Imposter syndrome

Imposter syndrome is oh so so real.

And it’s totally going to be fine.

I’m going to help you identify and solve this problem in this blog post.

Let’s start with defining what we’re even talking about…

 

If you want to listen instead of read, here’s the podcast episode that goes along with this post — Imposter Syndrome.

 

Defining Imposter Syndrome

When I was researching for this post, I came across this definition and really love it.

“The imposter syndrome is a psychological term referring to a pattern of behavior where people doubt their accomplishments and have a persistent, often internalized fear of being exposed as a fraud.” – Psychology Today

It’s when you have a story in your head about why you’ve achieved what you have and you validate it externally instead of attributing it to yourself. It’s like there’s a main external reason you’re winning and it’s not you. Example: getting into college because you were on a sports scholarship so really it wasn’t because you were smart enough. Or running a business “full time” but really it’s because your husband financially supported you.

Imposter syndrome is really the feeling of either 1) self doubt, 2) inadequacy, 3) fear, or 4) shame. 

It’s always based in self doubt.

It’s believing you don’t deserve what you have created.

It’s feeling afraid the other shoe is going to drop.

It’s not allowing yourself to be present with what you’ve created.

It’s pushing away something good. It’s immediately anticipating it leaving.

It’s falsely believing you’re unworthy. Your worth is 100%. You just have a low opinion of yourself and that’s totally optional to you.

We do this ALL THE TIME. It’s not just women. It’s everyone. I know male attorneys who feel this way, too.

As long as your goal is bigger than your current life, you’re going to feel inadequate because if you already felt adequate, you’d already have the result.

(Check out my podcast episode on How to Set Goals for great goal setting tips and tricks.)

 

Analogy To A New Outfit

I like to describe imposter syndrome like wearing a new outfit that just “isn’t you”.

It’s like trying on a different type of outfit than you’d not normally wear—something you don’t think you can get away with.

You have to wear the new outfit for a little while around the house, then go out in it and feel completely uncomfortable while you’re wearing it.

Once you wear the outfit a few times, you start to shift. You start thinking you can get away with it. You stop thinking it’s a joke.

It’s just like imposter syndrome.

It’s having an identity shift to believe you’re capable of having the results you created.

 

Examples From My Life

I have three examples of imposter syndrome I want to share with you.

1. Becoming an attorney

When I first became an attorney I literally thought it was not me. There was no way I could actually be an attorney. I didn’t feel like an attorney. I felt like a complete imposter. It took over a year of practicing stepping into this role to really feel like an attorney.

(Side note, if you haven’t read my story about how I quit practicing law, you can read it here.)

 

2. Getting extensions

When I first got hair extensions I just about wanted them to be cut off immediately. Ironically, I had wanted them for so long. Then, upon having them, I felt like it wasn’t me. My hair stylist (being wiser!) insisted I keep them in for at least a week. If I wanted her to cut them at that time, she would.

Sure enough, after a week, I had already adapted to my new weave.

I had to quite literally reidentify as someone with this result.

This is obviously a much smaller example than being a lawyer, but sometimes seeing how this is happening in really small ways in your life can help you see how feeling uncomfortable in a new identity isn’t the end of the world, and you can actually adapt to it without ruining what you created.

 

3. Joining a fitness/country club

Recently, I joined a fitness/health/country club in the city. I wanted to join for so long. What I didn’t expect was how unworthy I felt upon going there for the first month. I literally thought I didn’t belong there. I had to practice being someone who goes to this type of club, knowing that it doesn’t make me better or worse than someone else and that I can just have this result. It took over a month for me to get used to it.

 

Why do you feel like an imposter?

The reason you feel like an imposter is that you’re having an identity crisis.

It’s how you choose to see yourself.

If you decide to change and evolve, you’ll take action and start to become someone new. What you’re believing won’t reflect your reality (cognitive dissonance).

Then you achieve it. But you haven’t fully stepped into this new identity yet. You need to learn how to identify as this new person.

It’s a skill you have to get good at.

It’s when your reality is bigger than your think is.

Note that this could be for a number of reasons including social conditioning or how you were raised.

