YOU are a fake! You are a phony! You have no idea what you are doing. You are a complete fraud.
Have you ever experienced a time when you felt like a total imposter?
Let’s talk about the Impostor Syndrome, when it shows up, and how there are ways we can tame its presence in our lives and learn from it.
We’ve all had Impostor Syndrome at some point in our lives. It is usually triggered by an event, a situation or a person. Of course, these events can be different for each of us, but in this post I will list three places we most often experience them. They are when,
- We are doing something that makes us very visible to others.
- We are learning something new & trying to apply it.
- We are comparing our talents & skills to another person.
Here is the break-down of each and what the Impostor can sound like when you are in the middle of the situation.
Number 1 – Visibility
When we are doing something that makes us very visible it can be very lonely and frightening. Take for example, speaking in front of an audience of 20 or more people. The Impostor shows up immediately because you are in a position where you stand alone, quite literally, against many. We hear this voice in our head, “Will they accept me?” “Am I good enough?”. Given that Public Speaking is a number one fear of adults it is easy to understand how very difficult this can be. We all want to feel accepted. Especially by our peer group.
Number 2 – Learning
The next common situation we can see the Impostor showing up is when we are learning something new. This can be a confronting thing for adults because we usually feel as though we know all the things, all the time. Or at least we think we should know all the things. We enter in the learning environment with a lot of ego & pride. Eventually we become overwhelmed when we don’t get it “right”. With this situation the language of the Impostor can sound like, “I’m not good enough or smart enough to learn this thing.” or “I’m too old to understand this stuff.”
Number 3 – Comparisonitis
The final situation or event that can summon the Impostor is when we compare our work or achievements against another’s. This has been commonly called, Comparisonitis. This one is around a lot thanks to the Internet and Social media. When we see someone doing that thing, that is very similar to what we are doing BUT they do it perhaps better or faster than you. This can make you feel like a total fraud. Usually you can hear this song sung in your head: “Not good enough, smart enough, you don’t know what the heck you are doing, you are not doing it right.” All the words of the Impostor can play out on this one.
How do we get beyond the Impostor?
Well, we don’t ever actually get totally rid of the negative self-talk nor the Impostor entirely. It is part of the human condition. But there are ways you can start to get above these feelings of low self-worth or low self-esteem.
Build up awareness
The first way is to build up your awareness. As Dr. Maya Angelou said,
“When we know better, we do better.”
This takes time, consistency, and conscious effort. We have something like 80,000 thoughts a day. We also have learned some negative ways of looking at life. Between the ages of 1-6 years, we were keen observers of the caregivers around us: Mom & Dad, teachers, and other adults. Many subliminal messages were downloaded that we weren’t even aware of because our observations and perceptions were developing. As children we were trying to make sense of things and building associations to how things work or should work. Therefore, this step will bring up some things for you that can be deep and confronting. Take time with this process.Please give yourself plenty of room for compassion and forgiveness. Start with one of the scenarios above and journal about feelings and thoughts that come up when you think about them. This will bring awareness to it.
Feed your brain with the GOOD stuff!
Next way is to feed your mind. As you become aware you will want to do more to change the story. There are a lot of tools on how to do this. The one method of changing the way things are, is to feed your brain new positive and inspiring ideas every day. Start by listening to inspiring talks or podcasts. For instance, Ted Talks are great for inspiring and filling your mind with possibilities. You can also find a few podcasts on Itunes or Stitcher. By doing this you are retraining your brain to switch into a more optimistic brain rather than defaulting into seeking the negative Impostor talk first. My recommendation is to make this a part of your morning wake-up routine. Get your brain trained from the first moment you wake. And start the first 10,000 thoughts off right. 😉
Find your support team!
Finally, let’s talk about your support. Who has got your back? It is extremely important to surround yourself with people who know you well, are in a similar situation to yours, and have your best interests at heart. This is key for getting through those times when the Impostor can and will show up. Surround yourself with loving and supportive people who can see that you are putting yourself out there, doing something new, and might have times where you are comparing yourself to other’s work which ultimately is taking you off your game. These people can cheer you on, remind you why you took this step in learning or doing something new in the first place, and refocus you back on YOU. This is really necessary as self-love will get you far but not all the way. In other words, find your vibe tribe.
You may never get rid of the voice of the Impostor but the more you work at understanding your thoughts, filling your mind with inspiring guidance and leaning on those who love you, you will begin to see that these impostors that haunt you are NOT who you truly are. And what once was the voice of the Impostor will be replaced with the voice of your Cheerleader. And She/he/they says things like,
“You are doing so well!” “Everything you do looks effortless and flawless.” “You are enough.”