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Taming Imposter Syndrome

Imposter syndrome has become a buzz word over the last couple of years. As a Career+Life Strategist this brings me immense joy; my elation is rooted in the fact that it is normalizing the ability to openly talk about the nasty, fear-crippling emotions that can accompany imposter syndrome. Absolutely every human experiences imposter phenomenon along the journey of life. EVERYONE. Sometimes you know when it is rising, other times it can catch you completely unaware freezing you in the moment.

Imposter syndrome is feeling inadequate even though your successes can be traced to ass-busting hard work, not luck. I do believe in the theory of being in the right place at the right time, but it takes action to take advantage of opportunities when they arise.

Imposter syndrome robs you from accepting that you put in the work to create something amazing. And some people aren’t afforded the opportunity and/or social capital to be in the right place at the right time. Imposter syndrome can feel like the “fraud police” are always standing outside the door just waiting to expose you as a phony. It doesn’t just apply to the world of work either; imposter syndrome can affect you as a partner, parent, caregiver, volunteer – every space you occupy on your journey. I call these emotions “gremlins.”

Imposter syndrome is expensive. Gremlins can cause you to eliminate yourself from the career progression pool because it causes you to look for that one bullet point that excludes as an incredible candidate instead of looking at the twelve bullet points make you an incredible asset.

It can manifest itself in taking class after class, credential after credential, so you feel like worthy of taking on the next step you yearn for – to no avail because you are always chasing the next level of worthiness. It’s expensive because you accept the first offer instead of negotiating the true value you bring to the table, so you settle for less pay, PTO, bonuses, etc. Imposter gremlins tells you to play small in your professional toolkit; to not talk about your accomplishments, innovations, and strengths.

Imposter syndrome is draining. You are working more hours than others to prove your worth. You see downtime (in whatever way that fuels you) as being unproductive and wasteful. It causes you to say, “Does that sound right?” when you know damn well you have the facts straight. It is draining because you live in constant fear of disappointing others and living up to expectations. Gremlins can make you stay where you are because it is safe.

I honor that you are feeling all the things that imposter syndrome manifests; with all parts of my being I believe that. I also want you to know that gremlins are embedded in negative self-talk bullshit that you can learn to tame! Let’s talk about a few small things that you can put into place to keep the gremlins from being so loud:

  • Name It to Tame It - Give your IP saboteur a name and allow it 3-minutes of talk before you shut it down. Mine happens to be Mrs. Moore, my 2nd grade teacher, who is the first person I can recall that made me question, doubt and compare. I let her talk so I can understand and then I shut her down.

  • Personal Inventory - Go through those old files, rack your brain, look up those reviews - write down your skills and accomplishments. Put a reminder in your calendar to do this monthly.

  • Smile File - What do your clients, peers, friends, and family tell you that you are amazing at? Write it on sticky, print it out – write it on your wrist. Put them in a file to revisit, post them on your exit door. Remind yourself that you are badass.

In closing I would like to gift you three immensely wise questions from my therapist (we all need tribes) that I live by:

  1. Is it true?

  2. What is in my control?

  3. What vulnerability or core value is making me feel this way?


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