“I wonder how long it will take before someone figures out that I’m not very good at this. I shouldn’t have been given this job. I don’t know what I’m doing.”
Have you ever caught yourself thinking this way? These types of thoughts are common in those that experience Impostor Syndrome.
And it is an insidious affliction, causing you to suffer with pervasive and consistent thoughts of inadequacy, even when you’ve proven yourself to be entirely capable. It’s as if you can’t convince yourself how great you are!
And the person experiencing Impostor Syndrome feels this way all of the time.
Imposter Syndrome is not limited to any particular demographic. Women, men, children, doctors, lawyers, and authors, can all suffer from Impostor Syndrome. When Impostor Syndrome is allowed to exist unchecked it can severely limit your overall satisfaction in life. It can also hamper your relationships and career.
So let me ask you.
Do you feel like a fake?
Do you find it hard to believe that people trust you?
Do you regularly feel self-doubt, regardless of how much success you achieve?
There are three primary qualities that those with Impostor Syndrome share:
- The feeling of being a fake or a phony. If you have Impostor Syndrome, you believe that you don’t know what you actually do know. You think you’re just faking it, and that others are crazy for assuming that you know what you’re doing.
- Fear of being discovered as a fraud. Everyone with Impostor Syndrome worries that the day will come when everyone finally figures out they’re a fraud. And the anxiety that arises fro working about being discovered as a fraud is considerable.
- An inability to accept success as genuine. Its common to assign success to external factors, such as luck, being in the right place – right time, or having the right connections.
Having Impostor Syndrome makes it challenging to accept the idea that one’s skills and expertise are the reasons for success.
It’s also common to overestimate the abilities of others. If something is easy to accomplish for someone with Impostor Syndrome, their assumption is that it’s easy for everyone, even when it is not. They fail to recognize that their knowledge and skills make it easy.
Are you starting to recognize yourself in these qualities? You’re not alone. Many of the most successful people have struggled with feeling like a fake.
What Causes Imposter Syndrome
Your basic nature or personality and upbringing can combine to create a general feeling of inadequacy.
When we talk about basic nature, neuroticism is a component of Impostor Syndrome. Those that are neurotic have an innate tendency to worry, have negative expectations of the future, focus on personal shortcomings and weaknesses, and struggle to enjoy life in general.
Those with Impostor Syndrome often have parents that set unreasonably high standards and focus more on failure than success. You know the kinds of parents that want to know why you got a “B” in science but ignore the five “A’s” on the rest of your report card!
What type of impostor are you?
While there are no hard and fast rules, it’s generally accepted that there are five basic types of impostors
- The expert. The expert believes she lacks in the knowledge necessary to be successful. She spends a lot of time looking for new things to learn. She always seems to need to learn just one more thing, (The new degree, certification, sales course, seminar) and then they’ll have the confidence they need to apply themselves. And that day never comes. There’s always something else she believes she needs to learn. The expert is very clear at procrastination.
- The soloist. Soloists avoid asking for help, feeling everything must be done on her own believing she will be exposed as a fraud if she asks for help; and believes that a true expert never needs help.
- The genius. The genius feels inadequate and a touch of shame or embarrassment if she can’t complete a task easily; and believes an expert should be able to handle anything quickly and easily.
- The perfectionist. The perfectionist sets impossibly high standards and confirms her lack of expertise by failing to attain them. If she actually does attain her high standards, she believes that she should have done more. It’s a no-win situation.
- The superhero. The superhero secretly believes that she’s incompetent when she compares herself to her colleagues. So she attempts to prove her worth by outdoing everyone. She’s the one that works weekends when it isn’t necessary, arrives early, skips breaks and stays late. She sits at her desk all day in an attempt to push out new content and new programs. She changes her offers every few months.
Women who suffer from imposter syndrome have outward success, and the ability to make money, and lots of it. But they also tend to lack the savings that makes them feel safe and secure, and/or their debt feels punishing. They recreate feelings of unsafety, insecurity and punishment in their money, for the crime of “not being enough”.
For me, imposter syndrome manifested itself in my money, and caused me to keep giving it away. Almost like a perpetual sacrifice/love offering to those who I secretly believed deserved more than I did. Whether that was in the form of family, friends, or clients…..I was giving it all away. The crime I was guilty of was the ‘luck’ of being an ‘accidental leader’ or being at the right place at the right time.
