Imposter syndrome is something I come across in almost all the women I work with and is a key reason so many women are being held back from achieving the next level of success in their businesses. Did you know as many as 70% of us have experienced Imposter Syndrome at least once in our lives? Sufferers feel that, despite evidence to the contrary, they’re less intelligent, talented or creative than others are led to believe from just witnessing their achievements. They’re waiting for people to uncover their guilty little secret – they attribute their success to pure good luck and opportunity; it has nothing to do with their hard work, talents or abilities.
Symptoms of imposter syndrome
For many, feeling like a fraud and waiting to be found out, are the most common symptoms of imposter syndrome. It can leave you feeling isolated, scared of both success and failure and typically, sabotaging your own success along the way.
Both Albert Einstein and Maya Angelou suffered from imposter syndrome and that’s no surprise. It’s highly prevalent in both high achievers and women. Why? Because both high achievers and women often push themselves further and further, in an effort to feel like they’ve achieved something that will make them feel accepted and/or accomplished.
It holds you back from your dreams
One of the many issues with imposter syndrome though, is the more successful you become, the higher you feel you’re setting yourself up to be found out. This is why it holds so many of us back from business and personal success. You can’t internalise your experiences – so even if you’re achieving lots, you just won’t feel like it’s enough.
This often makes people who suffer from it, prone to anxiety and over-working. Often, this leads to perfectionism in all they do, but they often find themselves also reeling in goals and downshifting desires too, so they never reach their true potential.
Awareness is key
Becoming aware of the symptoms is often the first stage towards making a positive shift. There are steps you can follow to overcome imposter feelings – seven of which are listed below. However, if it’s really deep rooted, you may need to do some deeper work, with the help of a skilled and experience coach like myself.
7 Steps to overcoming imposter syndrome
#1: Get to know your beliefs
Imposter syndrome is often linked to childhood experiences and deep rooted beliefs, as real and perceived experiences from our past can shape our view of ourselves and the world. It could be because you felt you had to downplay your abilities or your successes. You may have been singled out for your achievements, leading you to feel emotionally embarrassed or vulnerable or trying desperately to live up to your parent’s expectations for you.
By understanding what you stand for and what you believe about things, you can take the first step to understanding more about you, your true abilities and your self-worth.
#2: Assess your abilities
Similar to the last step, it helps to know the facts about your strengths, capabilities and achievements. Take the time to sit down and assess your abilities and to boost your confidence, become reacquainted with your talents and key strengths. Whilst you’re there, also make a note of the things you have achieved already. And also remind yourself that those talents and strengths aren’t common, normal and unremarkable – not everyone has them – and they’re what make you special!
#3: Stop comparing yourself to others – it feeds your imposter syndrome!
We’re all on our own journey and are at different stages of that trip. Comparing yourself to others inevitably leads to jealousy, frustration and disappointment. Instead, focus on what you’re learning, what you’re currently achieving and where you’re headed. Have the courage to remind yourself that you’re not perfect, you don’t have to be perfect and it’s ok to be a work in progress. You don’t have to look and act exactly like everyone else.
#4: Listen to how you’re speaking to yourself
Next, notice what script is running through your mind. How are you talking to yourself and what words are you using? Often, imposter syndrome ensures that voice is a negative, inner critic! So become aware of it and take steps to make it more loving and nurturing. Combat that voice by turning it into your inner cheerleader instead. Remind yourself you’ve got this – you’re in control – and you’re going to take charge by changing the record to a more positive one.
#5: Lean in and accept it
Rather than ignoring or pushing down the feelings you’re having, acknowledge them. Name them for what they are – imposter feelings. Notice when it happens to you and how it feels and where you’re feeling it. By accepting it in this way, you’re taking steps towards owning it and taking some of the power out of it. By leaning into it, you can give yourself permission to get a little vulnerable, and maybe even share your feelings with others – you may just be surprised at how releasing that can be for everyone involved.
#6: Use affirmations to counteract the negative thoughts
Affirmations use cognitive restructuring to help you counter and neutralise those negative thoughts with better, more positive ones. So, look to make these your new best friends. Use them to replace any negative thoughts that pop into your head. Write them out, have them on your phone and post them around your house! As a lack of self-worth is at the core of impostor syndrome, some good affirmations for beating it include:
I am enough
I am worthy of love
I am perfectly imperfect
I believe in myself
I am a work in progress, and that’s ok.
#7: Do it anyway
Finally, don’t let imposter syndrome hold you back. One of my favourite phrases is ‘Feel the fear and do it anyway’. If you’re aware of my story, you know I wasn’t always as confident or successful as I now am. I struggled with my own self-worth for years and would often suffer from imposter syndrome. It wasn’t until I did the deep work, followed the steps above and went on to train in working with the subconscious mind, that I was finally able to break free from it. I still have thoughts now that all my success is luck or fluke, however the difference is I do not let those thoughts hold me back from taking action and I am able to consistently grow my business. I wanted to share this with you, not to brag, but to let you know that you’re not alone.
Albert Einstein and Maya Angelou both went on to live successful lives – and you can too. By following the steps above and being willing to put in the work, you too can break free from imposter syndrome and head towards reaching your own full potential.
Don’t just take my word for it. I have worked with many 1:1 clients with Imposter Syndrome with incredible results.
Here is what one client had to say:
“Honestly can’t believe the transformation in myself and my business. The negative self talk has vanished, it is like it has literally been erased from my thought process and been replaced by uplifting, empowering messages instead. In terms of business success I have had my two best months on record now and we aren’t even at the end of the month.”
If you would like to explore the root cause of your imposter and be freed from it within 33 days so you can finally take your business to the next level, check out my 1:1 33 day package. Alternatively, join the 6 month Ultimate Uplevel Academy or simply take my free Success Saboteur Quiz to see how strong your imposter saboteur is.