What does it even mean to feel like an Imposter? Imposter Syndrome was a phrase coined to describe symptoms of experiencing chronic levels of self doubt and not feeling as intellectually intelligent as other people and if this isn't dealt with, it can either hold you back keeping you stuck or you will succeed but you won't know how to internalise those achievements and therefore missing out on celebrating and enjoying your success. You can't understand why other people can't see it and you are forever looking over your back, waiting for someone to finally realise you aren't as good as they think you are.
But here as some truths that I have discovered over the years from experiencing this firsthand in my own life, witnessing it in others within the workplace and working with my coaching clients over the last few years:
1. You are not alone. Yes it's true. With 70% of people likely to experience feeling like an imposter at some time in their life, you are in the majority. Phew - what a relief that is. I know I certainly thought that when I could finally put a label on why I felt the way I did.
2. It doesn't just affect women. Although research has leaned towards this being a female issue, without a doubt men can feel this way too. Personally speaking the reason I think we think it is more about women, is women normally find it easier to speak about their emotions and verbalise how they feel. So it is not that men don't experience it but it may be they just don't talk about it. Thankfully I have been able to support some men who were willing to talk about it and wanted to dissolve it in their lives.
3. It is all an illusion. This is something that is constructed internally and can have no reflection of what is happening in your external world. In fact if you spoke to your close friends and family about it, I bet they would tell you that it is all in your head and you are wonderful. That's great and sweet of them but you need to work on changing the way that you think about yourself to break the illusion.
4. You can feel like you just don't fit in. Without a doubt (no pun intended) feeling like an Imposter can feel like a heavy burden, carrying the weight of this secret that you don' want people to discover. So therefore it can make you feel isolated, distant and like you feel you just can't connect with others. I used to describe it like living in a glass box that I can see out of, yet feeling disconnected from everything around me.
5. It can affect anyone. It is spoken widely about affecting high achievers but I don't think it is that choosy to be honest. It can affect anyone from any walk of life. In fact one client said to me that she felt like an Imposter of being an Imposter as she wasn't a high achiever. As I said before it doesn't just affect women but in fact it doesn't just affect a certain type of person either. I have known people from all walks of life, careers and backgrounds to all feel the same about themselves.
6. You can dissolve it. There are some people who say that it is something that you cannot overcome but I would argue that. I have found that you can dissolve it through working on your self belief, self compassion and self love. Now it's not to say that it won't crop up when you are stepping up to a new challenge say a promotion or up levelling in your business but when it does rear it's head, you can greet it like an old friend and the time to dissolve it is much quicker (if you face it that is).
What I love is what happens when people recognise the symptoms and decide that they want to change the way they view themselves. They start to believe in themselves, recognise their own strengths, their confidence rises and they start to take action from that place. Go for that promotion believing they can, recognise their own worth and ask for that pay rise, speak up and share their opinions in meetings, start to follow their dreams of starting their own business or up level in their business. So it all boils down to a choice. Choosing to live with it or choosing to put it under the microscope and work on the solution to dissolve it once and for all.
So each month I offer a handful of free no-obligation coaching calls that can help you get some clarity around how Imposter Syndrome is showing up in your life, identify what life would look like Imposter free and the next steps for you to take to make that your reality. If you would like to apply for one of these sessions, head over to www.trishabarker.com/contactme fill in your details and I will be in touch.
Hope you enjoyed this blog and be great to carry on this conversation in the comments below