I believed my success was accidental, the luck of the draw, and had nothing to do with my genius, my skillset and the seeds I had planted along the way.
For months, after receiving a promotion my internal dialogue was, “they’ve made a mistake, they meant to give this promotion to someone else, and I dreaded the day that they would find out their mistake. Sunday evenings were full of panic and anxiety because I was certain Monday morning they would correct their error.
The worry, the anxiety and stress of being “discovered” can be debilitating and takes a massive toll on your health. Imposter syndrome also takes a massive toll on how much money you believe it is safe to keep in the form of savings, and how much debt makes you feel comfortable, and the debt feels absolutely punishing.
Impostor Syndrome won’t go quietly into the night on its own. It’s important to deal with the beliefs you developed in childhood, your basic nature, and the current manifestations of those the beliefs and your thoughts. Dealing with all three will provide the best chance for success.
Addressing your neurotic tendencies can be very helpful with Impostor Syndrome and overall happiness.
Now before you start flipping out on me for my use of the word neurotic, this isn’t a judgment. One of the five major personality traits is neuroticism. We all fall somewhere on the neuroticism scale, and those with Impostor Syndrome tend to reside at the higher end of the scale. While its tough to alter your basic nature, there are tools you can use to enhance your outlook on life and how you handle stress, worry, and anxiety. Tapping or emotional freedom technique is an excellent tool that we all literally have at our finger tips, and it is the only clinically proven mind/body connection tool, that deregulates stress, worry and anxiety. It also assists with the practice of mindfulness.
Keeping your mind in the present moment is the first part of mindfulness. Mindfulness consists first of focusing your thoughts on whatever you’re doing in the moment or on some aspect of your immediate environment.
The second aspect of mindfulness is noticing your emotions and thoughts without judging them. When you do this while Tapping, it takes away the emotional charge. When you’re feeling anxious, try to relax and notice how you experience the anxiety in your body. How does it feel? Then start tapping through the acupressure points while saying out loud what you are noticing and experiencing. It is remarkable how attune we become to our mind/body connection as we Tap.
Engage in positive self-talk. You can’t experience neuroticism if you’re not saying negative, doom-and-gloom things to yourself. Observe how you speak to yourself and interrupt the pattern of negative self-talk by developing a habit of saying positive, encouraging things to yourself. This will take consistent practice, and the results are worth the effort.
Stay Focused on solutions. Those that worry a lot focus on their challenges and negative outcomes. When you’re faced with something that concerns you, look for a solution and implement it. Here’s the thing if there is no solution to be found, there is absolutely no value in worrying about it.
Let go of trying to be perfect. When I guide my clients through this process I start to talk very slowly as if we are traveling down a long dark hallway together. Because we are. A vow to be perfect, makes sense to some of the smartest women on the planet. And if you are one of those brilliant women feeling the need to be perfect, the world can be a challenging and scary place. Because when you need to be perfect, there’s only one way that things can go correctly and an infinite number of ways that things can go wrong, and you are left with the feeling and manifestations of always striving and never quite arriving.
Our Earliest Paradigm – Our Parents
Let’s face it, our parents didn’t study parenting for years in school. Parents do not become experts until it’s too late. It’s only after your kids have grown that you have enough experience to parent correctly and most parents leave something to be desired in their performance.
This includes me and it most likely includes your parents.
How to undo the damage of your childhood, or your childhood traumas and feel like less of an impostor:
1. Examine the harmful beliefs that you developed in childhood. What did you learn from your parents that is harming you today? Making a list of the harmful beliefs is a good start. A few common examples include:
- I have to be perfect. Anything less than perfection is failing.
- Mistakes and failure are bad.
- I’m not enough.
- I’m not worthy.
- I’m powerless.
- I’m not capable.
- I’m not important.
- I’m not a priority.
- I will never amount to anything.
2. Question the belief. These beliefs were programmed in you, as you assigned a meaning to your parents’ words and reactions to your behavior. And the meaning you assigned was from a childlike filter. Ask yourself these questions:
- What happened that led me to believe this? Try to pinpoint one or more events from your childhood.
- Is this the only reasonable interpretation?
- Were my parents trying to be helpful, but took a wrong approach?
- What is the best, most helpful interpretation from the experience that led to this belief?
