Imposter syndrome, that sense of not being good enough and the fear of being ‘found out,’ is something we can all relate to. I believe that imposter syndrome is part of our human make-up, it’s in our DNA, we can’t remove it, but we can learn to diminish it, so it doesn’t prevent us from showing up as our best selves.
Imposter syndrome is a particular flavor of lack of self-confidence. It will raise its head in specific situations. Personally, it’s often when I’m doing big talks, or working in the corporate world with a new group of senior managers. It’s also present if I’m in a room of people and I don’t know anyone there.
In my work with countless clients over the years I’ve found that two underlining beliefs (one assumption and one question) fuel imposter syndrome. Whilst strategies and practices we can apply might address symptoms, it’s even more beneficial to unearth the cause.
This is an assumption that we run in so many scenarios. From interviews and presentations at work to social situations and even asking someone out on a date. I label it the great inhibitor. Of course, when we view it rationally, others are not thinking about us as much as we might believe. If I run the pattern that ‘they are, or will judge me negatively,’ in that moment I’m judging ‘them’ negatively, and usually judging myself negatively too. So in reality, I’m the one stuck in negative judgment and I’m projecting my fear-based thinking onto others.
This is the common refrain of imposter syndrome. What if I’m not worthy enough, what if I get found out, and so on. We know what we know, but somehow we will assume that others know more than we do. We are aware of our skills, but we will assume others are more skilled. As I often say, no one is perfect, but we are all perfectly ourselves.
Of course we never actually answer the question – what if I’m not good enough? If you did, what might your answer be? Perhaps something like –‘I’ll give it my best shot, if it doesn’t work out, I might learn something and I’ll move on.’
You can also expand the question into ‘What if I’m not good enough at what, or in which situation?’ This presupposes a comparison. Let’s remember that the only comparison that is ever valid is between our sense of where we are now and our potential.
In part two of this article I’ll share more strategies for overcoming imposter syndrome, but to close, some reflection questions. I find these especially powerful when I feel the familiar rumbles of imposter syndrome.
If you enjoyed this post make sure you listen to episode 111 of my podcast titled Overcoming Imposter Syndrome and do join my community below so that you can receive all my latest news each and every month.