An overwhelming amount of people that I know say that they do suffer or have suffered from imposter syndrome. I often wonder how that could possibly be the case when they outwardly appear to be absolutely smashing life?
With more and more tales of imposter syndrome rearing its ugly head without warning, as well as my own personal experiences having major bouts of waiting for someone to ‘find me out’, I was interested in exploring imposter syndrome further and looking at healthy ways to try and push past crippling self-doubt and anxiety.
So what exactly is Imposter Syndrome?
According to Psychology Today, the term ‘Imposter Syndrome‘ was coined back in 1978 by two clinical psychologists named Pauline Clance and Suzanne Innes. They found that: “Despite having adequate external evidence of accomplishments, people with imposter syndrome remained convinced that they don’t deserve the success they have”. Sounds pretty nuts right? Why can’t our brains just let us have our time to shine?
When you’ve worked so hard to get to where you want to be, or you have put the hours in to achieve something significant, it is super annoying to have your success parade rained on by imposter syndrome.
Why is imposter Syndrome so deliberating?
Imposter syndrome can act as a serious obstacle when it comes to the progression of your general day to day life, your relationships or your work. I know so because I too have imposter syndrome ricocheting through my veins a good proportion of the time. And whilst I’m not the CEO of a business or working in a very high risk, or high responsibility job, I still feel imposter syndrome affects the parameters of my world and my achievements.
With imposter syndrome, there’s always a niggle in your mind, an evil voice saying: “You don’t know what you’re doing” or “Someone is going to find out you’ve lied about what you can do” even though you have more than enough experience to handle the task at hand.
These horrible thoughts can lead you down a rocky path of crippling anxiety and play havoc with your mental health. If you’ve ever suffered with it, I am sure you don’t need me to tell you that imposter syndrome can make you feel really inadequate and incompetent when actually you are very capable, skilled and worthy. It’s often the best people for the job, that have the most self-doubt!
Fraudulent feelings don’t have to take over your mind
One of the main ways that I’ve tried to harness imposter syndrome is by shortlisting my abilities and then backing it up with evidence. After all, an irrational mind can’t argue with evidence! For example, I might think that I’m not qualified to undertake a task… I then take a step back and write down past successful experiences that prove, that actually, yes… I am qualified!
I even look at similar experiences where I haven’t been successful and retrospect on what I could have done better and what I learned. By breaking things down, I don’t feel quite so overwhelmed and so the familiar doubts can’t creep in as prominently.
I also remind myself of this piece I wrote on standing out in a crowded industry, sometimes it’s nice to remind your burnt out brain that you are worthy and you do have as much right to take up as much space as anyone else.
I’ve previously discussed the challenges that come with having too much choice and I honestly think the variety of paths available can cause us to feel we’re not worthy of any, even though we’re so incredibly lucky to have been awarded any opportunity at all. You have to have a bit of nerve.
When I was changing career from digital marketing to web delivery, I had some experience to call upon, but not exactly that skillset that would push me through a rigorous interview process, or even get myself in front of the hiring manager. Instead, I decided to have a bit of nerve and directly message the job poster and pitch myself to him as to why I’d be a worthy candidate for a role I’d never done before. It was no mean feat – but it worked. You can read more about that experience in this post if you’re interested.
Imposter syndrome doesn’t have to rule your life
One important thing to note is that when you are feeling like a total imposter in your own body, it is usually correlated with that fact that you’ve been awarded an opportunity of some kind. Seize it and make it yours, and even if you don’t succeed in the way you wish to, some of your most valuable lessons will have still been learned.