Have you ever stepped into the VIP room and yet underneath you’ve felt undeserving of your success and happiness? Perhaps you may feel crippled by the fear that, despite your success, achievements and efforts, you have been lucky, and you will be found out to be fraud?
If you feel like this, you’re not alone! Imposter Syndrome (as it is known) is a common experience, yet one that evokes a huge amount of shame. Ella Fitzgerald once shared her feelings that her success was entirely owed to the composers who wrote the songs! Yet, contrary to her own beliefs (or lack of self-confidence) she was and still is one of the greatest female singers of our time! Kate Winslet openly shared her fears of not being good enough prior to filming or photo shoots. Whilst the author Maya Angelou was crippled with fear that it was luck that she had written such incredible books and that each time she would be found out to be a fraud.
Often we are taught that our shadows are the demons, and yet more often than not it’s the power of our true potential and light, which so often terrifies us. As a safety net, we may feel the urge to return to the safety of self-sabotaging, listening to our limiting beliefs or allowing our past experiences and stories to dictate our future.
Yet why should you be taken hostage by imposter syndrome? Here are 10 top tips to begin to acknowledge and celebrate your worth and to kick fear and imposter syndrome in the pants!
1. DON’T LET YOUR PAST DICTATE YOUR FUTURE
Our past present and future experiences create memories, feelings patterns and stories, which shape how we respond to situations and are replayed unconsciously and consciously throughout different situations. Yet, whilst these stories may feel familiar and safe, they can also be controlling, intrusive and misleading. Honestly ask yourself, how true is it that you are not deserving of your success and happiness? When have you succeeded before and how can you do it again? What is preventing you from fully embracing your efforts and achievements?
2. YOU ARE NOT ALONE!
Take comfort from the fact that everyone (and I mean everyone) experiences imposter syndrome at some point in his or her life. From the public figure on our screens, stages or newspapers who appears to be seemingly confident but behind closed doors it’s a very different story. To a top professional who has to successfully lead by example, and yet underneath is terrified that they are not good enough. To the new mother who doubts her natural ability to successfully nurture her baby.
3. CALL ITS BLUFF
Whilst it’s difficult to openly acknowledge your vulnerability, it can be a relief and empowering. Talk about your experiences to someone you trust. By naming it and talking about it, you will be able to view it from different perspectives, to call its bluff and to ultimately disempower the hold it has over you.
4. ACKNOWLEDGE YOUR ACHIEVEMENTS
Acknowledge and embrace the fact that you have had a significant role, which has led or is leading to your success and happiness. If you don’t yet believe yourself, why not ask your friends and family to write down all the qualities they love about you in a ‘thumbs up’ book. This will provide written evidence from others to counteract your negative voice every time it appears. Otherwise, why not seek an honest perspective from someone you trust and admire.
5. TURN THE SPOTLIGHT AWAY FROM YOURSELF
Imposter Syndrome is driven by our own fears and expectations of feeling judged. So why not turn the spotlight away from yourself and ask yourself what value am I giving to others? By turning your attention away from yourself you will feel relieved of the intense pressure you are placing upon yourself and you will instead focus your attention to the task at hand.
6. MAKE FRIENDS WITH FAILURE
Socially and culturally we don’t reward failure, but we do reward success and a job well done! However, the pressure to be perfect and to be seen to be on top of your game 100 % of the time can be experienced as detrimental to your short and long-term confidence, health and wellbeing. More often that not, striving for perfection prevents and stunts progress and your true inner voice and potential.
In order to tackle this, you need to begin to make friends with failure. Have you ever heard the saying ‘keep your friends close and your enemies closer?’ Well this is the time to embrace failure and to make it your friend! Acknowledge and understand your own story and how you respond to failure. Then once you’ve called it truths, you can move forwards knowing that failure doesn’t have to shut doors, but instead it can open them.
7. DON’T BE THE BEST SECRET KEEPER
Often when we feel low in confidence and we doubt ourselves, we can feel the need to either hide away or to not fully show up as ourselves.
However, if this is you, consider how you’ll not only be doing yourself an injustice by missing great opportunities but how other people will also be cheated out of experiencing the value you can bring to their lives! We all add value whether it’s big or small and we have a responsibility to share this.
8. FREE YOURSELF FROM THE PRESSURES OF EXPECTATION
It’s a tough being a role model or expert! People look to you for the right advice, knowledge, skills and answers. Yet, the fear of not being able to perform to the best of your ability may feel crippling, as you fear being judged or ‘found out’. Take the pressure of yourself by acknowledging your achievements and skills, but also acknowledge that you are also only a human being too. Be authentic with yourself and others. By occasionally showing and sharing that you don’t always have all the answers and you can’t achieve perfection all of the time, you are taking the pressure of yourself, whilst still being a great role model!
9. WHY TRY TO FIT IN WHEN YOU WERE BORN TO STAND OUT?
You are unique and you add value to the world by being yourself. So why worry about what other people think? And yet whilst it’s true to some extent that we need to meet people’s expectations, they shouldn’t overwhelm you or your values. However, if you find yourself crippled with fear of being judged, perhaps it’s time to review whether you’re pleasing yourself or others? And if it’s the latter, what would help you to reconnect to your values? When you connect with your true values, you show up as yourself (warts and all!) and from there you will naturally attract the right situations and tribe towards you.
10. THE REAL TRUTH: NO ONE KNOWS WHAT THEY ARE DOING 100% OF THE TIME
The reality is that whilst people may seem confident, in control and unfaltering, they are not always like this! We are all learning, we all fail, we all struggle and we all succeed. However, if you can learn to understand and embrace your own strengths and vulnerabilities in order to change your tactic and ride the waves of life, you will truly begin to free yourself from shame and fear in order to acknowledge and embrace all that you deserve!
*Samantha Morris is a Certified and Qualified Life Coach and an Integrative Art Psychotherapist.