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  • Writer's pictureRoo Davies

Success & The Imposter Syndrome Curse

As counter intuitive as it seems, the more that you achieve and the further you progress in your career, the louder your inner imposter can become. The more responsibility and credibility you garner, the more vulnerable you can feel.

Do you ever feel like a fraud? Maybe you think that your supporters have an overinflated view of your abilities and you’re terrified that you’ll get found out at any moment. You could feel lost and out of your depth.

This blog explores why this happens and shares techniques for how you can combat imposter syndrome.


What is imposter syndrome?

Put simply, imposter syndrome is when you don’t feel enough. Your perception of your worth and competence is warped. In other words, it is... ‘Not Enough’ Thinking.

  • Not clever enough.

  • Not experienced enough.

  • Not confident enough.

  • Not respected enough.

  • Not connected enough. And so, the list goes on and on…

Here are some typical narratives you’ll likely hear from your inner imposter…

“I feel like a fraud.”
“I don’t deserve this position.”
“My achievements are down to luck or because someone helped me.”
“I don’t belong here.”
“I’m not as good as people think I am.”

But why does this happen?

Why can your inner imposter really crank up the volume when you are doing well?

It doesn’t make sense right, especially when you’re being offered great opportunities and progressing with your career.

It’s because your brain freaks out! It becomes emotionally hijacked and tells you this…

“You Have Further to Fall. You Have More to Lose.”

As human beings we’re lucky to have an incredible processor between our ears. Your brain is amazing, enabling your body and mind to achieve so much. However, your brain is hard wired to avoid danger. That combines with it's lack of automatic contextual awareness - not being able to distinguish between a perceived risk and an actual risk means that your brain can quickly be hijacked with emotions.

This response is well meaning. Remember your brain wants to keep you safe and alive but in reality, this emotional response is out of context and therefore unhelpful.

This 'false' fear and anxiety awake your inner imposter and feelings of being a fraud, unprepared and not capable start to rumble.

3 ways you can tackle imposter thinking

1. Resist Making Stuff Up!

Part of our brain’s incredible ability is its creativity and imagination. Fantastic for problem solving, but these attributes can also be your downfall if you’re not careful. You can get caught up creating the most elaborate scenarios of what may happen in the future, and they’re generally not helpful.

You may also be super quick to jump to assumptions, not only about how situations will play out but what others will think about you and your abilities. This fiction serves one purpose – to undermine your self-confidence and trigger self-doubt. These are best friends of imposter syndrome, so you need to challenge the fiction.

Remember that your incredible brain has simply made up stuff that will most probably never happen.

Points to remember:

  • Be mindful if you’re creating fiction. Switch on your self-aware radar and do a ‘fact check’ of what you know. This will help you spot if you’re making stuff up.

  • Remember why your mind can be unhelpful at times. It’s an automatic fear response creating stories that aren’t true.

2. Ask Yourself: What Would I Say to a Friend or colleague?

Imagine that a friend or colleague voiced their lack of confidence and doubts about a situation. How would you respond?

Odds are that you wouldn’t dive straight in, agreeing that they’re right to feel incompetent, that they’re simply winging it and on a path to disaster!

Instead, you would take time to consider what you know, approaching the situation with rational thinking. Logical reflection, asking questions, examining the facts and exploring the reasoning.

You would also be kind and considerate when responding. You wouldn’t patronise, snigger or go on the attack.

Now compare that response with how you interact with your own inner imposter. Often you will be thinking with your emotions. Your brain is firing automatic responses to the uncertainty of the situation rather than taking a step back to rationally assess the situation.

Points to remember:

  • Engage your rational brain, logical thinking will help you take control of your thoughts and feelings and rein in unhelpful negative thinking.

  • Be kind to yourself, you would never speak to a friend in the way that you sometimes speak to yourself.

3. Know Your Zone!

Your comfort zone is where you feel confident and self-assured. Imposter syndrome will very rarely raise its head when you’re in this zone.

Your inner imposter turns up the volume when you’re uncomfortable. When going after new opportunities, learning a new skill, experimenting with new ideas, operating in different situations, there is an element of the unknown.

Remember your brain’s automatic response associates the unknown with danger – it is hard wired to keep you safe. It doesn’t recognise that being out of your comfort zone can be hugely beneficial and fulfilling.

To combat that, focus on the potential positive outcomes and embrace stretching in your challenge zone knowing that’s where you and your business can grow. Aim to continually expand your comfort zone, so you feel confident doing heaps of stuff in different situations.

Points to remember:

  • Your inner imposter gets louder when you’re uncomfortable; recognise that as a sign that you’re challenging yourself, which will ultimately help you grow.

  • Focus on the positive of being outside of your comfort zone – rather than concentrate on what could go wrong, instead think about what could go well.

Why is it important to tackle imposter syndrome?

When you’re feeling “not enough” it affects how you engage and perform as well as dampens your outlook and mood. You doubt yourself, struggle to make decisions, play it safe and compare yourself against others who you deem to be smashing it.

It is not a fun place to be and overtime will damage how you operate inside and outside of work. You can claim back control and challenge your inner imposter.


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