Let’s start by clearing something up, it’s not actually a syndrome.
Nor is it an illness or a mental disorder. It’s not linked to low self esteem, depression or anxiety. Imposter Syndrome is actually a very common phenomenon and largely experienced by high achievers. An unpleasant experience, imposter syndrome can leave you with the irrational and unfounded fear that you will be found out as fake or a fraud. Ignoring these negative feelings can cause you to form negative beliefs leading to sabotaging behaviours. If you remain convinced that you do not deserve or are entitled to success you behave in a way that prevents you from achieving your full potential.
Mindset Coaches are trained to help clients identify and isolate unhelpful negative beliefs and thought patterns. Using various coaching methods they support and guide the client towards the solution.
As with all negative and limiting beliefs you may not overcome imposter syndrome overnight. Changing the way we feel and think requires practice, effort and above all patience. There are things, however, that you can do when you begin to doubt your abilities and question your achievements.
“Comparison is the thief of joy” comparing your work, life or success to that of others will only make you unhappy. Unless you have had the same education, upbringing and opportunities and experience you cannot compare like for like. Each individual has strengths and talents and comparing yourself to others is unfair to both them and you. Comparing yourself to others will only add to feelings of inadequacy and anxiety
Neutralise the thoughts – think of a positive for every negative
Practicing mindfulness can make you more aware of your feelings. The next time you experience the anxiety that accompanies the feelings of imposter syndrome, acknowledge them. Take a moment just to check in and see where the feeling is coming from. Some people feel like an imposter because they feel like they are not properly qualified for the job that are doing and worry that someone will “find them out” What is it that you believe you lack? For every negative belief you have counter it with a positive, a reason why you are the right person for the job or a skill or talent that you have that makes you good at what you do.
Speak to people about how you feel
Speaking to someone, a colleague, friend or Coach about how you feel has the dual benefit of not only saying the words out loud but also being able to rationalise them with a trusted confidant. Did it sound ridiculous when you said it aloud? Sharing how you feel with someone instead of internalising all the negative thoughts will often take the power and sting out of them.
Focus on your strengths and identify areas for improvement
List your strengths and weaknesses. What are you good at? What talents and skills do you bring to the table? List and acknowledge these. Make a separate list of areas in which you feel you lack confidence and expertise and think about how you will fill the gaps in your knowledge. Making a plan and taking action will increase your confidence and stimulate feelings of positivity. It is also an effective calming exercise to rationalise instead of maximise your perceived failures.
Own your success
The next time you get great feedback, or a positive testimonial or your client achieves a goal accept it and own it. Recognise that the success or achievement is a result of your combined efforts and skills. Digest and take stock of the evidence that indicates you are actually skilled and successful.
Pursue your goal relentlessly regardless of how you feel.
Confidence is like a flower, the more you feed it and water it the more it grows and thrives. Accept your flaws, forgive yourself for your imperfections and just get your head down and get on with it. Keep going. The more experience you gain, the more skills you acquire the more confident you will become and the less attention you will pay to those self doubting gremlins when they start rearing their heads.
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