanent fix and there are days when I feel impostor syndrome creeping up, but now I know what to call it and how to dismiss it.
For more tips on learning how to deal with overcoming impostor syndrome, check out session 22 of Dr. Joy Harden Bradford's Therapy for Black Girls podcast here.
Featured image by Getty Images
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Rana Campbell is a Princeton University graduate, storyteller, content marketing strategist, and the founder and host of Dreams In Drive - a weekly podcast that teaches you how to take your dreams from PARK to DRIVE. She loves teaching others how to use their life stories to inspire action within oneself and others. Connect with her on Instagram @rainshineluv or @dreamsindrive.
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15 Hot Tips Giving The Missionary Position The Upgrade You Crave
Ah, yes, the missionary position. If there’s one sex position that pretty much everyone off top knows what it consists of, the missionary would have to be it. So, where does the name exactly come from? Oddly enough, even though it’s probably the most common sex position there is, there’s conflicting information about how its name actually came to be.
Some say that the Catholic church deemed it to be the only “non-sinful” position, and folks followed suit. Others believe that it’s tied into “patriarchy” since a man being on top puts a woman into a submissive receiving position (I mean, the Bible does tell wives to submit to their husbands, and sex is referenced for married couples, so that tracks — Ephesians 5, Colossians 3:18, I Peter 3:1-7, Genesis 2:24-25, I Corinthians 6:16-20). There are even stories about missionaries teaching people of African, Native American, and Chinese ethnicities that any other position is wrong and so those people came up with the term “missionary position” to make fun of the missionaries (chile).
Whatever the actual backstory is, what we know for sure is the missionary position continues to be super popular (although leave it to millennials to knock it out of first position and replace it with doggystyle these days), a great way to cultivate emotional intimacy (more on that in just a sec) — and it is oftentimes perceived as hella boring.
That last point is what I’m gonna address today. Because since it is indeed a great way to connect with your partner, it makes it easier to hit “your spot” (the G-spot, to be exact), and it’s also easy on your body (you know, if the desire is there but your limbs are not exactly cooperating), in my eyes, the missionary position needs to receive the proper respect that it deserves — and the best way to do that is to give it a few, perhaps much-needed, “upgrades.” Here are 15 of ‘em.
1. Do Some Eye Gazing Before Anything Else
Recently, I was talking to a male friend of mine who told me that he doesn’t do casual sex in the missionary position. After asking him how he is subtly able to even pull that off (another article, another time), I then wanted to know the method behind his madness: “It’s too intimate and vulnerable. I need to be in something serious with you to be that…into you.”
One might say that literally putting your member into a woman’s vagina is “into her,” yet I digress. Instead, I’ll just focus on the fact that when they say that eyes are the windows to the soul, there is definitely some truth to that. And when it comes to cultivating intimacy with your partner, there is a practice known as eye gazing that can help to connect the two of you in a very special way.
In fact, there are studies to support that you can analyze how someone feels about you by looking into their eyes, you can increase your level of attraction to them by looking into their eyes, and you and your partner can go up a new level in trust if you look into each other’s eyes as well.
How long should the eye gazing last? Some experts say that the goal should be for five minutes while taking deep breaths in between. While doing that might feel awkward at first, look at it this way — y’all are gonna be face to face for a while anyway, right? Why not take the exchange of energy to another level while you’re doing it? And why not get into this mind of headspace by eye gazing as a form of emotional foreplay?
2. Bring Some Jasmine, Ylang-Ylang or Lavender and Vanilla
One of the best things about the missionary position is it encourages you to shut out the rest of the world, ignore any distractions and really focus on your partner. Matter of fact, a sex therapist once told me that one of the perks of this particular position is it significantly decreases your chances of you and/or your partner fantasizing about other people during coitus (hey, it happens…way more than people care to admit too).
Something that can help to keep you and your partner centered on one another only is the scent of jasmine, ylang-ylang, and a combo of lavender and vanilla. As a bonus, all are also sensual, calming, and relaxing too. You can add a few drops to a carrier oil (like sweet almond or grapeseed) and create a DIY massage oil. You can sprinkle some of them onto your bedding. You can also add a few drops into your sexual pressure points for a nice surprise as far as your partner’s sense of smell goes.
3. Pull in (More) Pillows
For some reason, I can’t find it now (sorry!), but a few weeks ago, I was cracking up at a video of a guy who was challenging his girlfriend to get into the position of being on top like a man and pushing for more than a minute straight. She failed miserably (it really was hilarious!). After I sent it to a few male friends, one wrote back and said, “Y’all have no idea what being on top can do to a brotha’s back sometimes.”
