I was speaking with a client the other day, and she was near tears. “I need to get my sh*t together and step up my game. I just had a call with my Chief of Staff, and she ripped me a new one because she said I should know this stuff and be making the decisions.”
My client went on to share that last week her manager advised her that she and the CoS would discuss this topic and to check back in one week for their decisions. From there my client could proceed with her part of the project.
And that’s what she was doing…following up one week later with the CoS for those decisions.
So how does a competent, skilled, talented individual go from feeling confident, empowered, and valued to feeling self-doubt, worthless, and that she’s just not doing a good enough job?
Imposter syndrome, also called perceived fraudulence, involves feelings of self-doubt and personal incompetence that persist despite your education, experience, and accomplishments.
To counter these feelings, you might end up working harder and holding yourself to ever higher standards. This pressure can eventually take a toll on your emotional well-being and your performance.
The work you put in can keep the cycle going. Your further accomplishments don’t reassure you – you consider them nothing more than the product of your efforts to maintain the “illusion” of your success.
Living in constant fear of discovery, you strive for perfection in everything you do. You might feel guilty or worthless when you can’t achieve it, not to mention burned out and overwhelmed by your continued efforts. Over time, this can fuel a cycle of anxiety, depression, and guilt.
True imposter feelings involve self-doubt, uncertainty about your talents and abilities, and a sense of unworthiness that doesn’t align with what others think about you.
In short, you’ve fooled others into believing you are someone you aren’t.
But what if you find yourself in an environment where your peers or colleagues fail to make room for you or imply you don’t deserve your success?
There’s a big difference between secretly doubting your abilities and being made to feel as if your identity makes you unworthy of your position or accomplishments.
How to deal with it.
If you feel like a fraud, working harder to do better may not do much to change your self-image.
These strategies can help you resolve imposter feelings:
- Acknowledge your feelings.
- Challenge and reframe your unwanted beliefs.
- Build connections and create a network of coworkers for support.
- Avoid Comparing yourself with others.
- Address anxiety, depression, or other emotional distress.
Offering yourself kindness and compassion instead of judgment and self-doubt can help you maintain a realistic perspective and motivate you to pursue healthy self-growth.
And my client?
She tapped into her self-confidence and met with her manager. With confidence she explained that the communication model between the 3 of them was not working and it was actually a roadblock.
She presented an alternative communication plan with the goals of receiving decisions in a timely and accurate manner, lessening meetings, avoiding information hoarding, and empowering each one of them to do their best work.
“Great meeting with my manager!
Thank you for believing in me!”
My reply — “I always believe in you.
I’m so happy that YOU believe in YOU.”
Scientific research reveals a significant statistic on imposter syndrome:
about 70% of people will experience its symptoms at some point during their lives.