Impostor Syndrome is one of the terms that gets thrown around a great deal these days. Before we can slay that dragon, we first have to know what it is. Wikipedia defines it as
Impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon, fraud syndrome or the impostor experience) is a psychological pattern in which people doubt their accomplishments and have a persistent, often internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud”. The term was coined in 1978 by clinical psychologists Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes. Despite external evidence of their competence, those exhibiting the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved. Proof of success is dismissed as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be.
Impostor syndrome is easy to spot. It’s that feeling that you are not quite good enough. That somehow you have arrived at the position you’re in as a fluke, a stroke of luck. It is the fear that one day you will be discovered for the fake you are.
Even though impostor syndrome is not considered a mental illness, it is often accompanied by anxiety, stress, and depression. In my case my anxiety feeds it and it feeds my anxiety. It is an endless loop in my head telling me things like:
“Why would anyone read anything you write?”
“If you were any good you would have 50 million page views a month.”
“She just left that comment so you would leave one on her post”
“So Ms. Magna Cum Laude, you can’t even get a chapter finished. And that 25-year-old college dropout already has 6 books published.”
It can be confused with negative self-talk but it is different. Negative self-talk is more like:
He would never go out with someone like you. You are too fat to wear that. You are so dumb.
Impostor syndrome is that feeling like you are putting on an act. It’s like you are telling people you are a smart intelligent writer but really deep down inside you’re not. You’re just faking it or as we used to say frontin’ pretending to be something you’re not. Now stay with me folks, here is the real kicker…
You are not faking it! You just think you are!
If you are feeling like this guess what. You are not alone because 70% of people suffer from imposter syndrome at some point and the ones who suffer the most are the ones who have no reason to.
Change the Voice in Your Head
Stop listening to that voice that calls you a fraud and begin listening to the voice that knows how hard you have worked to get were you are. Reframe your thoughts and realize the truth. You have to stop thinking like an impostor. Listen to the voice that says:
You have achieved the position you are in through hard work and dedication.
You earned the position because you are the best person for the job.
People like your work because you are a good writer, artist, accountant, mother.
Make a Ta-Da List
Everyone makes a to-do list but very few people make a ta-da list. What is a ta-da list you ask? It is a list of your accomplishments for the day. It doesn’t have to be elaborate it can be small things that make you feel good. Small goals you have reached like walking 2 miles or big ones like getting a promotion. On the tough days, getting out of bed and getting dressed can be an accomplishment so put them on your list. It’s your list you can write what you want.
Keep them in a notebook or folder so that at the end of the month or year you can look back and see everything you have accomplished. You will be surprised at how much you have really done.
Look at the Facts
Give yourself a dose of reality. When you start feeling like you do not belong here take an objective look at that statement. What makes you not worthy of being here? Do you think someone else is more deserving? Why? You have all the qualifications (list them) and you have put in the work to get here so what exactly is holding you back?
Are you afraid to fail? Are you afraid someone will discover you? Are you afraid you won’t be perfect? Are you afraid of the sky falling on your head? Are you afraid that you just might actually be good enough? Are you afraid that you just might put all your talent to work? Are you afraid you might actually be a big success?
TIME TO GET REAL
Call out False Evidence for what it is. LIES! Replace it with TRUTH and rise above your FEAR!Click To Tweet
Stop Comparing Yourself to Others
We spend way to much time comparing ourselves to others. Our current obsession with social media feeds into our need to keep up with the Joneses. We spend hours each day wondering “what if” and thinking “if only“.
Facebook – What if I had married ____look at the house I could be living in right now.
Instagram – If only I could travel the world and take photos my life would be wonderful.
Youtube – If only I was ______ I would have tons of followers.
Twitter – What if I had that great life ________ has?
Instead of bringing us closer together, social media acts as more advertising of what your life could be should be, would be if only you bought this, owned that, or ate there. Enough! What you need to realize when you are looking at social media and comparing yourself to all these people is that you are only seeing a small part of their life. Think about it. Do you post a picture of yourself when you are sick with the flu hanging over the toilet on Instagram? No, and no one else does either. Do you post a video of the house when it’s a wreck and the kids are out of control and all you can do is sit in the middle of the floor and cry? Neither do they. What we all post is the dream version of what we hope our lives are.
Social Media is not reality and Photoshop makes us all look perfect. Oh, and you know that fancy car and big house, yeah it's not even his. Click To Tweet
When you compare yourself to someone else you are saying that somehow they are more worthy than you. You are saying that their life has more value. You are saying that everything you have done in your life amounts to nothing. Is that true? Hell, no it’s not!
You are just as worthy and have just as much right as anyone else does to be here.
You know what’s the real kicker? That person you are comparing yourself to is looking at your social media and saying the same thing about you. That person in the next office is sitting there wondering if someone will discover they are a fraud too. That person at the grocery store that sees you and your kids on a good day is saying ‘if only my kids were that well behaved’. She has no idea that yesterday the kids were so bad that you actually sat in the car and contemplated running away.
No one’s life is perfect even though we all try to make it look that way. Everyone is going through stuff that we have no idea about. As a matter of fact, as I am sitting here writing this, I have a cut off notice for my water bill and my electric. Not sure how it’s going to get paid but I have faith it will and you know what. I’m not sitting here wasting time thinking ‘if only I had a million page views a month I could pay my bill”. I probably could but right now that doesn’t help me. What does help me right now is, living my truth, fully aware that generations have gone through so much struggle just so I could arrive at this moment in my life. What gives me hope is that the right person will see this post and be helped.