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I'm suddenly experiencing imposter syndrome and I don't know why?

Whilst Imposer Syndrome and those self-critical narratives, tend to have been with people for a while.

It is also common that, with a significant change, such as returning to the office or starting a new job, changing your friendship circles following a relationship break up or beginning or re-locating can "trigger" this experience of imposter syndrome.

You may be very well reading this blog and for the first time in your life experiencing this critical self-talk and over-whelming anxiety and nervousness that comes with Imposter Syndrome.

So why might you suddenly find yourself feeling this way?

Whilst there are many unique reasons why you find yourself experiencing this, that can be understood and supported in the coaching space.

One of the simplest explanations is that you are simply out of your comfort zone.

Where as long-term imposter beliefs evolve over time, likely to be from young experiences and due to condition love factors and Self = Seeking Perfection narratives.

A person who has adopted imposter syndrome more recently in their life. Is likely to have found them self in a scenario or environment that is unfamiliar right now. Or where - if you dig deeper- some of your values are being compromised by yourself or others behaviour.

Change can unsettle us and sometimes our "rules of the world" feel disrupted and this can bring up these alien changes in your experience of the world.

Out of your comfort zone and in a state of confusion.

Here are some common scenarios clients have explored around adopting raging imposter syndrome.

  • A manager who is inconsistent in approach and feedback.

  • A new set of friends who "appear" more confident than you and lead you to comparison thinking.

  • Leaving and relationship and loosing core friends.

  • A loss or trauma, leaving you to doubt the world and doubt yourself.

  • Being successful in an internal interview, believing other candidates who did not get the job were better then you.

  • Being unsuccessful in a career opportunity, leaving you in doubt of all your abilities in your current role too.

  • Changing your career or business direction and having to re-learn and un-learn your way through new processes and dynamics.

  • Covid and furlough leaving you feeling unsure and lacking confidence in a new way of working and shifting team dynamics.

Imposter syndrome, in this situation can leave you feeling " not good enough" or thinking that successes are just " luck of the draw" or that you are "Blagging it".

This can lead you to "over-try" at things, or build anxiety and over-whelm in your mind about how a scenario is going to pan out for you. Trying to predict the future, and seeing the worst case scenarios.

It can result in you deleting success, distorting the reasons why someone might be nice, give you a chance, or even leave you losing touch with who you are and feeling all sorts of out-of -body experiences and confusion.

You may find yourself blushing when you speak up, or finding the nerves and critical narrative swell up in front of others too.

Although historical research typically alluded to Imposter Syndrome being a phenomenon that affected women. Modern research shows that I.S can affect anyone, no matter which gender you identify with. If this is you, you may feel unable to discuss your beliefs with your peers or family for fear of sounding silly or being misunderstood.

What is Imposter Syndrome? The term imposter syndrome (IS) describes a belief system that increases self-doubt and makes you feel in adequate or unsuccessful.

The likelihood is that you have a decent career, and your life is seemingly in place” to the outside world. But your inner experience is clouded by uncertainty and disbelief in your abilities or worth.

This is, of course, even more confusing for some one experiencing it "all of a sudden" having seemingly "coped" in similar scenarios in the past.

If you relate to the Imposter Syndrome narrative you will be giving yourself a hard time and worry about being a complete fraud at what you do., on constant look out for the person who is going to call you out!

To others you might be perceived as confident or progressive in work and life. People may not have noticed the change yet. But internally, you tell yourself a whole different story, dissatisfied and uneasy at who you are, or what you feel you aren’t achieving. And what the hell is going on!

Currently you might be using one or more of the following “strategies” common to people experiencing imposter syndrome:

  • Avoidance: staying out of situation in which you worry you might fail or embarrass yourself.

  • Hiding: standing back from opportunities

  • Procrastinating: leaving things to the last minute and then rushing/panicking to get things done.

  • Lying/fibbing: changing the truth to avoid feeling/risking being caught out.

  • Comparing: making comparisons to others whom you belief are more successful/better than yourself.

  • Over-preparing: going above and beyond a brief or requirement to feel validated.

  • Sabotaging: choosing to sabotage something due to your growing fear, that to see it through would lead to failure.

  • Perfectionism – feeling like everything you do is never enough or working above and beyond the requirements to achieve a personal expectation. Shame and embarrassment – scrutinisng the way you have said or done something and filling yourself with regret.

Whilst these strategies might feel like they ease the thoughts and feelings that rise inside they may become part of your problem.

I.S can also impact your mental health and well-being such as increasing anxiety ( and possibly even panic attacks) or low mood. Some people also face burn-out where body and mind are exhausted and over-whelmed. of course this negatively impacts you when you have to do certain tasks, activities or responsibilities like speak in front of others, finish a project or join a group/socialise.

Over time this intensifies your self-doubt, can knock your inner-confidence and leave you feeling unsure, insecure and even paranoid.

  • People who associate with the term I.S often identify with a difficultly to receive praise. Fearing that it is not genuine feedback, the praise-giver is “just being kind” or making you feel you have to work even harder to achieve future valuation.

  • You spend your time comparing your own ability to others and feeling inferior in skill set or achievements.

  • You may be experiencing shame and embarrassment scrutinising the way you have said or done something and feeling regret for your actions. This can lead to over-thinking.

​ By finding the approaches and resources to help you shift these thoughts, feelings and beliefs you can avoid struggling further with your mental health and confidence.

Be reassured, you are not alone. Though your experience is unique to you. There could even be someone sitting across you, or peering out of you from an online meeting thinking similar thoughts to you. The challenge is Imposter Syndrome masks this from us and can lead you to believe that you are the odd one out.

Here are five ways to explore your emerging imposter syndrome for yourself.

  1. Be kind to yourself - getting angry and frustrated with yourself only feeds that inner critic.

  2. Seek support through mentoring, therapists, coaches or in supervision at work with a trusted manager.

  3. Label your feelings and learn to reframe beliefs - ignoring them may make them shout louder.

  4. Build self esteem through trusting and open relationships with yourself and others.

  5. Identify what learning, conditions or resources will help you to feel more confident and comfortable in this unfamiliar space. What do you want, not what you don't want!

For help with your imposer syndrome. Coaching together can help you manage anxiety and build back confidence and capability. Giving you resources that you can apply in the ever changing world.

To book a FREE discovery call follow the link HERE

Picture - Tim Mossholder - Unsplash

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