I recently designed a nifty little session on Imposter Syndrome for online training delivery and use alongside one to one coaching. I chose this topic because it continues to amaze me how many people, – talented, experienced, seemingly confident people – I come across during work and life, suffer with feelings of inadequacy, thinking they aren’t up to the job or the situation, or worthy of belonging to the group they are part of. What is it with us!?!
My research into the subject has taken me on a snap tour of psychology, mindset and thought processes. There are some great books, articles and research to draw from. And yet… so many of us continue to live with this nagging feeling of not being quite good enough. It’s not a lack of competence or indicative of poor self-esteem – Some incredibly clever, gifted, successful people admit to these feelings.
Imposter syndrome is not a disorder but a psychological term referring to situations where people have a persistent fear of being exposed as a fraud, or recognised as inept or inadequate in some situation or another. They doubt their accomplishments and may have some belief that any success they have previously had is down to luck (or them pulling the wool over others eyes) The term was coined by clinical psychologists Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes in 1978, when they found that despite having adequate external evidence of accomplishments, people with imposter syndrome remained convinced that they don’t deserve the success they have. The initial research was focused on women in education but has since widened to show that many people, of all sexes, in many settings experience these feelings.
So, the first good news is, if you find yourself feeling like this – you aren’t alone, it’s fairly normal! The second piece of good news is that help is at hand! The session I have developed takes you through the origins of Imposter Syndrome, and offers some self-assessment. We then take a look at the behaviours often exhibited by those with IS and the impact this has on them and others around them. We spend some time exploring the concept of conditional worth and how this might tie in with the feelings you are living with. Society can reinforce a false belief that our worth as a human is conditional – our value depends on what we say and do. IS can kick in when we tie our worth to particular situations or actions and evaluating that can be helpful. We will discuss the emotional support routes you maybe seek out to help you cope – not all of which are helpful. Finally, we then spend time focusing on how to overcome the particular issues you find yourself wrestling with, shape some specific actions to help you improve your feelings and take steps to overcome Imposter Syndrome. Finding out ways to reframe our thinking, plan more helpful approaches and recognise the value we add, is all possible.
It’s not magic … but I do have this helpful short session to tackle something that could really make a difference to your wellbeing and sense of peace…. And given the world we’re living in right now who wouldn’t like more comfort with self!? Happy to talk further if interested to know more. Meanwhile … know that who you are is absolutely good enough.