Struggling with the infamous Impostor Syndrome?
You’re smart, well educated, determined and successful. But sometimes at night you can’t sleep as you keep thinking about that meeting you have the next day. I mean, you have prepared for it. However, not as much as you wished. Deep down you know you could have done a bit more. If only you had more time, but you don’t. Now you’re in bed and you keep rolling from side to side as your thoughts will not leave you alone.
What if they are going to find out you’re a fraud. That you are not clever enough to be doing that job. They’re going to meet that version of yourself who is buried and hidden within yourself. And it is so scary!
It is scary but it is not real. This phenomenon is called Impostor Syndrome. It is quite an infamous one as it makes us quite anxious and fearful. The good news is that if you suffer from it, you’re in very good company. I certainly suffer from it on a regular basis. And we are not alone! A whopping 70% of us suffer from it at some point in our lives. (source Gravois, 2007, The Journal of Behavioural Science)
It is imperative we do something about it. Women are affected by it more than men. And it doesn’t only affect us physiologically or emotionally, we end up with smaller careers and smaller bank accounts than men. That is why it is so, so, so important we talk about this.
How do you know if you suffer from Impostor Syndrome? Do you have any of these thoughts on a regular basis?
✔ A lot of my success happened more by luck rather than my hard work.
✔ I'm so uncomfortable to be proud of my achievements. I feel like bragging...
✔ My successes don't really prove much, I have so many failures too. I can't be good enough...
✔ OMG! I'm so worried they're going to find out how little I know...
✔ When people praise me, I feel uncomfortable and feel I have to justify it by explaining I'm not that great...
Well I have good news for you! Not only are you normal…you're in good company! Most of us suffer from it on a regular basis. It is also very common in people who are high achievers.
What to do?
1) Recognise what it is
First of all be mindful that it is actually only a thought and not reality. Realising we have a problem is actually 50% of the solution. If you don’t know you have an issue, you certainly won’t do anything to fix it!
So, when you are freaking out that people are going to find out you’re a fraud, recognise that it’s not reality. And immediately start to think of all the things you’ve done right in your career and what an awesome person you are!
2) Focus on your strengths and learn from your mistakes
Keep reminding yourself of all the good qualities you bring to your career or work. What are your strengths? What do you understand better than most? What are you good at? Remember we are all different and we all shine in different ways! The world is beautiful, filled with 7 billion unique people.
Don’t want to make mistakes? Then do nothing and you’ll see the chances of making a mistake will basically be zero. But this will mean you’re not going anywhere, not progressing, not growing. Mistakes are awesome learning opportunities. You’ve done plenty of them and you’ll keep doing them. And it is totally fine. We’re humans and we learn by doing. Keep going!
3) You’re unique, stop comparing yourself to others
Wow! That lady on Instagram has the perfect life I aim for… except that person has a perfect life on Social Media but in reality she is not telling us that her laptop stylife from an exotic beach, is making her work 10 hours every single day or that her relationships are falling apart or that she has crippling anxieties and insecurities. My point is we can’t be envious of someone who shows us only what they want to show us. We all have our nitty gritty who only people we trust and know deeply, know. The same applies for that movie star who looks so gorgeous and successful, that Instagram model-mom with always well behaving happy children, your neighbour with the fancy house and handsome husband. We all have fears and anxieties. Stop comparing yourself to others. We’re all unique. Comparing ourselves is the thief of all joys. Be your best version!
4) Share the shame
Share that crippling fear that you are not good enough. Share it with people you trust. Ask them to remind you why you’re such an amazing person. Be vulnerable with them and allow them to be vulnerable with you.
Also make sure you return the favour when they’re feeling blue.
5) Focus on your client
When it is that we most fear being found out? The answer is mostly at work. So why don’t you focus on your clients instead of your internal battles? What is it that the client wants and needs? How are they feeling? And most importantly how can you help them?
If you swiftly turn your attention from your thinking to how you can help your client, I promise your Impostor Syndrome will shrink.
All these techniques will not make the fear disappear once for all. But they will help you keep going after what you want and turn down the volume on that fearful side of you that wants to keep you safe from anything that is new or scary.
Don’t let fear stop you.
Honestly… nobody knows it all. Not even the top brain surgeon or the top academic person in your field. Do your best job and remember you’re good enough to be where you are right here and right now!
You got this!
Change starts now and it starts with you.
Janine is a Transformational Therapist and Coach and spends her time studying how and why we do what we do. Originally from Milan, but from an international family, she has lived in various countries and travelled extensively around the world.
She is a Clinical Hypnotherapist and a certified ‘Marisa Peer Method’ Advanced Rapid Transformation Technique (ARTT) hypnotherapist.
You can check her website at www.janinecera.com