Identify Your Inner Imposter
Updated: Jul 13
We’ve all had those moments where we’ve accidentally ended up somewhere we weren’t supposed to be. For some of us, it’s been wandering into the restaurant kitchens while looking for the loos. For others, it’s been walking into the wrong meeting / party / wedding(!) It happens, and it’s normal.
What isn’t normal is when this ‘I’m not supposed to be here’ feeling extends into day-to-day life and hangs around for a long time.
It’s called Imposter Syndrome, and it’s very real.
I Don’t Belong Here
Imposter Syndrome is a strange psychological phenomenon that means the brain struggles to connect achievement and progress with reward and recognition. It’s easier to explain if we look at how Imposter Syndrome would manifest itself in a physical way.
You may take a long walk and not know why your leg muscles hurt… even though you’re fully aware that you’ve been hiking for miles. Up a mountain. With a heavy backpack on. But Imposter Syndrome doesn’t manifest physically, it manifests emotionally, and for many of us it means that we don’t feel like we deserve our accomplishments.
For those who suffer with Imposter Syndrome, every day can feel like walking into the wrong room every time they go to work or turn their computer on. They feel like they don’t belong, and this can create major obstacles when it comes to career progression and finding the confidence to take their next steps.
It can also lead to poor mental health such as stress, anxiety and depression creating even more challenges for the sufferer to face and deal with.
Identify Your Imposter Type
People with Imposter Syndrome rarely put themselves out there for career progression or opportunities, even if they possess the necessary skills, strengths, expertise and experience to succeed.
In fact, they may well be the perfect person for that role as those who have Imposter Syndrome regularly drive themselves to work harder or learn more to be an expert in their field, or a perfectionist across their role, or to do everything that is asked for them and more.
If this is beginning to sound familiar then take a moment to look through the 5 types of Imposter Syndrome and see which one (or 3!) resonate:
Don't worry if you feel you feel you are identifying with a few as this is perfectly normal - what I would suggest is looking for your dominant imposter type - the one that regularly appears or is the 'loudest'.
This is key to helping us take on Imposter Syndrome as we can really tackle the causes of it as well as how it manifests itself.
When I work with clients on managing their Imposter Syndrome we take each Imposter Type in turn and delve into the reasons why it is present, when it crops up and what happens when it does.
Once my clients understand where their negative inner critic has come from, it's power over them is often automatically diminished as they have gained a deeper self awareness, put some false beliefs to bed and are much more accepting of themselves.
Some common reasons for Imposter Syndrome are:
The ‘labels’ we were given as children: “The Smart one” “The Talented one” “The Responsible one” “The Good one” “The favourite” which we feel we have to still live up to.
Or perhaps our school grades were never good enough and we constantly had to work hard to meet those high expectations leading us to now constantly proving to ourselves our self-worth.
If we received constant criticism then it is likely imposter syndrome has set in, potentially along with anxiety and low self-esteem.
Imposter Syndrome can also be a response to a childhood trauma and if this has affected you please do seek the appropriate counselling.
We then come up with manageable solutions to help them placate and embrace each of their imposter types and even use their types to their advantage. For example, perfectionists often turn on their perfection type when doing crucial work and then turn it off.
And all of that will be explored in next week's blog folks so come back for more. Until then - don't forget to tell your inner imposter that it is all ok.