So, you’ve landed your dream job, you’ve launched your own business and won your first client, you’ve been invited on your first podcast interview…. And then along comes, imposter syndrome. That wonderful feeling where you feel like you are going to be caught out. No one enjoys imposter syndrome when it rears its ugly head. Imposter syndrome leads to pluralistic ignorance, where we think we’re alone. But everyone experiences imposter syndrome!
Psychologists first derived the syndrome in 1978, and in a report conducted in 2020, up to 82% of people experience Imposter Syndrome at some point in their career. Some people may experience imposter syndrome for a limited period, e.g. the first few weeks of a new job, whilst others can struggle with it for a lifetime.
I have experienced it multiple times throughout my career, and many of those we look up to have felt it too. For example, the incredible Maya Angelou, author of 11 successful books, a poet, a Pulitzer Prize winner, a three-time Grammy award winner, has shared that “I have written 11 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.'”
Despite it being a shared experience, we want to move beyond this thought because fear of “being found out” actually causes anxiety and raises cortisol levels. Below I share my top five tips to minimise and manage imposter syndrome, if and when it arises. As the saying goes “a problem shared, is a problem halved”, so one of the first things you can do to crush imposter syndrome in its tracks is to talk about it to others, a trusted friend, family member, or a professional. Here, you will learn fast that you are not alone.
By naming it as imposter syndrome, you are already recognising that it is not true! Recognising that this is not a reflection of reality is the first step.Secondly, recognise your limiting beliefs. FEELING imposter syndrome is not the same as BEING an imposter. What are the stories and limiting beliefs you are telling yourself? Are they even yours? Were you told you weren’t capable when you were growing up? Or that your work wasn’t good enough? You need to identify the limiting beliefs, dissolve these and reaffirm new empowering beliefs. If you are expecting this to work overnight, this may be where you have been going wrong. It takes time to rewrite longly held beliefs. You need to be doing the mindset work not just daily, but multiple times a day to be embodying the beliefs of the future you who has achieved all your goals. As part of this, write yourself back into your achievements, recognise where you haven’t just been lucky. Every day reflect on three things you did well that day and show yourself love and gratitude. Keep this as a log to reflect back on when imposter syndrome is flaring up.Thirdly, reframe imposter syndrome as a positive term. If we use the framework ‘Be - Do - Have’, you want to be stepping into who you want to BE (the identity you will embody), so that you then naturally DO the things that lead to the desires you want to HAVE. Imposter syndrome is a sign you have already stepped into BEING future you — now it's time for your external reality to catch up. It’s a sign you are challenging yourself and this is a very positive step forward. A lack mentality is essentially the idea of scarcity. Imposter syndrome, and feeling we aren’t enough, or there isn’t enough to go round, reflects this scarcity mindset. Visualisation and affirmation practices are a fantastic tool to move beyond limiting beliefs, ego and a lack mindset.
This shifts your mindset from scarcity to an abundance mindset where you can call in your desires faster.The ego likes to leave no room for growth, or for getting uncomfortable which is ultimately required to leave your comfort zone and to create new results for your life. You have to move beyond perfectionism and beyond what you already know.Learn to embrace the discomfort of understanding that you only get new results from making changes. You have a choice. You can stay stuck in ego or you can move beyond the ego and into service, showing up powerfully in the world, taking bold steps and making a positive impact. The real game-changer and ultimate imposter syndrome blaster is taking action.
Image Credits: @iamalexandriamaria