Have you ever asked yourself, “Who am I to be doing this?” or “Is my work good enough?” even when your clients are telling you how awesome you are? You are not alone. What you’re feeling is known as Imposter Syndrome, and it’s much more commonplace than you might think.
The Birth of Imposter Syndrome
The term “Imposter Syndrome” was first used in 1978 by Pauline Rose Clance and Suzanne Imes in their study of 150 highly successful professional women. The study found that despite accolades from their colleagues, and despite having advanced in both rank and salary, many of them felt like imposters, attributing their successes to outside factors such as luck. They weren’t able to attribute their achievements to their talent or skills and understandably felt fearful about performing well in the future.
Since that time many others have studied the phenomenon and have found that it still endures today. Even celebrities who’ve been nominated or have won prestigious awards experience Imposter Syndrome. Michele Pfeiffer, who has a vast body of Award-nominated work, has admitted to feelings of self-doubt and worrying that one day, people will realize that she’s not all that talented. Kate Winslet has also admitted to moments of fear and to feeling as if her talents are “a sham.”
It’s Not a “Woman” Thing
Once thought to be a condition strictly afflicting women, subsequent studies have found that men suffer from Imposter Syndrome as well, although in smaller numbers.Oddly enough, the syndrome affects mainly high-achievers who have found real success in their fields.
How about that? We are high-achieving, go-getting badasses! Naturally, the condition can feel like a challenging and debilitating roadblock to happiness and fulfillment, but here are a few real strategies that can help you learn how to overcome Imposter Syndrome:
Seek support by discussing your feelings with a trusted friend, mentor or colleague. Because Imposter Syndrome is so prevalent, if other high-achieving women surround you, some of them are likely to be feeling the same as you. In fact, every accomplished woman I’ve ever met has felt this way at times. It’s important to remember that you are not alone.
Awareness is the first step to change. Become conscious of your thoughts when you find yourself feeling inadequate or fraudulent. Are there certain triggers that bring on these ideas? Perhaps it’s a client that isn’t the right fit for your business or certain tasks that just make you uncomfortable. Remember that there doesn’t have to be a justification for the way you are feeling.
Simply track the situations, people, and things that make you feel as if you are an imposter. Once you can identify the situations, people, or things that cause you to don the imposter disguise, you’re in the optimal position to change your story about yourself.
Question Your Thoughts
Question those often automatic thoughts and challenge them. Create a mantra for yourself. Remember Stuart Smalley from SNL? His mantra was “I’m good enough. I’m smart enough. And doggone it, people like me.” Create something similar but perhaps not as corny! Something like, “I’m on the path to success with grit and determination. Nothing will stop me, especially not fear.” I’ll share mine. It’s “F*ck fear! Right…in..the..face!” That’s it–and it works for me.
Pat Yourself On The Back
Acknowledge your wins, frequently and often, no matter if they are big or small. This is a big one in putting Imposter Syndrome back in its cage, which is where it belongs. You can do this without becoming arrogant or self-centered. You can do this simply because it’s true. You did reach a particular goal, you did get that promotion, you did receive that atta-gal from your boss. When you win these wins, feel them. Relish them. Exult in them. You’ve earned accolades because they reflect your value to yourself and the work you’ve created. Make sure that you are celebrating yourself.
I’ve always admired people that wear their accomplishments on their sleeve. They ooze self-confidence and self-assurance. Those qualities are magnetic, drawing people to them. Do you think Bethenny Frankel has self-doubt? Of course, she does, but she also knows that she works hard for what she has accomplished, and she knows her shit.
Do a reality check
It’s important to realize that there is a difference between feelings and reality. Just because you feel inadequate doesn’t mean that you are. The fact that someone has hired you says that there is something that drew them to trusting you and your abilities. Make sure you believe you are that right person for the job and you are the right person to do that job.
Challenges can be difficult, especially when you’re suffering from self-doubt. The important thing to remember is that they are not insurmountable–they can be overcome! Working with a business advisor can help you tackle those fears and put them behind you. Contact me and we can put you on the path to self-confidence and success. Join my 6 Week Course – Launch by Design- to gain the freedom you need to propel your business to the heights you wish to achieve.
Great article!!! I find that I do doubt myself even though I know in my heart I’m I the right path!
That’s fantastic, Jodi! You definitely know your stuff. Let that knowledge continue to fuel your confidence. You are a heart-centered entrepreneur. Love it!