Have you ever felt like you are a fraud and have not lived up to the expectations of your friends and family? Do you think your co-workers have an inflated view of your skills and abilities and one day they will find out you do not know much, and they will expose you as a fake? When you look in the mirror do you see someone who has been lucky rather than good to achieve their level of success?
Do you feel that somehow you have tricked others into liking you and wanting to spend time with you and you are not worthy or deserving of their friendship? If you answered yes to any of these scenarios you are experiencing what is called the “Imposter Syndrome,” which is the belief that you are fraudulently claiming to be something you are not, that you are not as good as other people think you are. It has been estimated that nearly 70% of individuals will experience signs and symptoms of impostor syndrome at least once in their life. While imposter syndrome is still prevalent among women, and specifically women of color, men are also susceptible to developing this mindset.
The imposter syndrome disproportionately affects high-achieving people, who find it difficult to accept their accomplishments. The late great Maya Angelou fell victim to this condition, she once said: “I have written 11 books, but each time I think, ‘Uh oh, they are going to find out now. I have run a game on everybody, and they are going to find me out.’” Despite their outstanding academic and professional accomplishments, many women like Maya Angelou believe that they are not bright and have fooled anyone who thinks otherwise. I admit that I have had imposter syndrome symptoms, because I was not able to internalize and own my successes and I had trouble believing that I was worthy. I had what I called intellectual self-doubt.
Once I realized that I suffered from this imposter syndrome condition I knew I had to change my mindset and here are some of the things I did to do that: 1) I had to remind myself of what I did well and focus on my strengths. 2) I reminded myself I was not perfect and I had to stop being so hard on myself when I made a mistake or bad decision. 3) I began to reward myself and celebrate my victories. I worked hard so I was also going to play hard and enjoy the fruits of my hard work and 4) I started to change the way I was thinking about my life which helped me to feel less anxious and fearful all the time. I stopped doubting myself and started to believe more in my talents and skills.
The kryptonite for imposter syndrome is “self-confidence.” Self-confidence is when you trust your own abilities, capacities, and judgments, and believe you can successfully face day-to-day challenges, circumstances, and conditions. Self-confidence may not be a sure-fire guarantee of success, but it is a pattern of thinking that will improve your likelihood of success and turn your thoughts into action. Self-confidence is like a muscle, the more you use it, the stronger it gets.
Most of us will experience moments of doubt, and that is normal, what is not normal is when we let that doubt control our actions. We may still have some impostor moments, but we must not allow it to be a way of life.
Healing Without Hate: It’s a choice. It’s a lifestyle. Pass it on.
Visit www.WendyGladney.com and www.forgivingforliving.org to learn more. Wendy is a life strategist, coach, consultant, author, and speaker.