A workaround that will make everyone happy? Bring in some more pillows. It will elevate your body so that he won’t have to bend over quite so low. Plus, it will help him to penetrate you more deeply, which is almost always a good thing.
You can use the pillows that you already have (they should work just fine). Or you can invest in a sex pillow. They tend to be a bit firmer so that you don’t have to be slippin’ and slidin’ all over the place. Glamour did you a solid by providing a list of some of their favorite sex pillows here; Self did the same by providing their best-of-the-best list here.
4. Light Some Candles
Back to the eye thing real quick. Yeah, I don’t know how y’all are gonna be able to stare deeply into each other’s eyes if it’s pitch black in the room. And here’s the thing about letting some light shine in; there was a study conducted that said when a light box (like the kind that’s used to treat depression) is brought into a man’s space, it can increase his levels of sexual desire. The reason why is it has a way of boosting his testosterone levels.
However, if you don’t want to feel like you’re standing — well, lying — in a room that has the ridiculous lighting that is in department store dressing rooms, go with candlelight instead. A soft glow can still help him to see your shapes and curves and the two of you to look at each other yet because everything with candles is way more subtle, it can help you to feel less self-conscious if you’re not as confident in the sex department as you would like to be (check out “10 Sensuous Ways To Boost Your Sexual Self-Esteem”).
5. Add Some Flavored Lube
Although pretty much all of us have heard the saying, “The wetter, the better,” at this point, this tip is a shout-out to the safe sex crowd (since reportedly, only one-third of men and one-quarter of women actually use condoms. SMDH). If you want to make bringing rubbers into a mix a much more pleasurable experience, go with some flavored lubricant. Although you might only think of its use in the context of oral sex (more on that in a bit), dabbing some on your neck (so that he can taste something sweet-er when he kisses you there) or on your wrists or forearm (so that he can lick them while your hands are pinned back) can be a truly welcome surprise.
And what are some of the best-tasting ones on the market these days? No worries. I got you:
6. Modify the Position…a Bit
As we continue, I will be — no pun intended — deep diving into some tweaks that can be made to the standard missionary position in order to intensify sexual pleasure. For now, I’ll just say that spooning face to face, allowing your partner to pin your legs back, having sex while standing up, letting him ride cowboy (which means he’s literally in the position that you are typically in during the cowgirl) and your partner lying horizontally over your body instead of vertically — these all are twists to the missionary that could cause you to hear “missionary position” with new levels of excitement.
7. Apply the Coital Alignment Technique (CAT)
Speaking of modifying positions, what do y’all know about the Coital Alignment Technique (CAT)? If you’re staring at your screen like, “What in the world is that?” it’s when your partner gets into the downward-facing dog yoga position while you’re on your back in the missionary one. This causes your partner’s penis to stimulate your clitoris as they are entering you and sometimes as they are going in and out. The (main) benefit is if you’re someone who finds experiencing a vaginal orgasm challenging, you significantly increase your chances of experiencing one since your clitoris will be stimulated during the act of intercourse.
Another bonus is “doing the CAT” can help a man to last longer if premature ejaculation is something that he is prone to experiencing.
8. Get Out of the Bed/Bedroom
The older we get, the more bedroom sex makes sense. After all, beds were specifically designed to support our bodies. Still, if you’ve been in a long-term relationship for quite some time, just like approaching the missionary position the same way every time can get old, so can always being in your bed — or bedroom.
You’re paying good money to utilize more than just one room in your home, so why not maximize each one’s potential? And as far as the best room in the house to get busy, I recently read an article that said bathrooms and balconies are fan favorites, followed by closets and utility rooms. Personally, I’m with what a Men’s Health article stated, which is the living room is probably the most comfortable (and common) — yet whatever you do, just try and think outside of the box sometimes. In this case, think outside of your bed and bedroom to see what other places are comfortable for you both.
9. Or…Get on the Edge of the Bed
So, what if you're like, "I hear you, but it's gonna be the bed for me, more times than not?" I hear you. There's a way to upgrade the missionary position and how you use your bed at the same time — have him pull you to the edge of the bed and either penetrate you by lifting your legs over his shoulders, or the two of you can just have "regular sex" that way (so long as he's good at maintaining his balance and keeping you from falling off at the same time).
The perks? For one, if his penis is more on the average side (check out "Sex Hacks For Different Kinds Of Penises (You Heard Me Right)"), he will be able to penetrate you more deeply. Another benefit is if you like to bring vibrators into the mix, it will be easier to do (especially if your legs are up). Another is this is one way to get your clitoris, vagina, and cervix all stimulated all at the same time — in fact, this is why another name for the edge of the bed is "the edge of heaven" (makes sense).
