Breaking the Cycle of Imposter Syndrome

I am not a writer. I’ve been fooling myself and other people.

John Steinbeck

With 2019 behind us, we might as well jump into 2020 with both feet and take on the topic of Imposter Syndrome.

Really excited about 2020, adding collaborations with some really amazing women, and hopefully I can talk some guys into this as well, to have one guest post every month. They will be sharing their experience and insights with you all. Stay tuned as I get that going. Hopefully will have my first one this month!

I am still learning a lot about social this and social that… and I haven’t figured out how to track across all the channels, if there is a guru out there that can help me understand that… I would be so grateful. Please DM me 🙌

A big THANK YOU for continuing to read and encouraging me to continue… bring on 2020.

Where did this come from?

I have been thinking a lot about why women struggle with Imposter Syndrome and what drives this mindset.

It undermines our vision and belief in our success and makes us feel lucky that we achieved anything at all.

And when I talk about success, I don’t mean just career success. I mean success in everything we do.

Our heads swirl with all the reasons why we won’t be good enough, or why we can’t do whatever, and the weight of the worry is absolutely crushing. No matter our IQ, past success, grades in school, degrees under our belts, we are riddled with self-doubt. Ugh 😩!

As I have been looking into this, I stumbled upon a realization that men also feel like imposters. Huh? 🤔

I seemed to have had an unconscious bias that this was only an issue for women, and men just never felt that way.

They appear to be so outwardly confident, and I haven’t met many men who seemed to lack confidence, but I realize now that it was due to my lack of looking at this as a gender-neutral issue that was causing the blind spot.

I also learned that many of the most outwardly confident people have felt this way.

Some of this lack of perspective seems to be a lack of dialogue around this topic. It feels like a stigmatizing issue; I mean, who wants to tell anyone they are not Uber confident. It reminds me of how mental health issues are still stigmatized.

All this to say, this is written from the perspective that both men and women suffer from this syndrome, and the tips here can apply to both sexes.

I hope that this will start to open the dialogue between the sexes to explore the underlying motivations and insecurities that cause this mindset, even with different catalysts.

What is Imposter Syndrome anyway?

I have heard the term, and I thought it was pretty straight forward, but, with anything that is based on emotion and our internal thinking, it gets complicated.

Harvard Business Review: Imposter syndrome can be defined as a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success. ‘Imposters’ suffer from chronic self-doubt and a sense of intellectual fraudulence that override any feelings of success or external proof of their competence.

Wow, that is a lot of mental energy going to worry and self-doubt, instead of on the things you want to be doing.

That mental energy is creating a mindset that is in danger of a self-fulfilling prophecy, which is the unintended consequence of thinking this way. So when you do stumble or fail in even the smallest things, you tend to use it as a reinforcement of your feeling like an imposter. Hence the cycle!

You Are Not Alone …

There are so many things we could explore as to the reasons for this manifesting in our minds. However, each person is different.

The important thing is the You Are Not Alone.

An estimated 70% of people experience these impostor feelings at some point in their lives, according to a review article published in the International Journal of Behavioral Science.” – Time Magazine, June 26, 2018.

Let me say that again 70% of people!!

How do I change my mindset?

Regardless of how this manifested in your life, be it childhood, parents, siblings, experiences, or your self induced pressure to succeed, here are some coping mechanisms that you can try:

  1. Talk to someone: find someone who feels the same way or even find a behavioral therapist to help you talk through your inner feelings. Use this to have support to break the negative thought patterns. We don’t truly see ourselves as others do, so surround yourself with those that will give you positive and uplifting feedback, as well as trusted input that aides you in your growth.
  2. Make a list: list out all your successes and think about what you did to be successful in those situations. This reinforces you seeing your capabilities, achievements and potential.
  3. Forgive yourself: when you make a mistake focus on the learning and not the mistake. Do not label it a failure, shift your mindset to “learning” or “mistake” (if you’re a perfectionist this will take time, so give yourself a break)
  4. Shift your environment: mindset is a battle. Find what you need to reinforce positivity and begin to notice when you have negative self-talk. Once you notice, you will be able to control those thoughts, instead of them controlling you.
  5. Learn to love yourself: accepting ourselves can be so hard and even harder to spend time building our self-esteem and self-worth. However it can be done when we focus on accepting that it’s okay to be positive about ourselves and get comfortable in our own skin. Build your mental toughness and acceptance of the whole you, the one that is unique and wonderful.

In addition to the list above, give yourself a break and pick at least one thing you did in the week that you were proud of and then celebrate it. Have a glass of wine, buy yourself a treat, do something creative, it doesn’t matter. Celebrate your wins, not matter the size. Grow your acceptance, self-worth, and positive feelings about yourself.

Also, do the same thing regarding one thing you didn’t do so great that same week. Think about the learning and what you will do next time and then celebrate that. Listen to your internal self-talk and begin to catch yourself if you’re beating yourself up.

Life is filled with accomplishments and challenges, and I believe you have to celebrate both. You can’t have one without the other.

When people or situations pull me down, I have learned to be grateful for the experience because it builds my resilience and grit.

Honestly, it took a long time to get there, and I had a TON of help from both men and women.

I have now replaced the word “failure” with “learning forward.”

I have felt like an imposter through different periods in my life, especially when I have taken on something new. I would think, “I can’t do this, I am going to fail,” and then I have had to dig deep and push through.

My latest battle was in starting this blog. I really wanted to do it, but kept putting it on the back burner, thinking “what do I have to say, and no one will read it anyway” and “I’m not a good writer.”

And then I was catapulted into action with the encouragement of family, friends, and colleagues that said follow your passion, and you do have something to say. And so Loudly Imperfect emerged and I started to spread my wings.

I am grateful for them pushing me outside my comfort zone as I have grown and continue to grow through this journey.

So get out there and find a tribe that continues to push you out of your comfort zone! 🤗

Final Thoughts …

One of the hardest things is to accept and love ourselves fully.

We are surrounded by negativity and even what feels like being judged all the time. (This includes how we judge ourselves so critically 🤦‍♀️)

We naturally feel like we don’t measure up, and when someone says something akin to that, we take it as validation of our lacking. We cast off the positive feedback as “oh that; it is nothing” instead of embracing it with “thank you!”

If you take one thing away from this post,

YOU ARE ENOUGH, AND YOU ARE WORTHY OF LOVE AND SUCCESS. YOU ARE NOT AN IMPOSTER; YOU ARE BECOMING WHO YOU WERE MEANT TO BE.

And I am saying this in a loud motivating tone 😉 because I want you to hear it and emerge from where you are, to get to where you’re going.

The cycle does ebb and flow, however as you gain your confidence, your mindset will shift radically, and it won’t take long, so hang tough.

This year, commit to loving yourself and accepting who you are.

Shine Brightly!

Samantha

Published by Samantha

I am a fierce advocate for women, and men, especially in business. I want you bright wonderfully talented people to find your voice, be confident and change the system from within.

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