Hey You, Imposter!

Photo by Gift Habeshaw on Unsplash

I’ve always listened to my body. That’s what we should do, right? To be mindful of what we need, what we crave, or what we lack and take actions accordingly. But how do we know who is talking to us — is it our body or our imposter-infected mind? What if that inner voice isn’t always on our side and, therefore, cannot be trusted?

If you’re like me and self-confidence is an issue for you, or that you doubt yourself frequently, you may want to continue reading.

I’ve never really believed in myself despite all my achievements and hard work; I’d shrug them off and call it luck. You may be familiar with my favorite one-liners ‘anyone could do that’, ‘they must have made a mistake and hire me by accident’, or ‘why would anyone be interested in what I’ve got to say?’ Despite all that, I’ve never heard about Imposter Syndrom until my partner mentioned it to me one day over breakfast. He simply couldn’t stand how I’ve always held myself back.

And that’s when I started to notice that voice. This particular voice telling me I wasn’t good enough, I couldn’t do this or that, and that I didn’t have the right to call myself ‘xy’ because I haven’t accomplished ‘z’ yet. I thought my mind used to tell me very gently what I was capable of and what I wasn’t, to remind me of my limits in order to save me from disappointment and embarrassment. Questioning that voice simply wasn’t an option for me.

Since that morning, I started to observe this voice in my head and learn more about this mysterious syndrome. I found out I wasn’t the only one who felt that way.

Imposter syndrome was first described by two clinical psychologists — Dr Pauline Clance and Dr Suzanne Imes — in 1978. They conducted interviews with 150 highly successful women (students and professionals) and found that ‘ despite their earned degrees, scholastic honors, high achievements on standardized tests, these women do not experience an internal sense of success. They defined the term ‘imposter syndrome’ as a condition in which people believe they are not worthy of success and have a persistent belief in their lack of intelligence, skills, or competence. The syndrome has a deep impact on many aspects of one’s day-to-day life — their jobs, relationships, and friendships as well as their confidence as parents.

However, I’ve realized that not many people around me knew what this term was. I wanted to have a conversation about it with my friends but it wasn’t an easy topic to bring up. I’ve read and listened to quite a few eye-opening (ear-unplugging?) podcasts and my most beneficial discovery was that even some very successful people I look up to felt that way at some point during their lives.

Here are my tips on how to tackle the little imposter within you:

  1. Identify the voice. Pay attention to your self-talk. Observe what your mind says when you come up with a new idea or when you think about your goals. We process around 70K thoughts a day and most of them are negative. It may sound bitter, but these partly happen for a reason — they’re supposed to protect us. However, we can still observe what our minds say about our performance, about how good we are, or how high our chances are in pursuing our dreams. These are the thoughts we want to focus on.
  2. Have a debate. Every time when you catch your imposter thoughts have a self-talk chat about it. For example, I scroll down on Medium and think about writing articles myself, my kind imposter friend would pop in and say something like “Who would be interested in your writing and opinions? These people out there are real professionals and are so much better than you.” And at that moment, ask for an explanation, the reason behind this thought. Is there any evidence for it? If none, why would you say it then? The aim is to question it. Don’t let your inner critic win. One piece of advice I was given is to talk to yourself the same way you would talk to your best friend. When thinking about imposter thoughts, we would not hear these in a friendly conversation.
  3. Prove them wrong. The best way to break this pattern is to prove to these voices you can do it and be anything you want. You may not get there tomorrow, but taking action will definitely bring you closer to your goal. Whenever your mind tells you you shouldn’t do something, go and do it. That way you can break the pattern and be fully in control.

Dealing with imposter syndrome gets better with practice over time, but it can reoccur in the future. It won’t likely return with the same strength and intensity, because we know better this time but my point here is that we may feel like imposters anytime during certain periods of our lives — when we get that big promotion or when we become parents — but the good thing is that it also shows how we care about our performance and the impact we may have. It’s natural to doubt ourselves (in a healthy manner) because that’s what prompts us to keep on working on ourselves.

We want to be good bosses, leaders, friends, partners, parents, and grandparents, all in one life. That’s a lot to take in!

Have you ever felt like an Imposter? If so, how do you overcome it and what is your strategy to deal with it? I would be really happy to hear about your experiences if you feel comfortable doing so.

The Imposter Cure

This section contains an affiliate link.

The Imposter cure by Jessamy Hibberd

Work cited:

Hibberd, J. (2019). The Imposter Cure. UK: Aster

--

--

--

I read a lot of books and write about what I read in these books. I educate myself. Enthusiastic chef, health & fitness advocate, traveler, and marketer.

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Recommended from Medium

A Simple Guide to Chilling the F*ck Out

How to Silence the Inner-Saboteur

When You Clear Your Space, You Clear Your Mind

How To Stay Calm In This Seemingly Chaotic World

I don’t take anything personally. Here’s why you shouldn’t either

Focus on These Two Things and You will Always Get Great Results

Hotness Versus Beauty

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Karolina Honzova

Karolina Honzova

I read a lot of books and write about what I read in these books. I educate myself. Enthusiastic chef, health & fitness advocate, traveler, and marketer.

More from Medium

Stop being so hard on yourself. It’s making your procrastination worse.

Stress — An integral part of our lives

Dealing with Procrastination

How To Trust Your Instincts?