How to Deal with Imposter Syndrome

Mon - 7 Feb 2022


‘I don’t know what I’m doing.’ I’m not who they think I am.’ ‘I’m a fraud.’ ‘I’m good at faking it.’ ‘I’m going to be found out’ Ever had any of those thoughts?


Can you relate?


It wasn’t until I was in my fifties, that I came across the term imposter syndrome. It wasn’t until recently, last week, that I watched a YouTube discussion between two people who have imposter syndrome that I realised there is something that you can do about it!


I would like to share what I learned.


Let me start by quoting Dr. Rachel Zoffness. ‘… Imposter syndrome happens during times of human growth. It’s actually a sign of success. It’s a sign that you’re stepping out of your comfort zone. You’re challenging and pushing yourself.‘


Who do you think you are?


Whenever I think of that phrase I’m immediately transported back to someone reporting something they’d heard someone say about me. ’Who does she think she is? She needs to be taken down a peg or two.’


Harsh.


Looking back on that, I wonder why that person told me what she had heard. Maybe because she didn’t like that person - ok I suspect hated them intensely - and wanted to provoke that same animosity in me. The result was an intense period of imposter syndrome that made me very unhappy.


Was it kind? Was it necessary?


The thing is, it ignited that flame of self-doubt that lurked in me - and I suspect lurks in all of us. And the fire burned stronger with every decision I faced, until even small decisions became tortuous events where I fought myself over which way to turn.


The thing is, I was already vulnerable. And that’s the point here. If you are in a position of confidence, self-assuredness with established self-worth and self-esteem you have resilience. I was not. And having imposter syndrome - which I had no understanding of at the time - certainly doesn’t help.


Imposter syndrome often appears when good things are happening in your life.


I was new in the job. I was good at my job. I was full of enthusiasm and new ideas. I believed I could bring something fresh. All the things you would think would be an asset. And they would be if I was in a different place. I’m sure this is a familiar situation and shared by many.


Steps to deal with imposter syndrome


Acknowledge it
Externalise it
Reframe it

The first step to dealing with imposter syndrome, is to identify what you are feeling and name it. To recognise it for what it is. Put simply, it is a way of thinking. These unhelpful phrases, this story, that we are telling ourselves if not only unhelpful it is most probably untrue.


Next, understand that this occurs most commonly when you are facing a new challenge in your life - a new job, a new position, a new venture. I suppose you could say you are out of your comfort zone. Tell yourself, ‘This is scary. I’m unsure I can do this. But I’m feeling this because I’m doing (or about to do) something that is challenging and important to me ’


Then, change your thinking. This will take practice and will probably not come easily at first. When you’re having an imposter syndrome episode it means you are moving forward with your life. You’re stretching yourself a little bit. You are growing and succeeding. It often happens to people who are high achieving. Feel proud that you are pushing yourself to do something that is making you feel uncomfortable, facing your fear and doing it anyway.


Know that if you have imposter syndrome you will most likely always have it. It may remain dormant for much of the time but it will come back to haunt you.


If we resist doing anything about it, it will persist.










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