You might have imposter syndrome.
Here are some lessons I learned in taming the imposter.
Imposter Syndrome: What is it?
Early studies into the phenomenon initially focused on successful self-made women in the 70s, but it has since been found anyone can be affected by it, as it is a faulty belief system that we hold to be true about ourselves.
These patterns of self-doubt can lead to anxiety, stress and ultimately burnout from the extra work you put in to try and avoid being ‘found out’. And by very definition, because it is something we fear being found out for, it tends to be something we will suffer in silence from. (on that note, talking about it helps).
Where can it appear?
It isn’t just in our careers that it can appear. It can be as parents, in our relationships or essentially any new situation with perceived pitfalls and opportunities for ‘failure’.
Contrary to what you might think, however, Imposter Syndrome isn’t a sign that you are heading down the wrong path.
Is it logical?
If you actually stop to think about it, if you weren’t ready for the opportunity that is making you feel like an imposter, would that opportunity be presenting itself to you in the first place?
Deep down and logically, you know you have reached where you’ve got to on your own merits, and yet for some reason, there is something inside you saying you don’t deserve to be there. That somehow you’ve tricked all these people into getting to where you have, but you’re bound to be found out eventually.
That something is an unconscious protection mechanism, holding you back from situations it perceives as a threat. We are preprogrammed to look for a sense of control, but when new situations arrive that we haven’t experienced before – a big promotion, having our first child, or a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, our brain has nothing to compare it to and so, therefore, feels out of control, and this signals alarm/anxiety cycle to send you a warning. And this is where the thoughts come into play.
Change your relationship with it.
By understanding that it is a defence mechanism and bringing our awareness to that fact, we can begin to change our mindset and how we react to the feelings it brings.
Try thinking of yourself as a constant learner. A student in the pursuit of knowledge.
‘We are not yet who we are going to be.’
We live, learn and change every day, and so every opportunity is just a chance to take something new onboard and do our best at it.
By remaining humble and having a fascination for small improvements, we can celebrate small changes along the way.
If you take on this mindset, imposter syndrome can’t take up any headspace because mistakes and perceived failure are just part of learning and getting better at something.