OVERCOMING IMPOSTER SYNDROME – DO YOU HAVE IMPOSTER SYNDROME ?
Specifically, we’re going to talk about:
How to tell if you’re suffering from Imposter Syndrome
The causes of Imposter Syndrome
Ways of boosting your self confidence
How to handle failure
And much, much more!
Of course if you want to get a head start on all this, I’ve put together a no-holes-bared guidebook that explains everything in detail. You can find out all about it here: OVERCOME IMPOSTER SYNDROME.
So what is Imposter Syndrome and why should you care?
People with Impostor Syndrome believe they are not as competent as others perceive them to be. Usually this definition is narrowly applied to intelligence and achievement (often in regard to work or a career), but it also has links to perfectionism and social situations.
Oftentimes, those with Imposter Syndrome feel like they’re a fraud and live life fearful that they are going to be found out at any moment. They feel like they don’t belong where they are, and only got there through luck. This can affect anyone regardless of their social status, work background, skill level, or degree of expertise.
The term Imposter Syndrome was first used by psychologists Suzanna Imes and Pauline Rose Clance back in the 1970s. When the concept was introduced, it was originally thought to apply only to high-achieving women. Since then, however, it has been acknowledged as a much more widespread experience.
Do YOU have Imposter Syndrome?
I want to do a quick quiz to help you find out if you’re suffering from Imposter Syndrome. It will only take a few minutes.
Do you suffer from any of these common traits?
Do you think you’re a fraud and are worried you’ll be discovered? When people give you praise or compliments, to you feel they’re just being nice? Do you feel unworthy of success? Do you feel that your success was down to luck instead of talent, knowledge or hard work? When you look around at material possessions you have acquired in your lifetime, do you feel you don’t deserve them? Do you feel the same way your about relationships? Do you doubt your own abilities? Do you often feel anxious or depressed for no reason? Do you feel the need to take on more training, even though you’re already quite knowledgeable? Do you overprepare for meetings and presentations? Do you distrust people, and fear everyone who tries to be friendly may have an ulterior motive? Are there some things you’re afraid to try because you’re afraid others will discover you’re not up to the job? Do you set massive goals and then get depressed when you fail to achieve them? Do you sometimes sabotage your own success? Do you tend to keep co-workers at arms length in case they see through the facade and get a glimpse of the “real” you?
If you answered “yes” to any of those questions, there’s a good chance you may have Imposter Syndrome.
Admitting you have a problem is the first step to finding a solution; the second step is finding out what caused the problem in the first place.
PS. Grab yourself a copy of my guide to overcoming Imposter Syndrome now. It’s available as an instant download. Here’s the link: OVERCOME IMPOSTER SYNDROME.
What causes Imposter Syndrome?
There are many theories as to why people develop Imposter Syndrome. When Suzanna Imes and Pauline Rose Clance first coined the term in their groundbreaking paper “The imposter phenomenon in high achieving women: Dynamics and therapeutic intervention” back in 1978, they put it down to a number of different factors.
Chiefly they put it down to women being under represented in corporate America and that Imposter Syndrome was often down to gender conditioning. As it’s now accepted that Imposter Syndrome is just as prevalent in men, this aspect has now been largely discounted.
Family dynamics is a leading cause of Imposter Syndrome. The expectations and the value of success drummed into you during your childhood can stay with you throughout life. Perhaps you come from a family of high achievers and feel that you can’t measure up unless you strive for perfection. Conversely, perhaps your family had fairly low expectations of you and didn’t think you’d amount to much. As a consequence, you feel you can’t be the successful person you are now because that wasn’t meant to be your destiny. Maybe your parents were overly critical and would find fault with everything; now you carry on the habit yourself and question your abilities.
Cultural conditioning might also be a factor. Different cultures put different emphasis on things like education and achievement as well as what type of occupation constitutes a “real” job. The fact that you can make a good living doing something others consider “lightweight” may weigh heavily (and unnecessarily) on you.
Many sectors of society rate talent and natural ability below training and knowledge. You might be a natural storyteller, but because you don’t have a Masters Degree in English Literature, you figure that any success must be a fluke.
The key here is to identify the cause and look at it rationally. Ask yourself if there’s any merit to what you’re thinking. Chances are you won’t find any.
I’m sure you’ve had many successes in your life. Imposter Syndrome is a byproduct of success, after all.
And you know something?
Those successes weren’t because you were lucky, they were because you were good. Really! You might not believe me but it’s true.
Some people with Imposter Syndrome also suffer from low self confidence. It’s not hard to see why; after all, if you think you’ve gotten everything so far by luck, you’re likely to doubt your real abilities.
There are many ways you can boost your self confidence, and I want to talk about a couple of them today.
Self confidence comes from within, so the first step should be to practice positive self-talk. Everybody talks to themselves – it doesn’t mean you’re some kind of nut job. Your mind is always carrying on an internal conversation of thoughts.
What kind of conversation are you having in your head?
If you’re like a lot of people with Imposter Syndrome, that conversation is likely to be a negative one. Thoughts like: “I can’t do this.” or “This can’t be right; it’s too easy.” etc.
Stop it right now.