10. Keep Your Bra on — Kinda
As a doula, whenever new moms talk to me about easing back into sex, it's very common for them to talk about how "conflicted" they are when it comes to their breasts, especially if they are breastfeeding. It makes complete and total sense when you think about the fact that first, our breasts are ours alone, then men come in and use them as foreplay, and then here comes a baby who uses them as a food source. A top suggestion that I give is that moms invest in some super sexy nursing bras. That way, if they want to still keep their breasts covered up, there is something pretty for their partner to look at.
Along these same lines (kinda sorta), consider keeping your own bra on during missionary — well, kind of. Either get one that is extremely sheer or pull your breasts out so that they are hanging out over the front of your bra. Why? Well, a lot of men have told me over the years that while nothing really tops a woman in her birthday suit, the peek-a-boo effect of breasts over bras and crotchless panties turns them on in a way that they can't fully articulate. Plus, if you're a bit insecure, this can help you out like it can a new mom (believe it or not), especially if you're going to bring some lighting in (like I suggested earlier).
11. Enjoy His Nipples
Speaking of breasts…although not everyone finds their nipples to be the ultimate erogenous zone (check out “So, What If ‘Typical Erogenous Zones’ Annoy TF Outta You?”), don’t automatically assume that your partner is one of them. The reality is men have the same glands and nerve endings that we do when it comes to their nipples which means a lot of them find their nipples getting some TLC to be super erotic and enjoyable.
A husband client of mine once told me in a session that he wished that his wife would lick on his nipples more, especially during intercourse, because it takes his orgasms to a completely different level. When his wife heard that, she asked, since she’s not a contortionist, how could she possibly pull that off in a comfortable way? This actually brings us to the next point.
12. Try Some Kama Sutra Piercing
On the heels of what I just said, what do you know about the Kama Sutra approach known as piercing? It’s kind of similar to CAT, only with a twist. This time, a man should position his shoulders to where they are directly over your head — that way, as he is moving in and out, you can get direct clitoral stimulation.
How is this any different from the CAT? Well, with that position, his arch is backed farther away from you. Plus, it tends to feel the most amazing upon entry only. On the other hand, piercing makes it possible for you to do the whole nipple thing that we just talked about while he’s able to stimulate your clitoris more intentionally the entire time. A win/win for everyone, wouldn’t you say?
13. Engage in (Some or More) Edging
Another way to almost guarantee that your orgasms will be next level is to engage in a bit of edging. If you're familiar with the word, yet you've never exactly researched and/or tried it before — let's just say that it's the kind of act that requires some stamina (on his part) and some self-discipline (for you both). The reason why I say that is because edging is all about having intercourse, your partner stopping for 15-30 seconds, and then you both starting back up all over again.
And why would someone want to send themselves through this mind of, in a way, mind f-ck? It builds anticipation and excitement, which can actually make your orgasms super intense. Hell, it could even lead to multiple orgasms if y'all play your cards right. Anyway, you can learn more about edging by reading "All About Edging: The Ways Prolonging Pleasure Makes For Mind-Blowing Orgasms" on our platform.
14. Stop. And Switch.
As I was in the process of penning this piece, I asked a few people to share why they felt that some people take a ho-hum attitude about the missionary position. The general consensus was if that’s all you do the entire time, things can get old really quick.
Good point. That’s why it’s also a good idea to keep in mind that, just because you start off in missionary, no rule says that you have to stay there (unless you happen to live in Florida because, apparently, only the missionary is legal there; Florida stays wilin’ out). No rule says that once you start having sex that you can’t do some other, eh hem, activities in between positions too.
My vote? Be down to get into some oral, especially if you want to increase your chances of having an orgasm. A “good giver” is gonna get off so much on pleasuring you that you probably won’t have to worry about him needing to maintain an erection even if he spends a few moments downtown (cue SWV’s song). Oral sex intermissions are so unsung. Whew, chile.
15. Moan ‘N Whisper
The last and final point. "Dirty talk" is always gonna be a winner when it comes to sex, period; however, when you're in the missionary position, it's really amazin' considering you're both right next to each other's ears.
And what if dirty talk isn't something that you've exactly mastered (yet)? The key is to not overthink it. Moan. Whisper the things that you like being done to you (or that you want him to try). Ask him what he likes (or wants more of). When he's got it right, praise him. If he's got a pet name, use it. If you want to go with his government name, he probably won't mind that either.
The main point here is to remember that great sex incorporates all of the senses — touch, taste, sight, smell, and hearing. And since words are our most effective form of communication, you can't go wrong with using some in the bedroom…especially when you're giving it all that you've got in the missionary position…especially as you're adding in some of these upgrades that I just shared.
Enjoy, sis. EN-freakin’-JOY!
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