I’ve recently been thinking a lot about  limiting beliefs. Often these are formed in childhood between the ages of 3 and 8 and then show up in later years. One type of limiting belief is  imposter syndrome – I’m going to refer to it as i.s. (let’s not give it too much oxygen!)

i.s. convinces you that you’re not as good or intelligent or talented as you may seem. When you have i.s. you might believe that your achievements have happened because of luck or you were in the right place at the right time. It’s often accompanied by a deep-seated fear that one day somebody will uncover the fact that you’re a fraud. Researcher and author,  Valerie Young  talks about five types  in her book, The Sacred Thoughts of Successful Women http://www.impostersyndrome.com

  1. The Perfectionist who focuses on how something is done. If a perfectionist gets a 99 out of 100, that minor flaw will be a huge problem and signal failure and shame.
  2. The Expert, whose primary concern is on what and how much they know and can do. They expect to know everything. If there’s even a little knowledge gap, they feel failure and shame.
  3. The Soloist, who worries mostly about who’s going to complete the task. For them, it has to be them and them alone. They don’t think they need help, and they like to figure out everything on their own because to them, needing help means failure and shame.
  4. The Natural Genius who cares about how and when accomplishments happen. They value ease and speed if they are struggling to master something or meet a deadline; they feel failure and shame.
  5. The Superwoman, Superman or Super Student, who measures competence on how many roles they can juggle and excel in. When they fall short in any one of the multiple roles that they’ve signed up for, they feel shame and fear because they should, in their minds, be able to handle it all.

There are things that you can do to mitigate the effects of i.s. :

  • Recognise feelings of imposter syndrome  when they emerge,
  • Rewrite your mental programs from “I need to know everything” to “I don’t need to know everything and I’ll find out more as I go along.”
  • Talk about your feelings  with others – you’ll be surprised how many can resonate
  • Remember that we all have moments when we feel less than 100% confident. Reframe your thinking to “just because I feel useless right now, does not mean I  am useless”.
  • Reframe anything you see as “failure” as a learning opportunity – ask for feedback and act on it.
  • Be kind to yourself – remember we all make mistakes sometimes. Did you know that  basketballer Michael Jordan  missed 9,000 shots over his career? He lost 300 games, and on two occasions, he missed the winning shot for his team. He says he has failed repeatedly in his life, and that is why he succeeds.
  • Seek support – don’t try to deal with this alone. Even a laugh with your hairdresser can help to put your feelings into perspective.
  • Keep focused on your overall aims and goals and as authors Carlson and Carlson say,  “don’t sweat the small stuff”.

More coming soon in my book Conscious Grit: the grit that you need to get you unstuck when other grit keeps you stuck – launching later in 2020!