Do you ever feel like you’re just winging it?
Back in my 30’s, I was working as a Senior Account Manager for a Microsoft Account in central London. I had lots of responsibility, I got paid big bonuses, and I was having a lot of fun!
But even though things were going so well, a voice inside my head said, “I’m just winging it!” and “this is so much fun, but it must be too good to be true!”
My inner critic kept telling me, “I’m not good enough”, or “I’m not experienced enough”, and “sooner or later they’ll all realize it’s just ME and I’m nothing special!”
Years later, I heard about imposter syndrome and realised what I’d experienced really was a thing! And that other people felt like that too.
So, what is imposter syndrome?
“Imposter syndrome can be defined as a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success.” Harvard Business Review. Dr Brene Brown, famous for her work on fame and vulnerability (at work and in life) shares her view on feeling like a fake and growing your authenticity this here, in this short YouTube clip with Oprah:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_YeulUgWNp8
“Imposters” suffer from incredible self-doubt and are often high achieving, successful people. They feel a sense of fraud that overrides any feelings of success. Some researchers have even linked it to perfectionism (setting unrealistically high standards for yourself then beating yourself up when you don’t achieve them), especially in women.
Imposter syndrome affects more women than men, with 70% of high performing females struggling with feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt.
So, what can you do to overcome those feelings of self-doubt?
Well, it’s about taming your inner critic, acknowledging your own strengths and your special talents. You think about all the good things you’ve done, and this builds your own self-esteem so that you can work alongside imposter syndrome and try to overcome it.
There’s a simple exercise you can do where you make a list of your own achievements. I love to do with my clients because it is incredibly empowering and inspiring.
You start by making a list of what you are most proud of. Most of us list our qualifications, buying our first house, having children etc. These are fine, but I ask my clients to go right back to thinking about what gave them the most joy when they were children.
For example, one of my earliest achievements was learning to ride a bike. I remember my dad giving me a push, getting halfway down the lane, and then turning around to look at him and realising – oh my God I did it! I remember how proud I felt, and how overjoyed I was!
If we can think back to these events when we felt proud of ourselves, and make a list, not only does it help us build our self-belief, but by building our self-esteem, we stop doubting ourselves, and grow our sense of deserving.
Stop feeling like you’re winging it and believe in yourself!
A story I love to tell is about Winston Churchill. Early in his career, he received criticism and was told he would never make anything of himself. However, a journalist had written an article naming him as someone to watch.
Churchill kept this newspaper cutting in his pocket for many years and whenever he received criticism from the press or the opposition, he would read it and remember someone had faith in him. For Churchill, it was like having power in his pocket.
Just like Churchill, you could keep your list of personal successes on your phone, or your bedroom mirror, or even various places in the house. Reminding you how good you are and allowing you to be kind to yourself. If you can be kind to yourself and count your blessings in life, then everything changes.
Good luck with writing your success list! If you are interested in tackling your feelings of self-doubt and you would like further support, find out more about my online coaching programmes.
Want to know if you might have Imposter Syndrome?
Contact me for a free 30-minute chat. I’ll answer any questions you may have, and I’ll talk about what I offer and how I can help you build your self-belief!
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