Do you ever feel like a fraud at work, in your relationships, or just in your own life in general?
I’m excited to help you untangle this bizarre paradox known as the Imposter Syndrome by listing three ways to help you overcome those imposter thoughts and stay grounded in the authentic and awesome you. Let’s dive right in!
- Recognize when your imposter voice begins to sing.
When you recognize that the imposter thoughts are speaking – don’t listen! Meditation can be an incredibly powerful tool to become aware of some of the thoughts that are just beneath that conscious level. Start small – one minute of meditation. Sit quietly with yourself, and just listen to whatever comes up. You might be surprised at some of the things that you hear! Pay attention to when you hear some of those imposter thoughts bubble up to the surface – but don’t judge yourself. Remember this is what we’re here for: to hear those imposter thoughts and recognize them so we can begin to change them. It’d be great if we could walk around in this meditative state at all times, but since most of us have jobs and real life to attend to, I like to use another trick I call an Awareness Alarm. If you’ve ever set an alarm clock to wake up in the mornings, you’ve probably realized that over time, you start to wake up just a few minutes before that alarm clock goes off. That’s awesome, because what that means is that you’ve trained your brain to become conscious at a particular time! And guess what? We can use that exact same training while we’re already awake to eke out this much more conscious time in order to start routing out that imposter. Here’s how it works: this week, I want you to set 5 alarms to go off throughout the day at regularly scheduled intervals. When the alarm clock goes off, turn the alarm off, take a deep breath, and just check in with yourself. Ask yourself, “what stories am I telling right now? What thoughts are popping up for me now?”
- Define your imposter thoughts.
Now that you’re hearing them or catching them in the act, you need to define your imposter thoughts. In this case, it’s really important to ask, “Is this a fact or is this a feeling?” Our brains naturally try to make sense of our feelings by asking the question “Why?” and that starts this spiral of explanations of facts that aren’t necessarily true. For example, “I’m not cut out to be leading at this level because I don’t know the answer because I never get it right because I’m always failing because…” Huh? These are not facts! These are poorly disguised feelings of fear! Being able to separate feelings from facts is essential in order to take power back over your imposter and control your own emotional agenda. Just because you feel something, does not make that feeling a fact. It’s helpful to objectively try proving your feelings as a fact. Try to actually make the case that your brain is right. It’s telling you that you are an imposter and it’s correct because here’s all the proof to back it up. My guess is you’ll come up short. But, don’t let that stop you from trying ask yourself, “Well how am I not qualified? What does make me a loser? Wow have I not gotten it right in the past?” Write these down as a list and make a note of how many of these are opinions (yours or others) and how many of these are actual statements of fact. Remember in this exercise, we’re looking for just the facts. Become a detective to find evidence that does not actually support these imposter accusations! Look through your achievements, your professional records, your skill sets, the problems that you’ve solved…begin writing these lists of accomplishments down as well as a counterbalance to the imposter accusations.
- It’s decision time!
You need to decide to tell yourself a different story! Take a look at the two lists and decide which is more factually-supported. Then, actively and consciously tell yourself the story that your brain needs to hear. Your brain believes the story you tell it – make sure you’re telling the most accurate one! Tell yourself the story that you need to hear, and watch your conscious mind take it from there. Trust me, you won’t be worse off staying stuck in that story of stress, anxiety, and imposter syndrome that makes you panic, anxious and raises your cortisol levels…and now you’re under-achieving at work…and now you’re proving yourself true and…
That’s a vicious cycle to stay stuck in. It’s time you prove yourself right with a better narrative! Even if you don’t believe the story you’re telling yourself at first, turns out it doesn’t matter! It still has the same effect.
Until next time, live more, fear less!