Imagine I am standing in front of you. I would ask you this question … “By a show of hands, how many of you have ever experienced Imposter Syndrome?” Before you could either raise your hand or think about doing that, mine would go flying up … you see, no matter what position you hold, your experience, age, or background, at some time for whatever reason, this does creep in … AND might I add at the most inopportune time!
Let’s give you the real definition of the Impostor Syndrome – “A psychological phenomenon where individuals doubt their own accomplishments and have a persistent fear of being exposed as a fraud, despite evidence of their competence. People with impostor syndrome often attribute their successes to luck or external factors rather than their own abilities.” Sounds complicated and yet we have no trouble renting space in our minds.
For those of you that may not have experienced it, here’s what it may look like:
Perfectionism: People with impostor syndrome may set exceedingly high standards for themselves and feel inadequate if they don’t meet these standards perfectly. As a recovering perfectionist, I can vouch for this. Perfectionism isn’t a thing. Once you understand this you’ll realize that you have nothing to compare your success to because your success is built on consistency, not perfectionism.
It’s important to adjust your standards of success to focus on progress instead of aiming for perfection. Standardizing your goals to a “perfect” outcome is unrealistic and leaves absolutely zero room for growth moments. And these are the moments you need to become a better version of yourself. It’s not about being “good enough,” it’s about doing the best you can do.
Overachievement: Impostor syndrome can drive us to work excessively hard to prove our worth, often leading to burnout.
Fear of failure: There’s an intense fear of making mistakes or failing, as this could confirm our self-perceived incompetence.
Attributing success to external factors: We tend to attribute our successes to luck, timing, or help from others, rather than acknowledging our own capabilities.
And of course, as if we didn’t have enough to think about … it is more prevalent in women … the truth is, it can affect anyone, but statistics show that we claim the prize.
Whether it’s due to the expectations from society, or stereotypes or even how we are not represented in certain fields, women often feel the pressure to prove themselves in male-dominated industries or live up to what society tells us we should look like, dress like and be like and of course … there is always social media that makes comparison a mandatory part of the game.
Well, there is good news!
You are not alone. It happens to all of us. As I said, it happens to women at all levels, from all backgrounds, and at all ages. You’d be surprised at how many successful people are suffering from imposter syndrome. And yes, we can honestly thank social media for this common occurrence.
Just in case you needed some concrete evidence … Maya Angelou often felt like a fraud. She said, “I have written 11 books, but each time I think, ‘uh oh, they’re going to find out now.” I don’t know about you, but I did exhale a little easier knowing that she felt like that, I am in good company.
So now it’s time to CRASH through your limiting beliefs because that is the attraction that keeps your “friend” coming back and creating some new beliefs instead of holding onto your old limiting ones. A tongue twister for sure. Life’s biggest limitations are the ones you make up in your mind.
Most of the time, the thing that holds us back is the voice of our own inner critic. We talk to ourselves more than anyone one else…so we believe what we tell ourselves. Time for a PLOT TWIST! It’s time to let ourselves know we are intelligent, innovative, deserving, and ready to smash through those limiting beliefs and create change.
Ask yourself, “What limiting beliefs?” This is an easy 3-step process:
- Identify your self-limiting beliefs. Are there particular situations that make you feel “less than enough”? Identify and give it a name perhaps.
- Challenge your self-limiting beliefs. It’s time to search for evidence that contradicts them. Find the counter argument to your self-limiting belief. Is it real or is it something you kind of sort of believe? If you remember this, you’ll understand if it is reality … “Is it real or is it Memorex?” If you don’t recognize that tagline, let me know and I’ll explain its origin.
- Change the narrative. What can you say out loud or to yourself, to change the tapes? Sometimes just hearing it out loud can give you a few ideas about changing a word or two to make it seem less impossible and more about what you’re able to conquer.
That is an exercise that will let you know that many of the challenges we face may not be as limiting as we think. We have incredible imaginations and fortunately, most of the scenarios we conjure up in our beautiful minds … never actually happen.
When you change your mindset, you change your world.
However, there are times that we need some tangible ways to overcome the imposter syndrome when she comes knocking at your door…
Here are 5 ways (and if you need more, simply reach out and ask)
- Acknowledge your feelings: Recognize that you are experiencing impostor syndrome and that it’s a common phenomenon. Accepting your feelings is the first step toward addressing them.
- Challenge negative thoughts: Pay attention to negative self-talk and self-doubt. When you catch yourself thinking you’re not good enough, challenge those thoughts with evidence of your accomplishments and capabilities.
- Celebrate your achievements: Keep a record of your accomplishments, whether big or small. Reviewing this list can help remind you of your successes and boost your self-confidence. Learning how to celebrate your own success is imperative on the journey of overcoming imposter syndrome. Taking small moments out of your day to be proud of the achievements you’ve made will help you make gradual progress in raising your self-worth.
- Shift your focus: Instead of dwelling on perceived shortcomings, focus on your strengths and the value you bring to your work or field. Another way at looking at those shortcomings is to rename them … I use opportunities for growth.
- Surround yourself with the right people: Share your feelings with friends, mentors, or colleagues you trust. Often, they can offer a fresh perspective and reassurance. Surround yourself with people who uplift and encourage you. Their support can counteract the self-doubt you’re experiencing.
And as a bonus:
Take action despite fear: Don’t wait for your self-doubt to disappear before taking action. Act despite the fear, and over time, your confidence may catch up.
As RBG said, “Speak your mind, even if your voice shakes!”