Why your imposter syndrome is really your best friend

Feeling like an imposter isn’t pleasant, but it can help us transform ourselves for the better.

What is imposter syndrome?

Imposter syndrome is a psychological term which refers to the inability to internalize your accomplishments. Those who suffer from it struggle with severe and crippling self-doubt no matter how successful they may be. Even if they achieve every single goal they set out for themselves, they have a persistent and internalized fear of being a fraud or being exposed as a fraud.

When someone suffers from imposter syndrome, they remain convinced that they don’t deserve their hard-earned success.

On one end, these people brush things off as good luck, but on the reverse side, those with I.S. can push their modesty to the brink by denying themselves credit for anything good that happens in their lives.

Who experiences imposter syndrome?

Decades of studies have come to some pretty interesting conclusions on imposter syndrome and those who are most affected by it. While initial research indicated that women were more impacted by I.S. than men, new research now shows that both men and women suffer from the condition equally.

Why your imposter syndrome is really your best friend.

Though there’s a million self-help articles out there promising to help “cure” your imposter syndrome, you never really get over that fear of not being good enough. To be human is to doubt, but that doubt it a powerful catalyst for change.

Feeling like an imposter means you’re challenging yourself.

Growing as a person means pushing yourself into new and unexplored territories. Change is a strange thing and it can make us feel uncomfortable and ill-at-ease. It’s a good thing though, and a sure-fire sign that we’re moving in the right direction.

Feeling like an imposter means you’re gaining experience.

Aristotle once said, “The more you know, the more you know you don’t know.” Feeling like you’re out of your depth is a sign that you’re exploring new territory and gaining new experience that will make you more powerful and more well-rounded.

Feeling like an imposter keeps your ego in check.

Though it can be hard to see, there is big silver lining to our feelings of inadequacy. There is speculation that imposter syndrome is actually a natural response that allows us to keep our egos in check.

When your ego takes over, you get complacent and when that happens you avoid potential unknowns and stop looking for better opportunities.

Imposter syndrome allows us to keep reality in better focus and also allows us to stop taking our opportunities for granted. When we open up to learning new things we can continue to sharpen our skills. Letting your ego take over, though? That’s a one-way ticket to staying stuck.

Signs you’re living with imposter syndrome.

Imposter syndrome has a funny way of manifesting in both our personal and professional lives. There are a lot of symptoms that you’re living with imposter syndrome and some are harder to spot than others. If any of these symptoms sound familiar, it might be time to check your perspective.

Symptoms of imposter syndrome:

  • Failing to start or finish projects regularly.
  • A playing down of achievements and an inability to internalize accomplishments.
  • Fear of being “found out” or being exposed as a fraud.
  • Overworking or “burnout” as a result of needing to prove that you’re “enough”.
  • Avoiding feedback — even if it’s good.
  • Second guessing decisions.
  • Turning down new opportunities.
  • An inability to ask for help.

How to use your imposter syndrome for good.

It’s all well and good to tell you about using your I.S. for good, it’s another thing showing you how to do it. Getting past insecurities (wherever and however they manifest) is never easy, but it’s often the first step in getting back in touch with our authentic selves.

1. Normalize and manage.

The first step in turning your I.S. into a tool is normalizing it. Realize that you’re not alone and that almost every single person on the planet experiences what you’re experiencing right now.

2. Figure out your leverage.

A lot of the reframing that we do when working to overcome our imposter syndrome centers around changing the way we let our inner voices respond. Rather than thinking “Oh no, everyone here is smarter than me,” you have to train yourself to think, “This is a great learning opportunity.”

3. Focus on actions over identity.

It’s easy to get caught up on our identities, especially in this social media age. Are our identities really what define us, though? Or are the projections we put into the world less meaningful than the actions that create the world around us?

An overfed ego is a blind ego; one that is incapable of seeing the work that actually matters.

By letting go of this “identity” we let go of our need to be something we’re not, and find our way back to who we truly are (thus, letting go of a need for imposter syndrome at all.)

4. Build a support network.

Our friends are the reflection by which we see ourselves in the world. Trusted friends and confidantes are a great way to get reliable and honest feedback that can help us accept the reality of our strengths and successes. Use your feelings of insecurity to build a quality support network that can help keep you grounded but reminded of your greatest qualities.

5. Get some clarity.

Feeling insecure is often sign that we’re unsure about what the future holds. If you’re feeling like you’re a fraud because you don’t know what’s coming next, take a step back and take a deep breath. Rather than panicking, use this time to get some clarity and figure out exactly what you want and what you need.

Bonus: The Witness Exercise

Sometimes, it’s not enough to see the big picture; we need help getting to the final destination with concrete examples of how to reshape our fears.

What it’s about.

The Witness Exercise is all about getting in touch with your true self through practicing what is called meta-consciousness.

The process.

First, find a quiet place where you can sit undisturbed and free from distractions. Bring a journal with you or, if it’s more comfortable, a video or audio recording device.

Putting it all together…

Sinking or shining are only separated by our own perceptions of reality. When we lose sight of our authentic selves, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by fear. This fear and insecurity can make us feel not only like we aren’t good enough, but as though we are frauds — a toxic and corrosive mindset to have when it comes to acknowledging and maximizing our success.

NLP-MP | Certified Coach | I write about relationships, psychology, and the growth mindset. Founder @ Dragr LLC. 📱: about.me/EBJohnson

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