Are you living in the front row of your life but you feel like you should be sitting in the back row?
- Do you feel a fraud?
- Have you ever worried that you’ve got where you are by mistake?
- Do you worry that you may be found out for not being ‘good enough’?
- Have you ever received a compliment and it’s made you feel guilty because you feel inside, that you don’t deserve that compliment?
- Do you ever feel unworthy of what you’ve achieved or received?
- Do you feel you’re not good enough yet because you don’t know enough and there’s more to learn?
If you’ve answered YES to any of these questions, maybe you’re suffering from Imposter Syndrome…
We often focus on the things we don’t know and criticise ourselves for not knowing enough, rather than acknowledging all the things we do know. When something goes wrong, we often dwell on it – pulling ourselves apart for making a mistake. We ruminate over and over about what we could’ve done differently and what we should’ve done better or not done at all… We haul ourselves over the coals and that feeling stays with us whenever we think about it.
So why is it different when we do something great? Instead of acknowledging ‘it’ and giving ourselves credit for doing well, we put it down to being a ‘fluke’ or ‘good luck’ – we shift our thoughts to it being an external event that’s made ‘it’ successful, rather than being pleased with ourselves and recognising the work that went into becoming ‘good’ etc. When someone else acknowledges ‘it’, we dismiss their compliments “oh, it was because of …. that I was able to do ‘it'” – We make excuses and feel embarrassed rather than accepting the compliment!
So what is Imposter Syndrome?
It’s when we fundamentally believe we’re ‘not good enough’ and as a result, we never acknowledge our greatness or the value we bring to the World, to our jobs and the people around us. It’s a fear that we’re going to be found out for not knowing enough or being good enough. We fear being discovered – for being a fraud and instead of taking action, we sometimes procrastinate and look for the reasons why we can’t put ourselves forward or step out into the limelight. We hide behind our fears…
If you have a fear of failure and you find it difficult to accept compliments maybe it’s Imposter Syndrome holding you back?
I definitely experienced this for many years. I remember not applying for jobs because I felt like I wasn’t good enough and didn’t know enough and then kicking myself afterwards when someone who I knew wasn’t as experienced or as good at the job got it. Why?
Because they bothered to put themselves forward when I’d simply held myself back!
How can we overcome Imposter Syndrome?
We have to become conscious of ourselves and our thoughts and notice what we’re saying to ourselves.
- The next time someone compliments you, notice what you’re about to say and instead of dismissing the compliment and passing on the credit to someone or something else, accept the responsibility for doing something great and thank the person. Acknowledge to yourself that “You Did Good”
- Start to write down each day something good you’ve done and then acknowledge it and thank yourself for being brilliant.
- Tell yourself you’re amazing – it may feel uncomfortable at first, but eventually, it will feel easier to accept.
- Remind yourself daily of all the things you do know and the things you’ve learned throughout your life.
- Remind yourself of the things that have gone right for you and accept responsibility for those great things rather than dismissing them as insignificant.
- Accept that making a mistake is part of our learning journey too. When something goes wrong, acknowledge what you’ve learned from that and move on instead of going over and over and over it!
Instead of focussing on what we don’t know or the mistakes we’ve made and continue to criticise ourselves, maybe it’s time to remind ourselves about how much we’ve grown and how much knowledge and experience we DO have.
- Instead of running away from a compliment, acknowledge and accept the recognition and appreciation.
- Acknowledge that there will always be something new to learn and that you’ll never know EVERYTHING. You don’t have to know it all – none of us are perfect and none of us knows everything.
- If you feel that you don’t deserve to be here, ask yourself “If I don’t deserve to be here, who does?”
- If you’re feeling like a fraud and it was just ‘luck’ that got you here, it’s important to remind yourself about the work, the learning, the skills you’ve gained and the effort you’ve made to improve and develop yourself.
Maybe… just maybe it’s not ‘luck’ that got you where you are, but actually the amount of effort you’ve made in your life. Nobody is perfect – we’re human beings and as such, we learn from making mistakes.
If we wait for perfection, we’ll be waiting forever. Just think what you could be missing out on! According to Vanessa Van Edwards (video below), 70% of people suffer from Imposter Syndrome at some point in their life and women – particularly high achieving women, feel like they don’t deserve their success.
What do you think? Let me know by leaving a comment below..
Oh, did this ever ring a bell. Oh, yes, we beat ourselves up and don’t allow ourselves to succeed. I’ve held back from applying from jobs, too, due to feelings of inadequacy. Self-sabotage at its finest. Well, no more! 🙂 Thanks for a great post and the reminder to be our own advocate. <3
Oh yes, I used to feel like this and I’ll admit, I still have my moments when I find it hard to accept compliments. But I’m learning how to be my own best friend and that we’re really not helping ourselves, let alone anyone else, when we diminish ourselves. Wonderful post Wendy. Here’s to being amazing!! xx
Me too Miri – it’s something I’ve really had to work on myself in the last few years. Yes most definitely – We ARE Amazing!! Thanks so much for your lovely comment… xxx