Have you ever felt like you’re not good enough? Like you’re a fraud or you’re going to get found out? That you’re in a room full of people who are so much better than you?
Well, that is called imposter syndrome and you’re in good company as 70% of us feel like this at some point in our life, with women being much more susceptible to this than men.
And whilst women are more likely to suffer from imposter syndrome it can impact anyone. Imposter syndrome is not a diagnosed medical condition, nor are there any magic potions to make it go away, but it is essential to tackle head on and make sure that it does not have a debilitating effect on your work and success.
Those suffering from imposter syndrome will often start a task or new job with strong feelings of self-doubt, inadequacy and often anxiety. And even when they are successful or have achieved the desired outcome, they often attribute this to luck, a fluke or overworking. These cycle of thoughts often make you feel like a fraud waiting to be exposed which then perpetuates and aggravates these self doubting beliefs.
Needless to say, this is not the case and these individuals are competent and suitable for the task in hand. High achievers are generally more prone to this phenomenon because of their school or university career. Where they would have previously attributed their successes to a percentage or letter determining their intelligence, in the working world their abilities hold no solid ‘grade’ proof and in most cases the constant worry of being exposed or tagged as such can result in anxiety and depression. *
So how do you overcome this? Or is this just the way things are always going to be?
I’ve had years of working on overcoming challenges all linked to imposter syndrome and I know I’m not alone! So, I want to share my process for recognising those imposter feelings, acknowledging them for what they are (not true!) and releasing them so you can start confidently and powerfully showing up and serving your audience – and boosting your business to the next level.
Tip one: Let’s get visual
Whenever any feelings of doubt creep in, I visualise a dark little devil sitting on my right shoulder. He tells me the things that keep me safe, don’t stretch me or put me in the way of danger. He’s the voice that says “Don’t do that because something bad will happen” or “You can’t do that”. By visualising him and giving him a persona, this really helps me recognise what is going on and helps me stop him in his tracks.
In contrast to the little devil (the imposter syndrome), I also have my angel sitting on my left shoulder. She is full of light and positivity, and whispers “You can do this, give it a go, what’s the worst that can happen”, “you’re going to be good at this, you’ve got all this experience, you’ve done all these things… use them!” I visualise her as having warmth and energy.
Both of these personas have very different voices and agendas, both make me feel and act very differently. But the process I use when I hear these voices is the same:
Recognise: Firstly, I recognise whose voice it is. Is it the imposter devil or my positive angel?
Acknowledge: Then I acknowledge what they are saying to me. Is it useful, factually accurate, worth listening to?
Release: Finally it’s about releasing. I choose not to listen to the negative voice if he’s whispering unhelpful things, releasing his negativity, and only take on board what the angel says to me.
To release I use an NLP technique which taught me to visualise a huge stop sign as soon as I recognise the little devil’s words. I visualise putting it in front of him. He can’t get over it, under it or round it… and he’s definitely not getting through it!
This is something you need to keep working on as the imposter naturally can come back from time to time, (there’s a saying ‘new level, new devil, for a reason!) but when it does, I just use the same technique.
If you’re not a visual person, you can try writing the thoughts down then physically throwing them away, or using another powerful stop word which resonates with you. Just keep trying different techniques until you find one that works for you. I also encourage you to welcome your angel’s voice and all the positive thinking surrounding that – visualise all the things you can achieve and start believing in yourself. After all, what you believe is what you can achieve.
Tip two: The worry journal
Another technique which worked wonders for helping me manage feelings of anxiety and worry was a ‘worry journal’. You only need to spend 10-15 mins a day writing down and ‘brain-dumping’ all the things that worry you – it’s a purposeful, allocated time for worry, so don’t go over the time slot.
All worriers know that once you start worrying about one thing it can easily spiral. Allocating a set time is really powerful as you’re recognising those feelings, you’re acknowledging them but you’re not letting them control you, and you’re releasing them by getting them out of your head so they aren’t whirring around and getting jumbled with reality.
You are taking back the power of how you feel, act and think – and that is the key to stepping up and showing up powerfully to your audience.
Tip three: Flip reverse it…
This leads me nicely on how to flip the imposter and turn those negative thoughts into positive questions that you could use to your advantage. For example, if you hear him saying “You can’t do this” change this to “How can I do this?” Reframing your language is one of the most powerful things you can do for your self-belief.
You owe it to yourself, your clients, and future clients to show up and share your expertise. Only by stepping out of your comfort zone will you create a new comfort zone and edge closer to your goals.
So, what are you waiting for?
Experiencing bouts of imposter syndrome is entirely normal and natural, some people are more susceptible than others, but know that you are not alone! We usually hear his little growling voice when we’re stretching ourselves out of our comfort zones, so it can be seen as a good sign. Remember, ‘new level, new devil’ – but you can stop him in his tracks and step fully into your power.
About the Author
Rhiannon Bates is the driving force behind Garnet PR, a boutique agency specialising in mindset, business and PR coaching for female business owners, particularly service-based business or those in the rural and luxury lifestyle sectors. She also provides Public Relations services for high-level female coaches and entrepreneurs. https://www.garnetpr.com/