Imposter Syndrome: Realise Your Potential

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Denise Gibb

Hi, I’m Denise – Founder of Chat2Change and dedicated counsellor. My mission is to inspire change and enhance mental fitness by helping you overcome emotional roadblocks related to anxiety, grief, loss, and work stress. Let’s work together to transform your challenges into opportunities for growth and well-being.

Unmasking Imposter Syndrome

Imposter Syndrome is the trending buzz of the career world, but what is the real story?

Unmasking Imposter Syndrome - office workers

Imagine yourself delivering a standout performance, but there’s a voice backstage whispering, ‘You’re a fraud.’

This, dear mental fitness navigators, is Imposter Syndrome stealing the spotlight from your success. But it’s not just that. There are also those fleeting moments of doubt, akin to annoying pop-up ads in your mind. These often crop up when you’re taking on new challenges or roles. The trick is in distinguishing these self-doubt ‘pop-ups’ from the paralysing fear of being outed as an imposter. It’s crucial to learn when to dismiss these doubts and when to seek professional guidance for your mental and career wellbeing.

Deceptive play of success

Have you ever questioned your place at the table of success, even amid applause? You’re not alone. This is a common feeling amongst high achievers. Morra Aarons-Mele, in ‘The Anxious Achiever‘, highlights this phenomenon. She’s like the Sherlock Holmes of professional self-doubt. “Success externally doesn’t always align with internal feelings,” she states. Her book provides invaluable insights, revealing that even seemingly confident individuals often balance precariously over a chasm of self-doubt.

Cost of doubt

Imposter Syndrome is not just a personal setback. It dampens careers and stifles innovation. Imagine being cast in a lead role but too intimidated to take the stage. This syndrome affects not just your career but also your personal life, impacting relationships, self-esteem, and overall happiness. Understanding what underlies self-doubt is essential in maintaining mental fitness.

Unravelling Imposter Syndrome

What causes Imposter Syndrome? Like a script based on your life, Imposter Syndrome is a mix of your personality traits, the intense environment of competitive workplaces, and elements of your family narrative. Add to this gender dynamics, and the plot thickens. Women often credit their deserved success to external factors, while men might disguise their uncertainties. Ultimately, feeling like an imposter is a complex story heavily influenced by societal roles. So, what can you do?

Your Imposter Syndrome playbook

Imposter Syndrome Playbook

Understanding the internal mechanics of self-doubt is the first step. Here are strategies to craft a different narrative and confidently take the lead:

• Acknowledge your feelings

Recognise and accept unhelpful ‘imposter’ feelings as a natural part of the journey. These moments usually signify stepping out of your comfort zone, which is essential for growth. Even the most accomplished individuals experience these feelings.

• Redefine success

Expand your definition of success. It’s not just about reaching the top, but also about personal growth, continuous learning, and resilience in the face of challenges. Success is a journey of diverse learning experiences.

• Celebrate achievements

Keep a ‘trophy case’ of your achievements and positive feedback, whether in a tangible journal or a mental checklist. Regularly revisiting your victories helps diminish doubts and strengthens belief in your abilities – especially on tough days.

• Seek support

Conversations with a mentor or counsellor offer new perspectives on your experiences. Valuable insights can help you navigate doubts, offering coping strategies and reinforcing your self-worth. Seeking support is a sign of strength, empowering you with tools to effectively face challenges.

Imposter Syndrome success: real people, real triumphs

Turning to real-life stories for inspiration can be a great help when battling ‘imposter’ feelings. Did you know the following successful people also struggled with imposter thoughts?

  • Maya Angelou: A literary giant’s inner struggle
    Maya Angelou, renowned author and poet, confessed, “I’ve written eleven books, but each time I worry they’ll find out I’ve fooled everyone.” Despite her achievements, Angelou faced constant fear of being exposed as a fraud. Her journey is a beacon for those doubting their success, showing that even celebrated figures face these doubts.
  • Sheryl Sandberg: Leaning into confidence
    COO of Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg, opened up about her Imposter Syndrome experiences. In “Lean In”, she admits to self-doubt, often attributing her success to external factors. Her path to recognising her value and gaining confidence is a powerful example for professionals, especially women, facing similar challenges.
  • Tom Hanks: Hollywood’s relatable star
    Celebrated actor Tom Hanks has spoken candidly about his Imposter Syndrome experiences. He once questioned, “How did I get here? Will they discover I’m a fraud?” His openness shows that this syndrome affects everyone, regardless of their achievements or status.
  • Sonia Sotomayor: From the Supreme Court bench
    The first Hispanic and Latina Supreme Court Justice, Sonia Sotomayor, shared her struggles in “My Beloved World.” Despite her historic accomplishments, she often felt inadequate, proving that Imposter Syndrome can accompany even the most successful individuals.
  • Howard Schultz: Brewing confidence against doubts
    Former Starbucks CEO, Howard Schultz, discussed his early career Imposter Syndrome. Building a global brand, he battled self-doubt and fear of failure. His journey from internal conflict to confident leadership offers lessons in perseverance and self-belief.

Personal stories like these from anxious achievers remind us that our self-perceptions are often more critical than reality. Ultimately, the question is, how can you rewrite your story and command the main stage?

Embracing your potential: Taking centre stage as the real you

In summary, addressing Imposter Syndrome isn’t about changing who you are. Instead, it’s about reframing your internal storyline so self-doubt doesn’t upstage you. You shift the spotlight on your achievements, unique strengths, and potential still to be realised. Whether through Chat2Change Counselling, mentorship, or self-help literature, making these changes means facing doubts courageously.

Conclusion: Curtain call for the imposter

Imposter Syndrome might seem like a formidable bad actor in your life, but you’re the star. With support and understanding of what feeds your self doubt, you can acknowledge your achievements and remove your imposter from the stage for good.

 

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