Fake. Fraud. Phony. Poser. Pretender. All ways to describe the debilitating and negative feelings associated with the Imposter Syndrome. But that’s not the worst part.
The worst part of the Imposter Syndrome is that those words, and a million more, are what we call ourselves. It’s the self-destructive internal dialogue that torments and tortures nearly 70% of the population according to recent studies.
In a nutshell, the Imposter Syndrome are those feelings of inadequacy, second-guessing, self-doubt, self-flagellation and a complete crisis of confidence that swirl around our brains and cause us to question our abilities, our expertise and our accomplishments. It’s the feeling that you don’t belong or don’t deserve the success you have achieved, and the fear that everyone will soon find out that you have absolutely no idea what you’re doing.
I’ve been a career coach for more than 20 years and every single client has experienced the Imposter Syndrome at one time or another. Sometimes it’s while interviewing for a new job or being considered for a big promotion. The powerful self-sabotaging mindset is that, “I’m sure there are plenty of other people smarter and more qualified than I am, and they’ll quickly realize the err of their ways if they choose me.”
The Imposter Syndrome erodes your self-esteem, increases anxiety and insecurity, and has a negative impact on your performance and production at work. It’s a career killer!
This happened to my client just recently. She was presenting an idea in a meeting on a topic that was completely aligned with her skill set and expertise. Someone else offered a few suggestions to elevate and expand the idea, and my client immediately experienced the painful shame spiral associated with the Imposter Syndrome. “I should have known that! They thought I was the expert, and now everyone is going to think I’m a total idiot and don’t belong on the team.”
If you experience any of these feelings, you need to know you’re not alone. Here are 4 Ways to Cure the Imposter Syndrome…
- Speak Out – suffering in silence only emboldens the Imposter Syndrome and prolongs the shame spiral. Don’t carry that heavy burden…confide in a trusted friend, mentor or coach about how you’re feeling. You will immediately feel better, lighter and not alone.
- Learn a New Language – instead of beating yourself up like my client did, re-language the perceived failure. Remove “should” from your vocabulary and express gratitude…”I didn’t think of that before, but thank goodness I know it now so I can be even better.”
- Keep a Brag Book – it’s easy to hyper-focus on the mistakes and missteps, and completely forget all about your accomplishments. Keep those successes top of mind in an ongoing and updated Brag Book to jog your memory and focus on the positive.
- Catch and Release – just like fishing, when the overwhelming thoughts of negativity and self-doubt creep into your brain…capture them, then set them free. Don’t allow them to linger any longer than necessary, and don’t bring them home! They will quickly start to stink like dead fish.
Telling yourself you’re never going to feel insecure, question your self-confidence or battle against the Imposter Syndrome again is unrealistic. What is realistic is taking control and taking charge of your thoughts, your feelings and your actions. Whenever the Imposter Syndrome tries to take over and sabotage your self-esteem and success, that’s when it’s time to pull on those big-girl panties and Woman UP!