Breaking Free Of Imposter Syndrome

leadership mindset and goals neuroscience personal development working moms Nov 20, 2021

Tips to owning your success and walking in confidence when you’re feeling like a pretender.

You know it well, the insecure reruns in your mind that play on repeat, and come at the most inopportune times. Thoughts like, “you don’t belong at this table”, “Sam has it all together and I’m a falling apart”, “I don’t have enough time to get this right”, “I’ll never get that promotion”, “I’m going to fall flat on my face during this presentation”, “my work is not good enough”. 

Suddenly, out of nowhere….

Your heart starts racing.  

You begin to sweat. 

Your face feels flush. 

You feel like everyone is staring at you.

You feel frozen and suddenly cannot find your words.

These are the thoughts and feelings one would expect to come from a person who has no education, no skills, and has had little success, but that’s just not who they are coming from!  These thoughts are happening in the minds of  highly skilled, successful, educated people who think their success is a fluke!  The fear of being “found out” is the telltale sign of a person who is struggling with imposter syndrome. 

What is imposter syndrome? Imposter syndrome is defined in the Oxford dictionary as “the persistent inability to believe that one’s success is deserved or has been legitimately achieved as a result of one’s own efforts or skills.”  The problem with it is that it can lead to a whole litany of symptoms, such as, anxiety, fear, loss of confidence, and loss of motivation.  

This problem will not be solved by trying to perform perfectly.  It will not be solved by working more hours.  It will not be solved by comparing your work to the work of others. Most people that have these thoughts feel ashamed and embarrassed that they are experiencing this and try to hide it.

The solution to this problem is found in the six inches in between your ears and it’s often difficult to attack alone. If this is you, find a coach who can help you process your thinking and develop strategies to overcome these limiting beliefs.

The truth is, how we think, what we believe and how we feel affects how we show up at work and home and is the driving force behind your success. 

Let me explain what’s happening in the above scenario.  You have some thoughts and those thoughts trigger a stress response.  Our brain sends a message to the limbic system that alerts the body that there is danger. It then releases neurochemicals and the fight, flight or freeze syndrome is activated.  This response is helpful for us when there is real danger, but not so helpful for our confidence and clarity in the middle of a presentation or important meeting.

These automatic negative thoughts are your brain’s sneaky way of keeping you safe.  If we allow these thoughts to become a pattern, the pathways become stronger and more difficult to manage. 

You can take charge and become the boss of the stinkin’ thinkin’ that is holding you back from shining brightly and walking in your purpose. 

Tips to walk in belief and confidence when you are feeling like a pretender:

Just say NO!  When you find yourself caught up in these unhelp thoughts, tell yourself to stop, snap a rubber band on your wrist or whatever other trigger you decide to use.  When you do this it will remind yourself to stop the automatic and unconscious thoughts from running wild and begin to switch to objective and intentional thoughts, where you can begin to ask yourself questions.  Is this true?  Is this helpful? How is this thought serving me right now? What are the other options?

Quit the Perfectionism trap!  Realize that good enough is enough! Focus on progress and process instead of faulty expectations and automatic negative thoughts.

Remind yourself of your purpose.  Remembering your why and keeping your purpose in the forefront of your brain, gives us the courage to see outside ourselves and look to the value we have that the world needs.

Celebrate your amazingness!  Find a statement or a question you can remind yourself of that will kick that imposter to the curb! Things like, “you’ve got this, you are skilled in ____ and you are safe”, “you’ve rocked this type of presentation in the past”, “what’s the worst that can happen?”

Keep a Fan File.  It’s easy to forget the good things that others have said about your work when the A.N.T.’s (Automatic Negative thoughts) show up.  When you need that boost of confidence, look back at your fan file to remind yourself of how far you’ve come and what you’ve accomplished.  This helps you remember the past successes and visualize your future successes.  Take time to see your success in full color in your brain.

What tips have you found that help you squash the A.N.T.s?