Do people tell you that you're intelligent? Good at your job? Do others ask for your help and your opinion and really listen to what you say? Do you believe them... or are you one of the enormous number of people - particularly women - who spend their lives feeling like an imposter just waiting to be discovered?
Answer the following questions to discover if you could be suffering from Imposter Syndrome:
- Do you attribute your successes to good luck?
- Do you feel less competent and intelligent than others?
- Do you agonise over every piece of criticism and even the tiniest flaw or setback?
- Do you think that if you can do it, anybody can (and probably better than you!)
- Do you look back at your past and find it easy to remember the failures while dismissing your successes?
- Do you think it's just a matter of time before you are 'found out'?
Guess what - if you did answer yes to those questions, you are not alone! Many amazingly successful people from CEOs to politicians, physicians to actors, suffer from this condition where you are convinced that you are not as good as others think. Jodie Foster, on winning her Oscar, said that she was convinced that someone was going to come knocking on her door demanding that she return the award because they had meant to give it to Meryl Streep! Kate Winslet confesses that sometimes she wakes up in the morning and thinks, 'I can't do this... I'm a fraud!'. Oh, and talking of Meryl Streep - she once confessed in an interview, 'I don't know how to act anyway, so why am I doing this?'.
Now you know you have imposter syndrome, you know that you are in good company, what are you going to do about it? Here are 4 ideas to help you embrace reality and realise that you are just as competent and talented as others say!
1. Get feedback. Ask 5 people whose honesty and opinion you trust to tell you why they value you, what your top strengths are and what one change you should make. Ideally, they should give you this information verbally and pause between each answer so you can mentally repeat what they say and let it really sink in.
2. Visualise a timeline stretching out in front of you to represent your life. Stand on it at the point which is your present day and walk slowly back into your past paying attention to every success and accomplishment. Go all the way back as far as you can remember and really focus on all your achievements. Once you are at the point where you realise you first felt like an imposter stop and talk to your younger self. Tell them about the skills you know you have now, the great feedback you have been given and how there is no need to spend life feeling like a fake. Be kind to your younger self. Then walk back to the present day, noticing those successes again and picking up all the talents and strengths you see that you have along the way. Bring these talents and strengths back to the present day and know that you can utilise them at any point in the future.
3. Listen to the way you talk to yourself and realise that it is a pattern, and that you can change it. Whenever you catch yourself undermining your skills, STOP! Remind yourself of the feedback you have had. Remind yourself of the skills you collected on your walk along your timeline and think what you would tell a friend in your situation. A friend you value and respect. Choose to start being kinder to yourself.
4. Get confident! Start pushing out of your comfort zone - tiny steps are better than staying at home worrying if you are good enough. Set yourself goals which scare you a little and which you can do quickly and celebrate your achievements. Take time to mentally rehearse what you need to do and once you have achieved your goal, take more time to identify the strengths you demonstrated while getting there. Play the successes back in your head as though you are watching a film to really anchor how you feel when you are in a positive state. The more of these successes you can store in your memory bank, the more your confidence will grow and the easier it will become to access the mindset of success. When you are faced with a new challenge, visit your memory bank for examples of times you have already succeeded and know that you have all the resources you need to succeed again.
Does this resonate with you? Decide to take control and create a different future. I'd love to hear how you get on!