One of the biggest barriers high performers come to me for help with is overcoming feeling like an impostor. That’s right, we’re talking Impostor Syndrome.
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It’s a vicious cycle, as even though there’s clear tangible evidence that they’re great at what they do, the stories in their head keep them trapped, going through the motions and comparing themselves to everyone else, constantly seeking validation and unable to acknowledge their achievements.
What is the Impostor Syndrome?
Impostor Syndrome (Impostor/Imposter are both correct) is a psychological thought pattern often found in high performers, where even though they have a track record of results, they still land up doubting themselves and feeling like a fraud. Often they will attribute their successes to luck, and are forever living with the fear that they are going to be “found out”.
What does the Impostor Syndrome it feel like?
To quote this article, it’s “when you’re most vulnerable, all your doubts come crashing in around you”. You are at a point where you believe the stories in your head and you ignore any results you’ve ever achieved.
“I feel like a fake.”
Interestingly, this isn’t just driven by a fear of failure, as it can also be as a direct result of a fear of success… Imagine being in line for a new promotion and being terrified of the thought of more responsibilities. So you let your performance suffer, to make sure you never get the job in the first place.
Essentially what happens is that people can be pushed to a level of fear where they sabotage themselves to avoid seeing what they are truly are, leaving their comfort zone or to avoid the new responsibilities, judgements or discomfort.
How Impostor Syndrome can affect daily life?
Think of it
It’s stopping you from progressing as fast as you could, earning what you should, or living the life you want…
This isn’t limited only to professional performance though, as it can also directly affect your relationships, how you feel about yourself, your self-worth and happiness in who you are, holding you back and causing you to settle for less than you desire.
Yet on the times you do get results, the doubts sink in, often leading to thoughts of…
“I just got lucky.”
I call this “The Curse of the High Performer”, as rather than performing at full potential, people land up with scattered thoughts, with self-doubt causing them to either waste time procrastinating or over-preparing (perfectionists, I’m pointing at you).
Even though you might get recognition for our ability or performance, you still have a self-imposed expectation to reach unobtainable standards.
Meaning that even once you get results, you’ll often view the outcome as a matter of luck, dismissing positive feedback and allowing increased success to intensify the feeling of being a fraud, where at any moment you could be exposed for our perception of who you are.
Statistically speaking, it should. Turns out up to 70% of us will experience the Impostor Syndrome at least once in our lives and it’s been found this has affected some of the greatest minds in history (including Einstein).
So the majority of us will have experienced this feeling at least once, but without taking a proactive approach to conquering it, it can leave us in a situation where we will continue carrying it forward.
This can have a tremendous effect on our professional careers, letting it sabotage us from reaching the level we could and lowering our overall quality of life.
How do you cope with the Impostor Syndrome?
The Impostor Syndrome can affect people in different ways, and of course, the intensity can vary. For anyone with Impostor Syndrome who considers climbing up the corporate ladder, growing their own business, or just enjoys the path they’re on it’s important to know that you can learn to manage it, its effects your our mental health, and ultimately its impact on your professional success.
Some measures may include:
- Finding ways to gain internal validation, so you can accept yourself for who you are and regain your self-worth, without the need for external reassurance
a self-awarenessof what triggers you, why you’re getting in your own way and what’s holding you back
- Realigning your internal bar and expectations, to remove the judgement placed on yourself and help move away from being a perfectionist
- Gaining clarity on who you truly are, what you want and where you are going
- Having the right routine, accountability and support in place to keep you on track
This handful of tactics are designed to involve getting to the root cause of why you think and feel the way that you. It’s what I use with all my clients who are affected by the Impostor Syndrome. Essentially, we use the process of Self-Belief reprogramming to permanently remove the beliefs that are holding them back.
Think of it like a kid finding out that Santa isn’t real: we had this belief, but once we saw it wasn’t real, it’s gone, permanently replaced with a new belief and view of the world.
“70% of us will experience the Impostor Syndrome at least once in our lives.”
Learning to self-reflect
Going through the process can be pretty overwhelming, especially if you’ve been battling it for an extensive period of time; certainly not everyone knows how to reflect upon their own self-deprecating thoughts, to learn to focus on what’s important and on top of that, learn to become more objective.
But hopefully this has helped you understand better what the Impostor Syndrome is, how it manifests, how it can affect you and how to make a start at getting over it.
Part of breaking free may be realising there’s no shame in seeking help.
So if Impostor Syndrome and “The Curse of the High Performer” is stopping you from reaching your true potential, then drop me a message or comment below, and let’s see if I can help.
Or alternatively, if you are ready to get out of your own way, as you shatter through the procrastination, perfectionism and feeling like a fraud, to finally reach your true potential…
Then I’ve put together a free coaching video on:
In this video you’ll discover how to get out of your own way, so that you can stop holding yourself back, feeling like a fraud and finally take control of the life you’ve always wanted.
So if you are ready to earn more money, gain more confidence, get more power and have stronger relationships, this is for you.