Have you ever heard of the imposter syndrome? I hadn’t until fairly recently.
I left college thinking I was pretty thick. I went on to complete a professional accounting qualification. During the time I studied I was told that if your handwriting was messy that you risked failing as the examiner wouldn’t have time to stop and try and interpret your handwriting. My handwriting was neat so I figured that is why I found it so easy to pass. I went on to do another professional qualification, trying to prove that it had all been a bit of a fluke, and passed that too. Then an MBA and gained Chartered Manager status. I still thought I was stupid! It’s cringe making to consider that now. But that was my reality then. I spent years of my career waiting for someone to tap me on the shoulder and say ‘We’ve worked it out, you haven’t got a clue what you’re talking about’!
In sport I decided to attempt an English Channel solo and I found the training so incredibly difficult. I just couldn’t seem to handle it like so many of the others could. I thought I was the only one who felt that way until I wrote a blog about my experiences and received numerous thank yous from people who said they thought that they were the only one who felt that way.
It was pretty recently that I saw this cartoon on LinkedIn and realised that there’s a name for this ‘Imposter Syndrome’. I had no clue that this was even a thing, I genuinely thought that it was only me.
So what is the imposter syndrome and what can you do about it?
Wikipedia describes it like this:
Impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon, impostorism, fraud syndrome or the impostor experience) is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent internalised fear of being exposed as a "fraud". Despite external evidence of their competence, those experiencing this phenomenon remain convinced that they are frauds, and do not deserve all they have achieved. Individuals with impostorism incorrectly attribute their success to luck, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent than they perceive themselves to be.
An estimated 70% of people experience these impostor feelings at some point in their lives, according to a review article published in the International Journal of Behavioral Science. Impostor syndrome affects people from all walks of life..
By now you’re probably either realising that this describes you in at least one context or scenario or are surprised that anyone could fall for this!
What can you do if you suffer with Imposter Syndrome?
For me, the first thing was to realise that this is actually a thing. I found that when I described my feelings I realised that they actually sounded daft and the repair process started.
Another option is to chat with a friend or mentor about it. This helps in a couple of ways - you may find that the person who you thought had it all together has also struggled - you may well help them too; alternatively they could point out the inaccuracies of your account (though of course you may not believe them!). People who struggle with the imposter syndrome often also struggle to ask for feedback, so this may feel uncomfortable. Whilst that means it won’t necessarily be easy, it will be worth it. Feedback is the breakfast for champions.
Most people experience moments of doubt in their life, and that is normal. When that doubt reduces the options you feel that you have and when you don’t see your own strengths, it’s probably time to get more help. I’d like to help ensure that you never feel like an imposter in your own life. Hypnosis can be a powerful tool in the battle towards a more empowered frame of mind.
Contact me now if you want some assistance in dealing with the imposter syndrome in any part of your life.
www.emma2france.com ~ 07702 814690 ~ firstname.lastname@example.org