Impostor Syndrome: Am I enough?
“Instead of thinking “why me” change your thinking to “why NOT me”
Ever had that feeling where you are sat at work in an important meeting, making an important decision and thinking ‘How the hell did I get here?” I am not clever enough, I am not capable enough and I am not worthy of this position.
Throughout life, we are often hit with a sudden feeling of self-doubt! Self-doubt can have a devastating effect and sabotage our ability to move forward and progress.
In modern society this way of thinking is still an instinct and it’s a prevalent part of our DNA; for men and women the imprints left on us from 1000's of years ago ultimately shape our purposes and the thoughts and feelings around it; Does that mean it’s right – NO?
Mirror mirror on the wall am I worthy of this all?
It is no surprise that Impostor syndrome affects over 70% of women at some point in their career.
IMPOSTOR syndrome often comes with thoughts of:
Am I good enough?
I am just lucky?
I don’t deserve to be in this position?
Recognizing you have Impostor Syndrome is the first step in being able to handle the niggling feelings of self-doubt and internal criticism.
Let’s take a look at what Impostor Syndrome really looks like;
Real Impostor - A person pretending to have experience, skills or qualifications to obtain the position they hold or want to apply for.
Impostor Feelings - Feeling you are an impostor, even though there is no evidence to suggest you are. The feelings pass with time and you do not act or dwell on them.
IMPOSTOR Syndrome - Daily thoughts and feelings you are an impostor even though there is NO evidence to suggest you are. The feelings are overwhelming and affect your confidence within the workplace.
If you can identify what you are experiencing is actually Impostor Syndrome you can choose to listen to the thoughts and feelings or choose to ignore them and promote opposite actions/thoughts.
If you think ‘I don’t deserve this position’, counteract the thought with ‘I have worked hard to be where I am and deserve to be here’. Over time your brain learns the new thought pattern, this, of course, takes self-discipline.
The Famous Five
When it comes to Impostor Syndrome many of my clients fall into one of the five categories;
Once I have identified which one my client falls into, I give them tools and advice on how they can handle their inner critic. Keep reading to see which one you fall into and how YOU can be helped
For now, check out this example of The Perfectionist Impostor Syndrome;
One of my high achieving clients, let’s call her Nancy, is a typical type A perfectionist. Nancy sets herself and everyone around her very high expectations, she never allows herself to make mistakes. We are all human so inevitably errors happen, but when Nancy makes a mistake she will berate herself for hours afterward. This thought pattern then leads her to feel like she is not good enough or worthy enough to be in her position.
Impostor Syndrome has worked its way into Nancy’s work life leading to low self-esteem and lack of confidence. When you are a high achieving women these are all thoughts you can really do without - right?
Identify, Accept and Rectify
As I have said, identifying which of the five you fall into can help you implement tools to keep that Imposter quiet!
Check out the below to see which of the Famous Five you are and how you can help yourself feel enough, worthy and fully deserving of where you are in your career and even LIFE.
You hate making errors, have high expectations, hate not reaching goals or targets, like control and constantly berate yourself if your fail or make mistakes.
What to do: Learn to celebrate small achievements, taking mistakes in your stride and remind yourself no one is perfect.
Positive mantra; ‘I am only human’ OR ‘Not everything has to be perfect’. I particularly like thinking ‘Perfect is the enemy of Good.’
You always work late, push yourself hard, you get stressed when you are not working and you have lost interest in anything other than work, work, work. You also need constant validation and seek approval and seem to take things personally.
What to do: Nurture your internal validation and create some compassion for yourself. Recognize outside validation is not needed. As you recognize your own achievements, you will naturally seek more downtime from working so hard.
Positive mantra; ‘I do not need outside approval’ OR ‘Working harder does not mean I am better, I am enough’.
If you are a natural genius, you work quickly and hate taking your time, your internal expectations are incredibly high and if you do not measure up you are overwhelmed with shame. You may have a high academic history and you are used to being told how smart you are.
What to do: Ease off yourself. Sit back and make an effort to take your time on a project. Ask for help when you need it.
Positive mantra; ‘I can be effective and take my time’ OR ‘I am enough just as I am’
You dislike asking for help feel shame or stupid when you have to seek outside help. You like to control meetings and projects. You hate being part of a team and never feel enough in team environments.
What to do: Force yourself to work in a team and believe your contribution will be valid.
Positive mantra; ‘Asking for help is not weak’ OR ‘What I have to say is enough’
You measure yourself on how much you know, you will not apply for a position unless you meet every single requirement or qualification and you hate being called an expert.
What to do: Showing vulnerability to colleagues by asking for help will help break down negative thought patterns.
Positive mantra; ‘I do not have to be an expert at everything’ OR ‘I am great at my job’.
Get to know yourself better
Imposter Syndrome is based on thoughts and feelings. Remember, you do not have to act on and you can actively choose to do or think the opposite.
Changing your internal critic will take time and self-discipline, constantly reminding yourself of your abilities and having some self-compassion goes a long way when it comes to dumbing down that Impostor.
Impostor Syndrome is a real deal, but it does not have to be the final deal.