I’m not saying you should be like Pollyanna or view the world through rose-tinted glasses. It’s just that you need to start looking at the doughnut instead of the hole.
Instead of saying “I can’t do this.” tell yourself “This is going to be a challenge; let’s see how it goes.” When you manage to pull it off, reassure yourself by saying: “Yes, I got that right.” or “That was easier than I thought it was going to be”.
The second thing is to surround yourself with positive people – people who believe in you. Accept their compliments and praise. If they don’t think you’re a fraud, there’s no reason why you should.
PS. There’s a lot more to tell you. I devote Chapter 4 of my guide to overcoming Imposter Syndrome to this subject. You can read it at OVERCOME IMPOSTER SYNDROME.
You’re not a fraud and I can prove it.
One way to prove to yourself you’re not a fraud and that your success is not down to luck alone is to set a realistic goal and plan how to achieve it.
Note the word “realistic”. I’m not talking about some grand scheme here, just something achievable. Decide on something that you want to do, have or get within the next couple of days. Ideally this should be something within your resources (time, physical and financial) and should not rely heavily on anybody else’s involvement.
Now draw up a plan to reach that goal.
The thought of drawing up a plan can scare people, but it’s easier than you think. The key is to start at the end and work backwards. In other words, start at the point where you’ve successfully reached your goal, and work backwards to now.
This way you KNOW that everything you want to do is achievable AND that you have both the ability and resources to do it.
You’ll know before you do THIS, you have to do THAT, and before you can do THAT, you have to do something else.
You can also work in a “Plan B” at the same time.
“Before I can do this, I have to do that, but if that doesn’t work I can always do this instead”
Suddenly failure isn’t an option, and it has nothing to do with luck.
Write your plan down. Put it in the form of a to-do list so you can check off what you’ve done as you go along. Congratulate yourself when you’ve done each step. Tell yourself: “I was able to do that, and it’s good.”
Build up to more complicated, long term goals using the same technique. At every stage of the process, remind yourself that you’ve reached this far through your own abilities. Keep the positive people you’ve surrounded yourself with in the loop so they can provide any reassurance necessary.
Despite what I said yesterday, sometimes things won’t go to plan and you will fail. Oftentimes this happens at work or when you have to rely heavily on other people who may have their own agenda that doesn’t exactly tie-in with your goal. Sometimes a plan will fail due to factors outside your control, or because of something you didn’t know about, overlooked or didn’t take into consideration when drawing your plan up. Other times a plan will fail because of some unknown factor. When that happens, the only way to figure out what works is by eliminating everything that doesn’t work. THAT type of failure is actually good, and (with perseverance) can be turned into success.
Let me give you an example…
Somewhere in your home you probably have a can of WD-40. Do you know what WD-40 stands for? It stands for Water Displacement 40th Formula. The people behind WD-40 tried (and failed) 39 times before finding a formula that worked. Despite all that effort, these days the product doesn’t get used for its original purpose very often. WD-40 was intended to stop the warheads of Cold War rockets getting rusty, but nowadays most people use it as a lubricant. Go figure.
The key to overcoming failure and turning it into success is to dissect the failure, work out WHY what you were trying to do failed, and then either figure out a workaround if your goal is still achievable, or just simply file the experience away for future reference to make sure it never happens again. Either way, you learn from the experience.
PS. The workplace can be a minefield for failure – especially as so many things are outside of your control. To help you navigate this dangerous territory (and one that can make you feel like an imposter in your own life) I devote Chapter 6 or my guide to overcoming Imposter Syndrome to this subject. There’s still time to grab yourself a copy from OVERCOME IMPOSTER SYNDROME today.
I want to give you some practical tips for overcoming Imposter Syndrome.
First of all, redefine competence. Competent people know what they’re good at and what they’re not. Become one of them. Do what you say you will do, but don’t over-promise.
Secondly, stop comparing yourself to other people. You’re YOU, and there are lots of factors concerning other people’s lives that you know nothing about.
Finally, think of some of your successes – both large and small. Write down everything you did to achieve them. Go back over all the steps you took. You’ll find that luck had very little (if anything) to do with those successes. Anytime you start to feel unworthy or the success you’re having, re-read those notes to remind yourself of the effort you’ve put in to get where you are today. Build on those to make a brighter tomorrow.
Wow, we’ve covered quite a lot over. Let’s just recap.
We talked about the causes of Imposter Syndrome and how to tell if you’re suffering from it. We covered some ways of boosting your self confidence, how to handle (and learn from) failure, and how to draw up a plan that can be achieved without leaving anything to luck.
But you know what? Within the confines of this short e-course I’ve only been able to scratch the surface of this fascinating (and life changing) subject. There’s a whole bunch of stuff I just haven’t had the time to tell you about – like assertiveness, Imposter Syndrome triggers and the 5 types of Imposter Syndrome – to name just a few. I cover them all (plus some of the things we’ve discussed in this e-course in more detail) in my guide to overcoming Imposter Syndrome. It’s still available, but I’m going to be taking it down soon. Grab your copy RIGHT NOW from OVERCOME IMPOSTER SYNDROME and start living the life your were born to live.
To your success!
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