Last week I went to a wellbeing session on Imposter Syndrome run by a women’s network. The generally accepted definition of Imposter Syndrome is:
“a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent internalized 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. While early research focused on the prevalence among high-achieving women, impostor syndrome has been recognized to affect both men and women equally.”
Glad we cleared up this is not a women only thing!
The room was full, with everyone identifying at some level or other with this definition. Our speaker, a self-confessed sufferer, easily put everyone at ease with her humor and vulnerable storytelling. You are not alone and there’s nothing wrong with you for falling into imposterish thoughts. The session went on to run through a few quick techniques to shift oneself out of the imposter spiral and into a more confident and empowered state. Great….
So why did I feel such a sense of frustration?
All of these techniques were aimed at exposing the imposterism by critically assessing what the individual has achieved, their capability, the perceptions of others and moving to first steps. All of this is great and will help tremendously in the moment. My frustration is that the ‘solutions’ offered all amounted to a heck of a lot of effort to continually be cycling round techniques to quieten the imposter inside. The imposter is still there, lurking, and will be back.
What if Imposter Syndrome IS THE Imposter? What if all of this focus on the behaviour and ‘managing’ this ‘condition’ is actually entrenching us further into believing we have a problem that needs managing?
What our thoughts focus on is what we get back in the world. Plus the unconscious mind doesn’t process a negative well. So focus too heavily on ‘not being an imposter’ and you’ll become more so.
So what instead?
Well my first question to you is what is imposter syndrome anyway? Where does it come from?
Beliefs. Limiting beliefs. Beliefs about who we are. Beliefs that are unlikely to be true but because we believe them, we treat them like truths. Beliefs like:
I am bad
I’m not wanted/needed/shouldn’t be here
I am rubbish/useless
I’m not good enough
I am worthless
Dig a bit deeper and it will be a set of beliefs that drive the imposterism, and it’s at this deepest level where I work with clients. Because these deep level beliefs can be kicked out permanently and replaced with liberating, true ones. When your beliefs about yourself are liberating, kind and true, there’s no room for the imposter. It can’t take hold as you know you are capable and deserving, choosing and creating your results in the world.
Doesn’t that sound good?
If you identify with imposter syndrome and are looking for a solution which fully moves you beyond it, drop me a line.
I know I can help you because once upon a time I was an imposter…. And I’ve worked with multiple clients who feared the same. And don’t anymore.