Have you ever had the feeling of not being worthy of your success? Like if people knew the real you, they would find out you’re a fraud or a fake and would strip you of your title, your awards, or your position?
This feeling has a name: the imposter syndrome. No matter how much evidence there is that you are competent and capable, the imposter syndrome leaves you feeling as though you’ve only achieved success due to “luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others” into thinking you’re smarter and more skilled than you really are1.
Why is this a problem? Despite the fact that we aren’t really able to enjoy our successes, celebrate our accomplishments, and accept others’ praise graciously, allowing the imposter syndrome to dictate our lives may set off a chain reaction of events that not only harm us, but others as well.
The imposter syndrome can cause us to belittle ourselves into thinking we aren’t worthy. When we think we aren’t worthy, we cover up our talents and skills. We aren’t the first to raise our hands to take on the big work projects. We aren’t willing to offer our gifts and brain power to solve problems. We end up hoarding our skills and talents instead of using them to benefit others and the world around us.
What do we do in light of this? How do we attempt to break free from the imposter syndrome, since it tends to rear its ugly head at very inopportune times?
I believe the first step to changing thought patterns is to start listening. Listen to what you’re actually saying to yourself. When you win that award at work, are you saying things like, “Well, I happened to be in the right place at the right time,” or are you accepting the award with gratitude?
You can also help change your thought patterns by calling on those close to you to tell you the truth about yourself and your accomplishments, successes, and talents. Writer, speaker, and behavioral investigator, Vanessa Van Edwards states that invoking “cheerleader friends” to remind us of who we are and the things we’ve accomplished can help change the imposter syndrome dialogue in our heads2.
Finally, reminding ourselves of what is at stake can help us shake the imposter syndrome.
If we begin to think about all the people who benefit from when we use our strengths, stepping out in boldness to help others and bring good to the world by being fully ourselves becomes much more crucial.
As Marianne Williamson so wisely says, “Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you…and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same3.”
Who needs to see you be…YOU? Who needs to know that something seemingly impossible can be possible because you’ve done it?
Let’s join the fight against imposter syndrome-in ourselves and in our loved ones-so we can all let our lights shine.
Written By Brittni Paris, SFC Blogger
1 Retrieved on November 28, 2017 from the Wikipedia wiki: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impostor_syndrome
2 Imposter Syndrome: Stop Feeling Like a Fraud. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OnYWEHITOlc&t=4s
3 Williamson, M. (1996). A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course of Miracles”. Retrieved from https://www.goodreads.com/quotes/928-our-deepest-fear-is-not-that-we-are-inadequate-our