Complete this process for all of your negative beliefs that contribute to your Impostor Syndrome. Now this may be a very long list. And you may find unraveling a belief or two each day to be the least overwhelming approach, with massive compound benefits.
Let’s take a look at an example. Suppose a negative belief you hold is:
“Perfection is the only acceptable result.”
Looking through your memories, you remember two times where you received this message loud and clear.
- There was a time you brought home one B in your report card, and the rest of the report card contained A’s. Your parents focus was on how can we get better, how can we raise the B, with no acknowledgment for the As that you received.
- Another time, you decided to help your mother by folding the laundry. You did an amazing job, especially considering that you were only7 years old. However, when your mom inspected your work, she pointed out that the pillowcase edges did not line up, and she never commented on how well you matched up all the socks
What are some other interpretations of these incidents?
Let’s come up with a few:
- My parents were jerks that didn’t know anything about how to raise a child.
- My parents wanted me to learn from my mistakes, so they focused on those. My parents didn’t want me to become complacent or cocky.
- My parents were just having a bad day.
Continue coming up with alternatives until you have exhausted all the possibilities that seem reasonable to you.
Next, pick out the most helpful interpretation that seems believable to you.
Now, relive those experiences, but imagine your parent’s response supporting your new belief. You can even change the words your parents say in your mind. It helps to do this while Tapping.
Keep in mind that it’s not just parents that influenced your beliefs. It could be a sibling, other relative, neighbor, or teacher. Look for all the sources of the beliefs you have that make you feel like an impostor today.
Deal With the Present
Your past, beliefs, and basic personality have led you to where you are right now, including in your finances. Dealing with these things allows for the possibility of making changes now. Impostor Syndrome won’t go away easily.
Once the past and your natural tendencies have been addressed, its time to address the present with these strategies:
1. Acknowledge the challenge of Impostor Syndrome in your life. This isn’t an easy challenge to overcome, so it’s important to recognize that it’s causing issues in your life.
- List all the ways Impostor Syndrome is making you miserable.
- List all the ways this issue is holding you back and limiting your life.
- List all the ways your life would be enhanced if you could work through it.
- How much happiness is it costing you?
- How much money is it costing you by limiting your employment opportunities, sabotaging your savings and punishing debt?
2. Draw attention to your successes. Recognize your role in your success. You weren’t successful just because you were lucky or knew the right people. Recognize your contribution to all the great things you’ve done.
You might need to enlist the help of friends and family for this. Ask them to list your positive traits.
3. Redefine failure. Failure is only a temporary condition. It’s stepping stone to achieving your goal. Some things require a few tries. Sometimes you’ll take the wrong approach and need to make a few changes.
4. Learn to let go of the need for external validation. This is a tough one, but a fully actualized adult can work for nothing other than their own validation.
5. Learn to hear the language of your feelings or your emotions. Uncomfortable feelings stop us from all sorts of things, like saving money, not standing up for ourselves in a meeting and not applying for a promotion.
The discomfort caused by Impostor Syndrome isn’t a literal set of shackles that immobilize you. You can lean into the uncomfortable feelings, honor what they are saying, simply by voicing them while Tapping, and go on to do what you intended to do.
Dealing with your past and your tendencies is a huge step in the right direction. However, there is the present set of challenges to clear up, too.
When you’ve approached the world a certain way for an extended period of time, you develop habits.
If, after reading this article you realize that Imposter Syndrome has been affecting you, your money, and how big you can play all out, and how much money you can earn and save, I invite you to take the first step to overcoming this in the present by booking a Customized Income Goal Assessment Session with me. This 90 minute session has been a game changer, creating results for women who are ready to increase and meet their income goals.
During your Customized Income Goal Assessment, you and I will talk 1:1 while I reveal why your money is behaving the way it is, what resistance you have to meeting your income goals and the exact method I use to assist you to quickly my best recommendation and strategy designed specifically for you, how to move forward towards your income goal, without feeling like an imposter or a fake.
I want you to have clarity, direction, and confidence with my proven process to get you there.
$1 reserves your spot. Once the call has been completed and you have received your customized Assessment, you will be invoiced $97, if and only if, your Customized Income Goal Assessment has provided the clarity you need to move forward.
To book your Customized Income Goal Assessment go to bit.ly/customgoal