4 steps to overcome the imposter within!
So, what do Maya Angelou, Michelle Obama and Sheryl Sandberg, have in common. Apart from being powerful women? They have all admitted to suffering from an imposter syndrome, at some point of their lives and careers.
So, what is Imposter Syndrome?
People who struggle with imposter syndrome believe that they do not deserve their achievements and the high esteem in which they are, in fact, generally held. They feel that they aren’t as competent or intelligent as others might think—and that soon enough, people will discover the truth about them. Those with imposter syndrome are often well accomplished; they may hold high office or have numerous academic degrees.
“I have written eleven books, but each time I think, ‘uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.’“
If you struggle from bouts of the impostor syndrome, it is imperative you get to the end of it, and find ways to move past it, because to believe we don’t deserve something, contributes to the niggling feelings of anxiety, depression, inadequacy, difficulty in relationships and low self esteem.
Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes coined the term “Impostor Syndrome” after observing many high-achieving women who believed they were not competent, and that they were over-evaluated by others.
But here is what you should know –
Impostor syndrome is NOT a personality trait.
Impostor syndrome is a REACTION to certain situations.
There are types of imposter syndromes. Have a look at our post on Instagram for more on the types
So, How does one combat the imposter within?
- Identify, Acknowledge and Solve.
The good news is that just recognizing you are feeling impostor syndrome thoughts can help you stop them. This means you need to get in the habit of hearing your own self-doubts by analyzing your thoughts as they happen. If you hear yourself say, “Oh I don’t deserve this” or “It was just luck,” pause and note in your head or in a journal that you are having these impostor syndrome thoughts.
A Journal, could help you here. Recognizing your impostor feeling is in itself a big achievement. This can help you identify and stop them.
- Develop the habit of listening to your own self doubts, as they happen.
- Take a pause, note it down in your journal.
- A few weeks into this routine, will help you name and tame the various reactions, and you will eventually learn to deal with those thoughts.
If they still persist, then take some time out to reflect on the events of the day, and document the thoughts that came to your mind.
- Indulge the imposter for 30 minutes –
We all have idiosyncrasies. And believe me, you are not as weird as you think you are. You are in fact human. With a good side and a not so good side.
We all have that ‘one side’ we don’t show people.
But impostor syndrome is when you start believing that your inner psyche and who you are, is weirder than everyone else. As counterproductive as it may seem, sometimes it is best to indulge the thoughts, and parts of you, you feel you are hiding from others.
To do this, reach out for your journal again. Find the notes section and write down every detail you are trying to hide. Insane beliefs, worst parts of your character, and everything that makes you feel like a fraud.
While this exercise won’t help get rid of the syndrome as such , but will help externalizing them and thereby putting them into perspective.
- Develop catchphrases
At times, the negative chatter in our minds can be so stormy and overwhelming that identifying and nipping isn’t going to cut it. In times like these, when we get caught up in the storm, it’s helpful to have some catchphrases in our combat bag , that we can utilize to calm us and bring us back to the present moment.
Here are some of the ones I use –
“I am worthy and talented and I deserve this”
“I trust my judgement and I make strong decisions”
“I am endlessly resilient to whatever life throws at me!”
“I am good, I do my best, and I cannot control all the rest”
- Normalize it! You are not alone.
The International Journal of Behavioral Science estimates that 70% of us will experience imposter syndrome at some point in our lives; it’s a common and normal response to living in a world where we are under constant pressure to achieve.
Michelle Obama, Tom Hanks and Tina Fey are just a few among many famous names who claim familiarity with it.
There comes a sense of solidarity when you realize you are not struggling alone.
Of course we can never know the ins-and-outs of what’s going on in other people’s heads (and thankfully, nor them of us) but I think it’s also safe to say that, at some level, we all struggle with simply being human. It’s not an easy gig. So rather than viewing success and ease as things achieved by ‘everyone else’ but never by us, let’s recognize how much common ground we share in our vulnerabilities.
Just remember – most of us are winging it, most of the time.