If you or someone you know has struggled with this, it could mean you’re perfectly normal (whatever normal is)! Studies tell us around 70% of people experience it.
It might not feel like it, but my take on impostor syndrome is that we are being provided with an opportunity for personal growth.
If we are navigating the high seas of life & prepared to charter unknown waters, we’re likely to experience times when we feel vulnerable.
We are sailing the ship whilst all too aware of the giant seagull flapping above our head!
Perhaps we can reframe the idea of being an impostor.
An ‘impostor’ is someone who pretends to be someone else in order to deceive others for fraudulent gain, like a con-artist.
It is someone who is not being authentic or true to themselves.
Noticing intention here is key.
People I know who experience impostor syndrome are honest, genuine & trustworthy, they want to do a great job & make a difference.
If you believe in what you are doing, TRUST you are in the right place & grow into it.
I have shared 10 strategies below to help you change the inner game, Amanda Green.
I work 121 with many clients who struggle with Impostor Syndrome, the most unlikely candidates too!
Some of them are so charismatic, confident & capable, that you wouldn’t imagine they carry this feeling around with them.
We all have parts of ourselves to work on, at least when we are consciously aware of them then we can start to work on the inner game. That brings strength, courage & inner peace.
Strategy 1: Hello Old Friend!
The first stage is to recognise & accept that it exists in the moment it presents itself.
It’s not really your friend but it can be your teacher.
Try not to usher it straight out the door when thoughts of imposterdome enter the mind…what we resist persists!
These thoughts are sneaky, especially if they have been around for a while….they will find a way to slip in through the back door or cat flap if you supress them and don’t get to work on them.
Get comfortable with the uncomfortable (it’s a bit like perching on a stool at a breakfast bar – nobody likes them for any length of time but they are still in the room)!
Notice the thought, observe it. Acknowledge it BUT know that you don’t have to believe it!
It’s the ego’s way of trying to keep you safe & stopping you from taking risks because you are stretching out of the comfort zone.
Thank it for showing up, reassure it there’ s no need for concern. You are simply embracing an opportunity to grow.
FLIP it! Empower yourself by choosing to be grateful for the opportunities to develop. Your emotional guidance system is asking you to heal.
This worry has presented itself because you are stepping up in the world. How wonderful!
Trust that all we can ever do is give it our best shot & give ourselves a chance. We all deserve to.
Strategy 2: I Feel It In My Fingers!
Thanks Marti Pellow 😊 If you’re not as old as me, you will have to look that musical reference up! However, it’s not key to understanding the next concept!
There is no disconnection between the mind & body.
To begin to master our emotions means we also need to get physical (thanks Olivia Newton John for your spandex inspired smash hit)!
Notice what happens in your body when feelings of imposter syndrome surge.
We can get tense in the neck/shoulders, our chest can tighten & the breath can become short & shallow.
The jaw can clench, blood pressure can rise & we may feel a churning sensation in the stomach to name a few.
Start to become aware of these sensations & sit with them (remember that bar stool….getting comfortable with the uncomfortable)!
Once you can recognise it, you can work on it.
Relax those tense areas, calm your breathing, deep long breaths from the diaphragm, stop wearing your shoulders as earrings (they don’t go with your outfit!), loosen your jaw, unclench your hands/fingers.
Allow the feeling to wash over you as you practice calming the body.
These feelings are trapped energetically and a cognitive approach will only get you so far.
We always have the power of choice so give yourself chance to get into a good state of mind (& body!) before you take your next action.
Strategy 3: Mind Your Own Beeswax!
That’s right! Other people’s opinions are really none of your business and they are personal to them, not to you. Let them have them….they will anyway!!
It is not your concern. I do a lot of work around projection which would be useful to understand if you have challenges with particular people/relationships.
Yes of course, as humans we love a bit of recognition, however, there is a balance. Self-worth really comes from the inside.
We are taught to seek validation externally but if that’s the source of our strength & self-worth, it leaves us at the mercy of everyone else and it makes it temporary. It’s not healthy or sustainable.
We have no control over what other people think. We can only control our own actions & thoughts about ourselves.
Trying to control others is a full time ‘drive yourself mad’ occupation & wastes a huge amount of energy that serves nobody & could be put to much better use.
When you change your relationship with yourself & work on yourself, not only will you gain incredible inner strength but you will positively impact the dynamics within all relationships & encounters.
Practice NOT thinking about what other people are thinking (you can still be considerate of course) & focus your mind energy on something that will support you, learn something new, get engaged in your work, get focused.
Strategy 4: Gut Instinct:
The gut is the largest sensory organ in our body. It knows the answers, it knows what is good for you, it knows your truth & will always tell you.
However, the inner chimp brain is louder! Listening to the chimp creates fear….. that’s the idea! It wants you to feel scared so that you can stay alive.
Following your gut instinct over your chimp brain allows you to take action despite the presence of fear.
If you feel like you are on a never ending quest for confidence, don’t wait for it to show up any more, it’s always late to the party.
Confidence is like the friend who lives the closest to you but is never on time! When they do arrive, they bring lots of prosecco & cheer & they make you feel good but we can’t wait for them!
Confidence comes with practice. Choose courage instead.
Courage allows you to take action & to forge ahead with space for the confidence to appear when it has straightened it’s hair!
Imposter syndrome is fear based.
Breathe deeply into your stomach, learn to trust your gut instinct, tune out of fear & focus on how you can be yourself and remain present in the moment.
Strategy 5: Raise Your Vibration & Put the Doubt Out!
This is one of my favourite phrases & if you read my stuff, you will know I talk about this often!
It’s critical when experiencing impostor syndrome. Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.
We know that to be happy & live a balanced life, we have to put fuel in the tank! It’s easy to become a slave to work, there will always be more we can do!
