How to cope with impostor syndrome

Have you ever felt like you’ve gotten where you are because of some crazy fluke? Like you’re totally winging it and waiting for the day others find you out? You’re not alone. This, dear reader, is impostor syndrome and apparently around 70% of us have experienced it. So either a lot of us are impostors, or there’s something else going on.

And I think we all know, we’re not really impostors. We’re really just dealing with a very specific type of self-doubt that likes to pop up when we’re succeeding or trying something new.

For me at least, it comes up when I’m doing something for the first time – being interviewed on a podcast, speaking at an event… launching a coaching business.

When I start feeling something icky like this, I like to get curious. I like to learn all that I can about it so I can raise my awareness and navigate it better.


Photography | Elle Narbrook

So I did a little research into impostor syndrome and found that there are specific personas or traits in people who experience impostor syndrome outlined by Valerie Young, author of ‘The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women’. These are:

Perfectionists. Those who set very high expectations for themselves and feel like failures if they are unable to deliver something 100% perfect.

Experts. Those who feel they need to know everything they possibly can before starting a new project. These people may spend lots of time and money on courses and qualifications to feel they are ‘expert’ enough to do what they want to do.

Natural genius. Those who feel they if they have to struggle and work hard to accomplish something, they aren’t good enough. As they are used to skills coming naturally, working hard feels like a sign they aren’t capable.

Soloists. Those who feel they need to accomplish things alone and if believe if they need to ask for support, then they are a failure.

Supermen/Superwomen. Those who push themselves harder than others in an attempt to prove they’re not an impostor. They feel the need to succeed in all areas and feel stressed if they’re not accomplishing something,

Do any of these resonate with you? The ‘expert’ description is probably the one I most relate to. I mean, I even said earlier in this blog that I like to research and know everything I can about difficult feelings I come up against…

I think once we understand the form our impostor syndrome takes, it can be easier to cope with. As with other form of self-doubt, I’m not sure how realistic it is to try and eliminate it entirely from our lives, but I do think we can turn the volume down.  

So, how do we do that?

vulnerability 1

Acknowledge and name it

Realise what’s happening is impostor syndrome, not ‘truth’. The thoughts you’re having about not being good enough aren’t coming from a place of truth, they’re coming from a place of fear. If you resonate with one of the personas above, call it that.  

Stop engaging with it

Once you recognise it for what it is, you can stop engaging in the dialogue. You can tell yourself this is impostor syndrome and you do not need to pander to it’s questioning.

Go back to your evidence bank

I mentioned this in a recent blog about negative thought spirals, but having an evidence bank of your successes, kind words and/or achievements is such a helpful tool. This could be written in a notebook, a photo album of screenshots on your phone or a folder in you email called ‘evidence bank’.

Reflect on your values and beliefs

Come back to why you’re doing what you’re doing. What’s the big picture here? When you’re clear on your values and beliefs, you can work from a place of confidence.

Having a foundation of self-belief and self-awareness is so important here. Being able to feel impostor syndrome and both quickly and easily shut it down is powerful. When you have this foundation, you have the protection of your inner wisdom and you know you’re not an impostor, despite what your mind tries to tell you.

You gain the power to turn the volume down on impostor syndrome and up on self-belief.

And this is exactly what I’m teaching in my self-worth discovery package. Looking into three key areas together (self-awareness, self-acceptance and self-worth) we’ll tap into your existing power, giving you the tools you need to truly value who you are and what you have to offer.

Find out more on my coaching page and fill in this form to get started.

Which of the personas described here do you relate with? Let me know on the comments, any fellow experts out there?

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How to cope with impostor syndrome

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