Ruby Sky Coaching Am I the only one with these imposter thoughts and feelings? Ruby Sky Coaching

 

“A colleague questioned what I was doing, and I immediately doubted my decision.”

 

“In spite of being happy with my job now, I’m constantly scared of being fired as I was laid off in lockdown.”

 

“I used to hate being billed out at an agency because I didn’t think I was worth what was being charged for me.”

 

“I recently joined a networking group with my new business.  Everyone else was talking confidently about what they do, and I felt embarrassed that they would realise that I only had 2 clients and had only been doing this for a very short time.”

 

These are genuine replies to the question “Have you ever felt like an Imposter?” which I posed during a webinar last week.  The webinar in question was hosted by recruitment company Ten2Two and was entitled “Overcoming Imposter Syndrome – finding confidence when looking for work.”  They had around 700 registrations which shows that no-one is alone in having imposter feelings or thoughts.

 

Despite its name, Imposter Syndrome is not a medical condition and certainly cannot be helped with medication! It was first identified by psychologists in 1978 following a survey of over 100 professional women who had been formally recognised for their professional excellence by colleagues.  They found that despite the consistent external validation, these women lacked internal acknowledgement of their accomplishments. When asked about their success, some participants attributed it to luck, while some believed that people had overestimated their capabilities.

 

They discovered that these women experienced symptoms of "generalised anxiety, lack of self-confidence, depression, and frustration related to the inability to meet self- imposed standards of achievement.”  Imposter Syndrome was later also widened to include men, as it can obviously apply to them too.

 

Imposter Syndrome was defined as:

 

“A psychological condition that is characterised by persistent doubt concerning one’s abilities or accomplishments accompanied by the fear of being exposed as a fraud despite evidence of one’s ongoing success.”

 

Although imposter syndrome can present in many different ways, the main features are believing that others think you are more talented/skilled/intelligent than you actually are; being scared that you will be ‘found out’ and labelled a fraud and finally, attributing your success to luck or a one-time thing – you only did well because you worked hard this time.

 

Basically, you don’t believe in yourself, your skills and abilities and you believe that one day, you will be found out and shamed. 

 

You suffer from self-doubt, believe that everyone is better than you, that you are not worthy and that you just can’t do it. 

 

It all sounds rather gloomy and negative but there are aspects of imposterism that can be positive.  Having a touch of imposter syndrome can give you humility and relatability. It can take away some potential arrogance and show that you can be vulnerable.  You just need to know how to use it and not let it stop you from moving forward.

 

Understanding these feelings can help you start to overcome them.  One of the best ways to do this is to look at the root cause.  What might have made you feel this way?  Was it something that happened in your childhood (constantly being compared to a sibling?) or in your first job (being fired for no reason?).  As children and young adults, we internalise observations about our character or ability, and we feel that they define who we are, and we are “stuck” at this stage of our life.  By identifying what the triggers might be, we can start to challenge the negative thoughts and move forward from that point.  

 

But what you can you actually do to overcome these feelings of Imposter Syndrome?  In the webinar I identified 14 practical tips to take away and in brief they are:

 

  1. Talk to others – you are not alone.
  2. Think about times in your life when you thought you had ‘failed “and work out why these things happened.
  3. Look at people you admire or aspire to be like and ask yourself how they got to where they are today.
  4. Listen to other people’s stories on You will be surprised by how many celebrities have these feelings!
  5. Speak to your friends and family and ask them to describe You might be surprised!
  6. List your accomplishments in your life and make a personal CV – when you are feeling self-doubt or imposter feelings, look at this CV and remind yourself of all your skills and talents.
  7. Write an elevator pitch for yourself. Be prepared to sell yourself at all times.
  8. Start positive thinking. It really does work.
  9. Think about what has changed in your life since you took a career break and re-frame this time as a positive.
  10. Get a mentor or mentor someone else. It is amazing how good you will feel after imparting advice to others who know less than you.
  11. Try not to procrastinate too much. Being busy feels great but if you are going to take another course or design some branding for your future business, do it at the same time as applying to jobs or working on your new project.
  12. See failure as a learning experience. All feedback is useful.
  13. Allow yourself to be an amateur – don’t confuse being an amateur with being an imposter. You don’t need to know everything the first time you try something new!
  14. Recognise we are all unique and have a unique package of skills to offer.

 

So, next time you start to have these feelings, stop.  

 

Remind yourself that these are just thoughts and not real.  You can do these things; you are worthy and you are not alone – talk to someone about how you feel.

 

If you need help sorting out your thoughts, contact me on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. and we can talk.

 

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