However, it’s no good if you are not looking after the one thing that makes it all possible – YOU! Raise self-worth & out the doubt!
What do you do regularly that makes you feel amazing & keeps you energised?
Who do you spend time with who lifts your spirits, fills you with confidence or makes you laugh til your jaw hurts? You can’t feel fear & laugh at the same time btw!
Take time for yourself, even just something small every day to release more of those feel good hormones & help you stay balanced & grounded.
Just like a proper cup of tea, it will make everything a bit better.
Strategy 6: Change Your Tune!
Our subconscious doesn’t discriminate, it does not know the difference between reality & our imagination!
It will accept EXACTLY what we give it! We forget this but our thoughts literally ARE our reality.
If we believe in any way that something will hold us back, it sure as hell will. We will get what we wish for.
What do you want to believe?
Start thinking about that, write it down, get it into your head, over & over again. I have great techniques for this.
Start appreciating yourself & your skills & being truly grateful for them, NOT dismissive. You have gifts.
Acknowledge them REGULARLY so you can stop keeping them to yourself & truly start sharing them with others.
Ensure all the action you take & the words you say (to yourself & others) have positive intentions.
Notice how you speak to yourself. Would you kiss your mother with that mouth……??!!
When you make comments to yourself, check your language.
If we want to feel at our best, confident, competent & able then we have got to start feeding ourselves with quality, helpful info.
Strategy 7: Be of Service!
Experiencing impostor syndrome means you are highly likely to want to deliver & do a really fantastic job.
This could bring feelings of excitement but often we misuse our imagination & turn to thoughts of worry.
A great way to make a shift here is to be of service.
Take the focus away from yourself & ask how you can best serve others. This could be someone in your team, it could be a client or it could be your family.
Ask yourself, how can you best serve others right now?
What can you do to genuinely help someone else & make a positive difference
The very act of being kind to others (when genuine & not for personal gain or the expectation for it to be reciprocated) releases oxytocin into our system (warm, fuzzy feelings) #yeahbaby.
More of that please, much better internal chemistry than a cocktail of cortisol & adrenaline thanks!
Strategy 8: Control the Controllables
….as a wise man called Winston once said.
Just so we are clear, I am not referring to the wierd boy child doll that Jack Whitehall’s father takes on holiday! Think nodding dog…..Churchill, that’s the one!
How do we control the controllables then?!
We have to do that thing people don’t like doing called, letting go!! Eugh, there, I said it & I know you are not keen!!
Control is an illusion!
The only thing we can really truly control (other than budgets) is yes, you guessed it…….how we take care of ourselves!
Trying to ascertain a 100% guaranteed outcome over anything only leads to anxiety. We have to learn to go with the flow at times.
We have to learn to trust ourselves & others. Even if it’s not perfect. Good enough is often good enough. Yes you heard that right & it’s coming from a recovering perfectionist!
Focus on what you are learning every day.
Focus on the elements that you have control over.
Don’t lose your energy to things that you cannot control.
Streamline your energy & efforts, take pride & enjoyment in your part to play.
Release the rest & surrender!
Can you begin to appreciate challenges as an opportunity to develop your personal strength & skills?
You can only control your perception, reaction, response, not the actual situation in many cases. This is where the gold is!!
Strategy 9: Comparison & Judgement
Comparing ourselves to others is normal & it can be healthy if it helps us to identify where we want to be.
It can become unhealthy when it builds resentment & strengthens the inner victim.
It’s OK if you don’t have the same experience as leaders in your field (some of them will have imposter syndrome too btw!), it’s OK if you don’t have the same qualifications, it’s OK if you don’t feel as calm & collected as they look.
It’s OK to be YOU! In fact, it’s really the only person we can be…..otherwise we will be an actual impostor!
We can only walk in our own shoes, we don’t really know what is going on in other people’s lives or heads, we only know what they present.
Envy and comparison actually carries significant helpful messages for us, I do quite a bit of work on this 121 too.
There will always be someone doing ‘better’ than us or someone doing much ‘worse’ but it doesn’t matter because we are each on our own journey & it’s OURS to own, learn from and develop.
I imagine the original purpose for judgement was to keep us safe. A survival mechanism to ‘judge’ whether something or someone was ‘safe’ and whether it/they are ‘like us’ or familiar.
Judgement however, can also keep us TRAPPED in negative cycles & prevents change by also being judgemental of ourselves (the inner critic).
If you can be judgemental, you will likely find you are also self-critical. It’s a tough house to live in with so many rules you have made for yourself or inherited from others.
This can lead to having high and possibly unrealistic expectations of ourselves and it is a fear state.
Notice your judgements quickly & change them into something more positive or observe & be interested in where it comes from & whether it makes sense.
This takes constant effort but it is liberating!
Strategy 10: Acknowledge Your Natural Strengths & Skills!
Be grateful for your own strengths & skills!
It’s common in impostor syndrome to dismiss your own talent & put your wins down to flukes/ good timing/other people etc. STOP THAT NOW PLEASE!
Modesty is admirable but not when it morphs into self-rejection.
If you believe in what you are doing & want to be able to talk about it with passion & conviction, you have to appreciate what YOU bring to the table.
If you are the first one to boost someone else & help them feel good about themselves, then don’t deny yourself the same courtesy.
That is like saying you don’t need it or deserve it which is not true and it’s just a rubbish belief.
Write a list of all your accomplishments from passing your driving test onwards.
Next to each achievement, note what you personally did to prepare for it, execute it, support it & celebrate it!
Writing kicks the pre-frontal cortex (the emotionally intelligent part of our brain) into action so it makes absolute sense to invite it to this page party!
For further support and empowerment, feel free to get in touch.
Good Vibes, Amanda G