How to Treat Imposter Syndrome — Sue Belton

How can you tell if you have imposter syndrome?

  • “Oh my god, they’ve hired me. What the hell have they done?”
  • “Have I oversold myself?”
  • “Everyone else here is better than me, smarter than me.”
  • “I’m not good enough and I’m going to get found out.”

How does imposter syndrome affect you?

What effect can imposter syndrome have on your personal life?

What about your business life?

How can you bust imposter syndrome?

  1. Spend a couple of moments noting down what resonates with you from above. This initiates the awareness of imposter syndrome. Then, write down what impact it has on your life. What real, tangible things does it cause to happen? For example, perhaps not being present in your children’s life and causing a rift between you and your partner. Then write down what this could cost you in the future.
  2. Imposter syndrome can be caused by things you have picked up along your journey in life, such as what you’ve had to do as a child, to feel valued, and to feel loved. What conditions of worth did you have as a child, or growing up? Has it been drilled home that you must work hard, and always put others first by a pushy parent? Then it’s time to identify your imposter's voice. Commonly this can be a parent or teacher. It may not be someone specific and could be an invented character. Every time the imposter voice enters your head, attribute it to them and then internally ask yourself, how is it serving me to listen to this voice right now? If it isn’t, send it on its way.
  3. This is somebody else’s beliefs that you’ve taken on as your own because, at some point in your life, you had to do something to belong or feel loved. After it’s been sent on its way, the first thing to do is to take care of yourself. Reduce your stress levels by getting better sleep, seeking nutrition and exercise. You have to make a commitment to your self-care because when you’re in full-on stress, fight or flight mode, it’s game over. When you’re tired and stressed, you’re just going to go with the old behaviour.
  4. Then the next crucial step is to recognise and acknowledge your achievements. Mark each achievement and write it down for evidence. Usually, imposter syndrome has you dismiss it, and push it away. When you get feedback from others, record it and hold on to it. Build an evidence library. Go back through old emails and feedback and collate the evidence.
  5. When it comes to perceived failures, check in with someone else and also check whether it’s just a skills gap. For example, if you think you’re not great at public speaking, get some public speaking training. It doesn’t mean that you’re a fake or a fraud. Ask clients what you do well and if they can give examples. This needs to be from a credible source, such as someone you respect and admire.
  6. Afterwards, be conscious of that critical voice in your head and replace it with one that’s kinder. Replace it with one that you would use with a good friend. So, when that imposter syndrome kicks in, when you’ve separated it out, replace it with a voice that says “Hey, you’ve got this. You’re good enough.”
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