By: Kate Daigle
Imposter Syndrome – What is it and how do we combat feelings of fraudulence?
I hope everyone is doing well during these unique and uncertain times. I imagine that everyone has been impacted in their own way – whether your children are home from school and you’ve now become both a parent and a teacher or you find yourself working from home, converting your living room into office space, just remember – we’re all in this together!
Even though we’ve all had to adapt to a changing world, it’s important that we’re doing as much as we can to keep things as normal as possible for our own health and wellness. What has impacted me the most is seeing everyone’s creative minds at work while being forced to slow down and reflect on the fragility of ours and our loved one’s lives. I’ve heard stories of people utilizing this time to take inventory of their lives, examining their purpose and passions and creating that “thing” they’ve wanted to create for the longest time but never found the time or energy to make it come to fruition.
But something we struggle with is self-examination and honoring our wants and needs, and I think what stands in the way is the incredulous critic of Imposter Syndrome.
This critic finds its way into our worlds, creating thoughts like “I’ll never be good enough”, “I just got lucky this time”, “Everyone else always does much better.”
What this critic doesn’t tell you is that almost everyone experiences these thoughts. The truth is, these thoughts creep into our minds at all stages of life, even when we feel at our most successful.
Take actress Tina Fey, for example. She says “The beauty of the impostor syndrome is you vacillate between extreme egomania and a complete feeling of: “I’m a fraud! Oh God, they’re on to me! I’m a fraud!” So you just try to ride the egomania when it comes and enjoy it, and then slide through the idea of fraud”.
Still not convinced you’re not alone?
Ok – How about actress Jodie Foster? She says “When I won the Oscar, I thought it was a fluke. I thought everybody would find out, and they’d take it back. They’d come to my house, knocking on the door, “Excuse me, we meant to give that to someone else. That was going to Meryl Streep.”
Imposter Syndrome really can anyone and everyone, no matter how successful or famous they are or how confident they appear to be.
Have you been sitting at home thinking, “I’d love to make this month or yearlong dream come to fruition, but I know I don’t have what it takes to make it happen?”
So, what exactly is Imposter Syndrome?
Imposter Syndrome is categorized by feelings of doubt, fraudulence and inferiority. These feelings are generally rooted in beliefs about perfectionism and confidence and disregard times of success, triumph and internal strength and drive. Originally thought to be the internal experience of women, it turns out that Imposter Syndrome does not discriminate against race, age, gender, sexuality, etc and can last throughout our lifespan, despite our greatest accomplishments and successes.
So, how do we conquer our Imposter-y feelings?
I’d be lying to you if I said that I didn’t experience these thoughts and feelings. It happens all of the time.
So here are some of my tips for combatting your feelings of being an “Imposter”:
Find someone who can relate to what you’re feeling. Normalizing these feelings can feel like the greatest relief. Having someone who understands and relates to your experiences can actually boost feelings of confidence.
Consider how you handle experiences of adversity. Do you use these times as learning experiences? Do you find yourself giving up easily and retreating to the incredulous critic? Or do you tell yourself “No matter how many times I have to try, I will try until I’m successful!”?
Challenge your own thinking. Examine times when you don’t feel like an imposter and what’s different about these times? Are you in a different environment or headspace? Maybe it’s a proficiency you feel more confident in.
Reframe Failure. Most people see failure as a character flaw, or as if something is wrong with them personally. But failure is not a bad thing. It is on opportunity. It helps us learn, grow, and develop new ways of being.
Finally, praise the positives! Don’t forget to balance out your feelings of doubt, insecurity and failure with feelings of triumph, success and joy. We feel negatives more intensely. It’s important that we counteract them with more positives.
Take some time to explore this yourself through journaling. Think about how you might experience Imposter Syndrome and which tips would help you feel confident and true to yourself.