Whether in your professional life or your personal life, you’ve no doubt had a case of imposter syndrome – an affliction that can stop even the most confident, self-assured person in their tracks. In this post, I’m here to help you understand a little more about imposter syndrome and how tackling it is not as difficult as you might think.
WHAT IS IMPOSTER SYNDROME?
Now, this might seem like an obvious question – after all, the clue is in the title. But imposter syndrome is a different experience for everyone. According to the Cambridge English Dictionary, an imposter is:
‘A person who pretends to be someone else in order to deceive others.’
Synonyms include a wolf in sheep’s clothing and a faker. Yikes! Not something you see as qualities you possess, I’m sure. And therein lies the problem. You’re a decent, honest person. You don’t see yourself as a wolf in any type of clothing – not even Grandma’s. But that’s not quite what imposter syndrome is all about.
It’s about feeling like an imposter – as though you shouldn’t be doing what you’re doing. As though someone might discover you’re not as qualified or experienced as you think you are. That someone, at any second, will expose you as some sort of fraud.
Now sometimes you may only feel mild symptoms of imposter syndrome – you know, the odd moment where you succumb to that inner voice but you then adopt a Taylor Swift approach and shake it off. But at other times you may feel it in such gargantuan ways that it stops you from fully realising your goals and dreams – keeping you rooted to the metaphorical spot in your business or personal growth.
So what can you do about it?
TACKLING IMPOSTER SYNDROME
One of the best ways to tackle imposter syndrome is to first understand the root cause of it. Because, believe it or not, it’s actually your brain’s way of trying to protect you.
It stems from the part of your brain that’s responsible for perceived fear or danger. The amygdala is a tiny gland that acts a bit like a smoke detector. Now while that’s helpful if you’re in a face-off with an escaped lion from London Zoo, it’s not actually helpful when you’re trying to give your first talk to a group of people or start your first Instagram live.
But simply knowing it’s perfectly natural and is simply your brain’s way of protecting you, can help you manage it in a better way.
So when you start doubting yourself or wondering who the heck you are to do any of this, remember that your brain wants to stop you from getting hurt or putting yourself in danger. It’s looking for any perceived reason why you shouldn’t step onto that stage or press the ‘Go live now’ button.
Instead of giving you reasons why you should, it quickly gives you reasons why you shouldn’t. But now’s your chance to take back control!
QUICK AND EASY STEPS TO STOP IMPOSTER SYNDROME IN IT’S TRACKS
Imposter syndrome often manifests itself as that tiny voice in your head – sometimes known as the inner critic. But there are ways to silence her, so try these on for size:
- Recognise the way you’re feeling – name some of the emotions that imposter syndrome is trying to hide. Write them down and get them out of your head.
- What are some of the phrases you keep saying to yourself that make you feel like an imposter – e.g. I’ve only been doing this for 12 months, so maybe I’m not experienced enough? Write these down too.
- Next to each phrase, write down the counterarguments – e.g. I’ve only been doing this for 12 months, but in that time here are the successes I’ve had that could help others.
- Print off some of your favourite feedback from clients to remind yourself that you do have what it takes to put yourself out there – stick them up around you for a quick confidence boost.
- When imposter syndrome strikes, acknowledge your brain for trying to protect you. Reassure it that you’re okay and there’s no danger – you’re just trying new things. Reframe those feelings of panic into feelings of excitement.
- Find an affirmation or two you can use when imposter syndrome strikes – keep them nearby and say them out loud to yourself whenever you need to.
- If imposter syndrome appears before a specific event, take ten slow breaths in and out, counting as you go, just before you go in.
- And don’t forget a trusty power pose can always help too!
Always remember that everyone experiences imposter syndrome – why do you think Beyonce has her alter-ego, Sasha Fierce? By knowing why you feel that way, you’re now able to take back control and start embracing new challenges. By doing so, you’ll discover you can do things you never thought possible.
And there’s no better feeling.