If you can identify why you have this thought pattern, it’s helpful. But it’s not necessary.

The point is that you can change it.

 

What To Do About Imposter Syndrome

Here are the steps you can take to overcome imposter syndrome…

Step 1: Identify the thought causing it.

It could be something like:

  1. I don’t belong here
  2. I’m not good enough
  3. I don’t belong here
  4. Someone is going to find out I’m fake

Notice it.

Don’t push it away.

Just become conscious of the exact thought.

 

Step 2: Identify the specific feeling.

Is it….

  • Afraid?
  • Fraud?
  • Shame?
  • Worried?
  • Inadequate?
  • Uncomfortable?

Name the feeling. Make sure it’s just one word.

Be with it. Don’t push it away.

 

Step 3: Be kind, compassionate, and curious.

Be kind to yourself. Seek understanding from a place of curiosity (don’t beat yourself up!).

Example: Say something like, “It’s okay. This is new. Nothing has gone wrong. My brain is just freaking out. I wonder why?”

When you approach yourself with compassion and curiosity, you can solve the problem and move forward.

Check out these resources on this topic: 

Step 4: Come up with a new, better, and more neutral thought.

From a place of awareness, you can create a new, better, and more neutral thought.

The thought you choose must be one you believe.

You’ll know if you believe it, because you’ll feel it.

Examples of potential netural thoughts you can try on: 

  • Nothing has gone wrong.
  • Feeling uncomfortable is necessary for growth.
  • I’m learning how to be with this new identity.

 

Step 5: Ask who you want to be in what you created.

With this new result or reality, ask yourself, “who do I want to be in this new reality?”

It’s important you proactively decide who you want to be as this new person. Otherwise, you’ll misinterpret the negative emotion as meaning something has gone wrong, which will lead to self-sabotage (more on that below).

Example 1: 1) Who do I want to be as someone who goes to this club? 2) What do I want my relationship to be like to this club?

Example 2: 1) Who do I want to be as a six figure business owner?

Example 3: 1) Who do I want to be as someone who lost the weight and is in shape?

Answering this question gives you some control over the situation and allows you to choose how you want to step into this new identity.

 

Step 6: Practice your new thought and FEEL it.

You’re practicing HAVING this new thing. Realllllllly visualize it.

Imagine yourself as HAVING that success. Practice being in that emotional state.

IT’S A TRIP.

A little secret: I have only 1 student loan left. They’ll be gone soon. And it’s freaking me out. I’ll be debt free and have a ton of money and my mind is like WTF.

I am this new person who has a lot of money, is debt free, has amazing relationships, and has my dream career. I have to be her without self-sabotaging.

It’s all about “becoming” her and that means HAVING it all. Everything you want. Have it in your head first. Don’t push away the discomfort.

Check out these resources on this topic: 

You’re not an imposter; you’re just new. 🙂 

This is just NEW success or a new chapter that you created. Your brain hasn’t expanded it’s thoughts to having it.

The answer to this: compassion, self-confidence, self-respect, self-love, happiness.

Additional Mindset Resources:

 

What Happens If You Don’t Overcome Imposter Syndrome

If you don’t acknowledge and bring awareness to what’s happening, you will push away your success.

You will self-sabotage.

Have you ever done this? Say you have a new job and you feel undeserving of it, so you literally wreck it because you don’t feel worthy.

YOU DON’T NEED TO DESERVE ANYTHING TO HAVE IT. YOU ARE WORTHY. WE ALL ARE. WE ARE HUMAN BEINGS. ALL WITH DIFFERENT EXPERIENCES.

From a place of having enough, you can give it away. If you push it away through force from lack, you’ll create more lack.

You won’t go after new opportunities or put yourself out there in a meaningful way to grow.

Don’t let imposter syndrome get in your way.

 

A Final Note!

As long as your goal is bigger than your current life, you’re going to feel inadequate because if you already felt adequate, you’d already have the result.

Know this.

Practice overcoming imposter syndrome by following the steps above. At each level of growth and success you’ll need to do this.

It’s 100% always worth it.