You don’t have to consciously realise you feel like an imposter to be experiencing the anxiety and confusion that comes with Imposter Syndrome.
It is anticipated that 70% of “high achievers” experience thoughts and feelings associated with the narrative of Imposter Syndrome (I.S). Pauline Clance created a test to help identify some commonly collected traits which she entitled the Imposter Phenomenon Test.
And, whilst a label isn’t exactly a solution, it does highlight ( along with the 70% claim) that imposter syndrome might be more common than you realised.
Doing Imposter Syndrome is multi-faceted and the well-known story line of “ feeling like a fraud” is not always the core trait.
Similarly, the perception that someone experiencing Imposter Syndrome lacks confidence & self-esteem is also not necessarily true. As a result of Imposter Syndrome you may have found yourself in a scenario(s) that's stripped confidence or created self-doubt. The two issues remain separate, packaged in one mind.
You likely find it difficult to accept that your success is justified or good enough.
Good Enough is in fact an alien concept to you. The success you reap only burden’s you with greater expectations of yourself for next time. Do even better, or at the least maintain performance…. Must keep going, cannot stop. Better next time. When you think about it now it’s exhausting right?
Do you deflect praise? Praise may even cause anxiety or physical pain when receiving positive feedback. Others probably note this behaviour as modesty and good character and might not notice the discomfort that a positive response creates for you internally.
Comparison: Comparing your own internal feelings of worry, dissatisfaction or negative self-talk to the surface-layer-appearance of others who , seemingly, have their sh*t together .
“Others’” make it look easy and as an observer you perceive simplicity in what they do. You comprehend that your internal fears are not reciprocated by others in their own efforts. Your feelings evade thoughts of their own self-critical narrative going on, because they seemingly float through. Comparison creates the Other with a capital O.... in which Other strives and you feel like you are barely treading water....flip this view and perhaps there are mass collectives of people freaking ourselves out inside, alone?
Those doing Imposter Syndrome are the master of self-critical appraisal. Easy to get caught up on mistakes, like a huge magnifying glass you excel at picking out personal “criticism” filtering out the plethora of positive outcomes and praise you have obtained for something more self-deprecating.
Where mistakes are made, a sense of deep fear and uncertainty, that spirals into a whirl wind of exacerbating frustration, stress and deflation.
If this is your world, you might find safety in the creation of alternative narratives & concepts. It could feel safer to hold back & put others ideas at the forefront. Protecting you, unconsciously, from your ideas or actions being the failure you anticipate them to be.
This experience is confusing, and exhausting. A foggy place that feels scary and yet has momentary pangs of excitement; as you fleetingly align with your true capabilities and skill.
Fear of anxiety catches before Anxiety itself. Frightened of being exposed for something you believe you are not, surprised and confused that others have value or worth in what you do. Are you worried that your capabilities don’t match the perceptions your colleagues have of you? Still scrutinising your own disbelief that you got to where you are now?
People who do Imposter Syndrome often keep this part of you secret and hidden, feeling silly to vocalise. Fear of being misunderstood or mocked may add to holding back on this true existence, even to those you love or trust.
A lonely space, existing in an exhausting yet often silent depiction of who you are “trying to be” and yet not quite accepting who that is. Disbelieving that the skills witnessed by others or reflected in your salary are matched on good merit.
Transforming the Narrative.
Coaching is a great space to start to unpick and transform this narrative.
This may be the first trusted space you can confidentially share your fears without judgment. This might be the first time you explore this aloud. Together lets unpick the elements that create the greatest fear, anxiety, frustration or exhaustion. Collaboratively understand existing strategies used and create choice and the confidence to change the way you do what you do.
From here, you get to excel with new resources Experience them working, things changing becoming easier and skills being enjoyable. The outcome can be that a sense of authenticity is open and free and with that comes calm, genuine pride and a sense of humour to spot check behaviours & older Imposter habits.
If you are reading this blog and finding aspects that resonate with you. It doesn’t have to be a lonely space and there is a solution that leads to a happy & successful life. To avoid burnout or further anxiety, feel free to reach out for a confidential conversation.
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Source Picture Emily Morter - Unsplash