Maybe you are like me, maybe not.
Do you have times when you think, “Can I really do this?” Or maybe this has crossed your mind, “If they only knew I don’t know what I’m doing?”. “I am never going to be good enough to accomplish this.”
We worry about not being good enough even though we may have evidence to the contrary. We illogically ignore that evidence and continue thinking we're not as good as everyone else.
“I still have a little imposter syndrome… It doesn’t go away, that feeling that you shouldn’t take me that seriously. What do I know? I share that with you because we all have doubts in our abilities, about our power and what that power is.” -Michelle Obama
If you’ve never had these thoughts, I’d encourage you to dream bigger. We can tend to dream in the comfortable zone, rather than dip our toe in the uncomfortable and often unknown. An analogy that might work: It’s easier to stay in your warm, cozy bathrobe at home than it is to put on a sexy, revealing outfit and attend a function where you know no one.
Maybe you’ve heard the term Imposter Syndrome. (Originally, it was called Imposter Phenomenon.) The studies of this syndrome have been around for many years, but lately, they are getting much attention. I’m torn with my thinking about this label. It seems we must label everything and then we own the condition that the label invokes. But that topic is for another time.
I’d like to suggest that imposter syndrome can be beneficial. It can signal that we are reaching for a dream or goal that is bigger than any we have attempted before. Perhaps we are undertaking a new job or career, and there are aspects that we have never done before.
Additionally, I’d suggest if we are constantly on the merry-go-round of imposter syndrome thinking, then we are focused on the wrong thing. Rather than focusing on the goal, task, dream, or value we can add, we are focusing on ourselves.
“The greatest obstacle for me has been the voice in my head that I call my obnoxious roommate. I wish someone would invent a tape recorder that we could attach to our brains to record everything we tell ourselves. We would realize how important it is to stop this negative self-talk. It means pushing back against our obnoxious roommate with a dose of wisdom.” - Arianna Huffington
So, how do we overcome this imposter syndrome thing?
Here are some suggestions that have worked for me and my clients. If you have others that have worked for you, please drop them in the comments! I would love to hear what others have tried.
Think about and answer the Byron Katie questions:
Is it true?
Can you absolutely know that it’s true?
How do you react when you believe that thought?
Who would you be without the thought?
If you haven’t read her book, I highly suggest it. The book is: Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life and can be found at most booksellers.
Consider where you are focusing your attention. Is your focus on the stories you are telling yourself or your goal/dream/task etc.? If it’s on yourself, I’d refer you back to the four questions above.
Reframe your thoughts. “These thoughts I’m having are a sign I am growing.” “Is the discomfort I am feeling now worth staying the same?”
Connect with others and talk about your feelings. You will find most people, if not all, are having or have experienced imposter syndrome.
Be ok with messy and imperfect. Many people who have these limiting beliefs are perfectionists. (There we go, adding another label.) Just do it.
It’s ok to have an imposter moment, just don’t make it an everlasting moment!