Do you ever feel you need to be 100% perfect 100% of the time? Or that you haven’t earned your accomplishments? That it was all just luck or a mistake?
Or that you feel well out of your depth or like a fraud and are just guessing or bullshitting your way through a situation, and terrified that someone’s going to catch you out?
Yes! Welcome imposter syndrome! Also known as imposter phenomenon or impostorism, fraud syndrome or the impostor experience.
“The “Impostor Phenomenon” was first described by Dr Pauline Clance, from her observations in a clinical setting (Clance, 1985).
Individuals with the Impostor Phenomenon experience intense feelings that their achievements are undeserved and worry that they are likely to be exposed as a fraud.”
According to the “Journal of Behavioural Science” it was estimated that 70 percent (or more) of the general population has experienced the impostor phenomenon at some point, and it’s a concept that seems to resonate with many. It has has been shown to affect both men and women.
The imposter syndrome struggle, according to Phil McKinney, it seems, does not care about career title, socio-economic identity or history. It is universal.
Symptoms of imposter syndrome include anxiety, stress or depression; shame and low self-confidence
So now we know a little about this, what do we do about it? How do we deal with it, move through it and get past it?
Below are a couple of things that I took from a selection of talks and articles that I found super helpful to deal with it. I would not say I have combated imposter syndrome, but with every day in every way I’m working on it.
This is not all inclusive, as there are a thousand articles out there that might resonate with you too.
My takeaways are:
The first step is to hear the voice and understand it.
What voice? Well, the voice inside my head that says things like: you did it this time, let’s see if you can manage it next time. Or, you don’t deserve to be here – the others are way smarter than you are. The voice of inadequacy, that compares me to others or gives me the feeling of not belonging.
Acknowledge my thoughts and put them into perspective.
How? Ask myself whether these thoughts are going to help or hinder me.
Or better – Am I:
Contributing value? Are my clients benefiting from my products or services.
Getting the job done? Am I sharing what they need to know to get further?
Being authentic? Am I living in alignment with my truth and beliefs?
Reframe my thoughts
Valerie Young says that feelings are the last to change when we want to stop feeling like an imposter. So if we want to stop feeling like an imposter we have to stop thinking like an imposter. Logical, no?
Our bodies don’t know the difference between fear and excitement, which means if we are about to do something we are really nervous about, or where our self confidence is shaky, all we have to do is say. I’m excited, I’m excited.
Even if we don’t believe it, that’s ok. We don’t have to feel confident to act confidently. Over time we, with repetition or practice, we will begin to believe our new thoughts and, when we do, we can stop trying to overcome the imposter syndrome. We just need to use reframing to talk ourselves out of that moment.
Affirmations for everyday
What are affirmations? Affirmations are sentences (formulated positively) that you repeat to yourself over and over again to build up self-belief in the subconscious mind.
When you first start saying these phrases, they might not necessarily be true. They should, however, be designed to reflect what you want to be true. They need to be unique and powerful to you and what you want to become. Same as reframing.
Over time, with consistent repetition, the daily positive affirmations will help to reshape your inner beliefs about yourself.
Some examples of positive affirmations are:
I know I can do this
If I can do this, I will be able to help others in the future
The only approval I need is my own
I am excellent at what I do
I accept myself unconditionally and chose to be proud of myself
Part of the process of letting go of imposter syndrome is believing in oneself and being visible – despite doubting accomplishments or a persistent feeling of lack of courage to go after new opportunities, explore potential areas of interest, and put ourselves out there in a meaningful way.
One of my paintings from Release your emotions – or Heartful Healing / Connect Artfully course.
And last but not least, here are a few famous women who also suffered from imposter syndrome:
At the end of the day we need to remember – We are:
Here for a reason – in this life, in this family, in this job or business – anywhere.
Worthy – worthy of success, worthy of love and worthy of opportunities to shine.
Better than we think we are and probably know a lot more than we give ourselves credit for.
Remember this as we need to remind ourselves as often as we need to.