I want to talk to you about imposter syndrome—the idea that you’re not good enough to be doing what you’re doing, the little voice that says you’re a fraud, and the nagging feelings of insecurity and self-doubt.
Tell me if you’ve ever experienced something like this…
- You’re about to launch your coaching business or a new product. You’ve done all your research, studied, prepared, and everything is in order. Then, right when you’re about to share your light with the world, you suddenly start to doubt yourself saying, “Who am I to be someone’s coach/healer? There are so many better products/services out there. Maybe I shouldn’t be doing this.”
- You’re about to get on a call with your boss to ask for a promotion. You’ve strengthened your skills, worked hard to move up in your position, and your resume is stacked and looks amazing. You pick up the phone to call your boss and start to feel doubt and fear that you’re not qualified. You may actually be over-qualified, but that nagging doubt just won’t stop.
- You’ve just had a baby. You’ve read the books, taken classes, you have all the love in your heart and soul. And then the moment the baby comes you immediately think, “Oh no, the jig is up. Everyone is going to see I’m not equipped to be a parent. Who thought it was a good idea for me to have authority over this helpless little person?”
If any of these sound familiar, you’re not alone. Imposter Syndrome is so common that 70 percent of people say they feel that way at least once in their lifetime; and, it doesn’t discriminate—it affects all genders, ages and cultures. It might show up in your romantic relationships, your thoughts as a parent, your career, or even your hobbies.
In this video from a recent Dear Gabby, I breakdown imposter syndrome and how to fix it.
WHAT EXACTLY IS IMPOSTER SYNDROME?
The term was defined in the 1970s by two psychologists, Dr. Pauline Clancea and Dr. Suzanne Imes who were trying to understand why some women attributed their success to luck rather than to their actual skills and achievements. They believed they weren’t worthy of their success despite tons of evidence to the contrary, and the doctors wanted to know why.
Those who experience imposter syndrome think, “If I were up to the task, I wouldn’t feel doubt or insecurity. Confidence doesn’t feel this way! It must be a sign I’m not worthy/ready/qualified.”
They also set impossible high standards for themselves. Dr. Valerie Young who has studied this phenomenon extensively found there are five types of people who experience imposter syndrome:
- The Perfectionist: They must do everything right. Anything less means they don’t know what they’re doing.
- The Expert: They need to know it all before beginning a task. They have to read the whole book first. If they don’t know how to do something, they are a failure.
- The Soloist: They have to do everything on their own for it to count. They think, “If I didn’t do it myself, I’m not truly good at it.”
- The Superwoman/Superman: They think every area of their life should be working perfectly all the time.
- The Natural Genius: They need to get things right the first time. Maybe things came easy when they were younger; but now, when they don’t find it easy on the first try, they figure they must be an imposter.
WHERE DOES IT COME FROM?
Imposter Syndrome comes from parts of ourselves that were developed from a very young age.
Starting from childhood, we establish core belief systems about ourselves. They include ideas like, “I’m not good enough. I’m unlovable. I’m inadequate.” As we advance in our careers and relationships, we might get more specific about these feelings of inadequacy. “Who am I to have an amazing career? Do I really deserve the relationship I desire?”
This belief system that we are somehow not worthy or not enough becomes a part of who we think we are. Consumed by self-doubt, we push to show ourselves and the world how great we are, so we aren’t “exposed” as the imposters that we feel like deep down. We overachieve so that no one will “catch on.” Or, we may seek ways to avoid or numb these imposter feelings (like drinking, overworking, or any form of addictive pattern); but, avoidance and overworking just feeds the problem.
This doesn’t just happen when you are starting something new. In fact, people who are quite successful can suffer from imposter syndrome.
Because of those core beliefs of inadequacy, we will do anything to avoid the possibility of reliving early fears and disappointments. Sometimes, one of the ways we avoid that is by sabotaging the greatness of who we are.
Feeling like an imposter can actually become worse when we are on the precipice of something great. When we are stepping outside our comfort zone—maybe starting a big job, deciding to have a baby, or trying to learn a new skill—that’s when we can sabotage it. Or, perhaps when we end up in that amazing relationship with the partner we always wanted—we deliberately mess it up.
HOW TO BREAK FREE OF IMPOSTER SYNDROME
When you are suffering from imposter syndrome, it’s very helpful to be as present in the moment as you possibly can. Ask yourself what is actually happening as opposed to the stories you are telling yourself. Try these four tools to help you break free.
Get out of your “what if” mindset.
A question that pops up a lot when you’re feeling like an imposter is, “What if?” It’s future-tripping. “What if I fail? What if people judge me? What if I’m not as good as I think I am?”
The way out of the “what ifs” is to reframe the question. “What can I do right now? What can I focus on in this moment? How can I feel inspired right now?”
Ground yourself in the present moment.
I think a lot of people get mad when I keep saying, “Be in the present. Be in the present.” I get that. It may seem hard, even impossible to be in the present, especially in a challenging time. But, the fastest way to release an outcome and the pressure of expectations is to reconnect with the present moment.
When you let go of expectations and outcomes, you stop trying to control the Universe. Instead, you allow the Universe to support you.
One way to stay connected in the now is to focus on small actions. The more small, inspired actions you take (versus only seeing that big, sometimes overwhelming goal), the more you’ll set yourself up to win in the future.
Release the beliefs that hold you back. Clear Your Self-Judgment…
One of the big reasons we stay stuck in imposter syndrome is because of a perpetual pattern of self-judgment. I’ve tackled this issue head on in my book Judgment Detox. To really help you today I’m giving you a free mini course on how to release judgment so that you can let go of those beliefs that hold you back.
This Mini Course guides you through three core lessons of the Judgment Detox process. You’ll get:
- A guided meditation that will give you instant relief from judgment.
- A video guiding you through a profound healing practice called Emotional Freedom Technique.
- An audio prayer that will shift your resentments and make you feel better fast.
It doesn’t matter if you’ve read the book. All you have to do is sit back, press play and follow along during this weeklong training.
Make a list of things that bring you joy.
The quickest and easiest way to get grounded and release the”what ifs” is to get into an energetic state of inspiration, joy and appreciation. Focusing on the positive will help you connect to that energy in your life rather than the negative.
Whether you’re eating lunch, caring for a baby, practicing your lines for your live event, writing a book or cleaning the bathroom…get in the moment. Small steps lead to the biggest changes, so focus on the moment instead of the outcome.
Feeling like an imposter is just another way of running from your greatness.
(photo credit: Shutterstock)