Imposter syndrome is something I struggle daily with. When I heard Rebecca from Pop Your Career’s take on it at a recent workshop, I just HAD to get her to share with you Lovelies …
Imposter syndrome. These two words have been floating around the internet at an increased speed lately. They’ve also become part of my everyday vocabulary in my career coaching practice. I’m not even exaggerating. There is literally not a day that goes by without me mentioning imposter syndrome and talking about its effects.
So, what is happening? Does all this increased talk mean that imposter syndrome is becoming more prevalent? I don’t think so. I believe that we’re just starting to become more aware of it. We’re starting to open a dialogue about it. And we’re starting to acknowledge that perhaps we’re not alone in the way we’ve been feeling about ourselves and our capabilities.
I want to share a quote with you. It’s actually a quote from me, which I think is fitting, given that I’m using it to demonstrate how I feel about imposter syndrome!
Imposter syndrome is a beast that doesn’t discriminate. We all have imposter syndrome to a degree and although we can learn to manage it, it can’t be cured. – Bec McFarland
Now that you know my thoughts on the matter, let’s take a step backwards and start at the beginning.
I’ve heard of imposter syndrome. But what is it?
Imposter syndrome happens when you start to doubt your abilities and achievements. Because of this self-doubt (and often the associated negative self-talk), you start to feel like a fraud or feel like you don’t belong. Often I hear my clients say things like:
• “I worry that I’m not qualified enough to take the next step; perhaps I need to go back to study.”
• “I don’t think I’m ready – I just don’t have enough experience.”
• “I didn’t do it well enough. I know I could have done better.”
• “I’m worried the people at work will think I don’t work hard enough.”
• “I don’t know enough about it. What if someone asks me a question and I can’t answer it?”
• “I’m not applying for the job because I don’t meet enough of the criteria.”
• “I feel like I don’t belong here; I’m not pretty/professional/intelligent/young enough.”
Do you notice a pattern here? A theme? What is the common denominator?
Enough. Enough. Enough.
I almost wish we could remove this word from the dictionary, although I know we’d just replace it with something equally as sinister. Whenever I hear one of my clients say the word, “enough”, I see it as a red flag or a trigger to investigate and explore further. After all, that single word is often an indicator that imposter syndrome is rearing its ugly head.
It’s this realisation that sparked my habit of gifting the book, You Are Enough by Cassie Mendoza-Jones to all of my new coaching clients (and anyone else I come across who is struggling under the weight of the imposter syndrome beast). It has become mandatory reading for anyone who wants to coach with me, because it helps to reframe the word “enough” and turn it into a positive.
Another book I highly recommend is Playing Big by Tara Mohr. I love the way she describes the inner critic and the inner mentor. I think of this as the typical cartoon angel and devil who sit on opposite shoulders telling you how to behave.
If we can’t cure it, what can we do about it?
Well, there are loads of strategies for dealing with imposter syndrome. We can dive into your limiting beliefs. We can work on retraining your mind to change your thoughts and feelings. We can crowd out imposter syndrome with love, confidence and accomplishment. We can reframe your negative self-talk and connect with positive affirmation. We can change your language, step outside your comfort zone, utilise Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT/Tapping) or even Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). I could go on and on. But what I want you to focus on today, is conversation.
Remember when I said we’re starting to acknowledge that perhaps we’re not alone in the way we’ve been feeling about ourselves and our capabilities? This is an important piece of the puzzle. By talking about imposter syndrome with your friends, family and work colleagues, you are shining a light on this beast, who prefers to huddle in the darkness. Yes, you may need to get vulnerable and share some of your inner thought patterns, but by doing so, you’ll encourage others to do so as well. And the more you do that the less alone you’ll feel.
Here’s my challenge to you.
Within the next 24 hours, I want you to get in contact with one of your nearest and dearest. Someone you trust to support you. I then want you to open up a conversation about your own imposter syndrome challenges. Let your friend know how you’ve been feeling. Ask them if they’ve ever felt a similar way, or if they can relate to what you’re describing. Talk about your fears or concerns about the feelings you’ve been experiencing. Remind each other of your achievements. Take solace in the fact that you aren’t alone.
Having a conversation with someone you care about might seem like a small and insignificant step. But just like any problem or challenge, the first step to managing imposter syndrome, is acknowledging it exists. Have faith that this is part of the process and that once you start feeling more and more comfortable talking about your imposter syndrome, the more open you’ll be to using more in depth techniques to overcome it.
Bec McFarland is a Career Coach, Speaker, Resume Writer, DISC Consultant and the proud owner of Pop Your Career. Bec is committed to spreading her message, that career advice doesn’t have to be boring and career fulfilment is definitely not out of reach. To find out more information about Bec, you can visit her website or find her on Facebook or Instagram. If you’re located in Canberra, you might want to join Bec for her upcoming workshop about imposter syndrome, I AM NOT A FRAUD., which is being held on 13 April 2019. Tickets are available here.