Imposter syndrome. Have you ever heard of it? Experienced it? Have you ever noticed that doubt creeping in that you aren’t quite good enough to be where you are, doing what you’re doing? Have you experienced that feeling of fear setting in that someone will see that you’re a fraud, that you haven’t truly earned what you’ve accomplished, it’s all just down to luck? That feeling that everyone knows more than you and that keeps you stuck right where you are hiding in the crowd? Sound familiar?
What is Imposter Syndrome?
We all experience imposter syndrome at some point in our lives (yes, me included) and it’s important to know how to recognise it and understand that you’re not alone. Imposter syndrome (and what a dreadful, negatively charged name by the way!) is the belief that we simply don’t know enough/aren’t good enough. It can impact all areas of our lives, not just our work and careers, and it can lead us to a crisis of confidence by constantly comparing ourselves to others and feeling as though we don’t measure up.
The presence of social media in our daily lives can also help to fuel those negative feelings of comparing ourselves to others. We’re constantly scrolling through our social media feeds and thinking ‘Wow, look at how together xxx is? She’s really excelling in business/at motherhood/dealing with lockdown. I’m nothing like as knowledgeable/experienced /competent ….’ If you’ve ever experienced those kind of thoughts (and I’m guessing pretty much 99.9% of us have at some stage in our lives) chances are you’ve been dealing with imposter syndrome.
Those of you that know me will know that I’m not into ‘labels’ and, whether we call it imposter syndrome or something else, I’m all about working with you to normalise what you’re experiencing and helping you realise that you’re not alone.
Reframing your imposter thoughts
When dealing with the negative thoughts relating to imposter syndrome, it’s important to recognise the feelings that you’re experiencing and try to look at things in a slightly different way.
Don’t make it about you. Focus on who you are helping. You don’t have to be the world’s best expert in your chosen field, you just need to know more than the person who needs your help.
Recognise that you are telling yourself a story, ‘I don’t know enough, they’ll see right through me, I’ll get it all wrong’ but remember that story probably isn’t even true.
No one has it all figured out. Even if they look like they have. One of the dangers of comparing ourselves to others is that we’re not comparing like with like. That other business owner you follow on Instagram with the beautifully curated feed, 5000 followers and a fully subscribed membership group, might be five years further along in their journey than you are.
It’s also worth remembering (and prepare yourself for a mind-blowing revelation … ) that there are probably people out there comparing themselves to you and wishing that they had as much knowledge and experience as you have. Wow. Who’d have thought it?
5 simple steps to challenge the imposter syndrome thoughts
Now you’ve got a clearer grasp on the kind of thoughts that creep up on us as part of imposter syndrome, these 5 simple steps can help you challenge and overcome the feelings it evokes when it strikes:
- Acknowledge the fear you feel. It’s okay to feel scared, it’s all part of being human but it doesn’t have to stop you from achieving your goals.
- Realise the truth. Pick apart those stories that your mind is telling you. Are they true or (and I’m betting on the second option) are they complete BS?
- Find someone to confide in/talk to about it. Talking about our fears really does help to take the power out of them. When it comes to talking about imposter syndrome, I guarantee that when you share your worries with friends/family you’ll find that they have all felt exactly the same way as you at some point. If you share this blog post with your network, I’m sure you’ll be amazed at just how many people it resonates with.
- Get some perspective. What’s the worst that can happen if things don’t go to plan or even if someone does think that? Will it really be the end of the world? My guess is, probably not.
- Focus on learning, not performing. This is an important one. Mistakes are an inevitable part of the process, they help us to learn and grow. If things do go wrong, what have you learnt from that experience? What will you do differently next time?
It’s worth remembering that challenging these kind of negative thoughts can be tough and there’s no ‘quick fix’. It really is an ongoing process of putting the work in and challenging the thoughts when they decide to pop up and bother us.
If a lot of what I’ve said about imposter syndrome has resonated with you and you’re ready to take some action, there are several ways that I can help.
First of all, if you’re not a member of my free Facebook group The Successful Ladies Escape Lounge, why not join us?
Imposter syndrome is a topic that crops up in the group a lot (see, I told you that you’re not the only one feeling this way). The group is made up of a fantastic bunch of women and we’re all there to support and learn from each other. One of the things I love so much about the Escape Lounge, is how it helps to highlight the fact that we’re all dealing with similar worries and negative beliefs. Sharing our insecurities with others can be so powerful when you realise that everyone experiences these kind of thoughts to some degree. You really aren’t the only one feeling this way.
If this really resonated for you, why not sign up for my 10 Days to ditch Imposter Syndrome email series. Every day for 10 days you receive a little nudge from me with a tip and a task to help you put those imposter syndrome feelings back in their box.
And remember …
You are enough, yes you! Exactly as you are.
As ever I would love to hear from you if you have any thought or questions, and if you would like to find out more about coaching with me, let’s chat. I offer a complimentary 30 minute discovery call, no obligation at all