Monique West, LCSW-R
3 Steps towards freeing yourself from IMPOSTER Syndrome
Updated: Sep 30, 2021
We all have heard the term "Imposter Syndrome" Imposter Syndrome is also known as 'perceived fraudulence' which means that despite your level of education, expertise, accomplishment and awards of recognition you feel chronically unworthy and incompetent. People with imposter syndrome has a strong conflict between how they see themselves and how they think others perceive them. People with imposter syndrome debase their own intelligence and competence handing it off to good luck, perfect timing or "no big deal" People with imposter syndrome may feel:
My friends are only my friends because they pity me
I do not deserve all the things I have because I did not work hard enough
There isn't anything special about me - my talents are 'no big deal'
They only love me now but they will find my flaws soon and reject me
I am not as good as people think that I am
I do not measure up to the people I work with
Everyone is going to realize I am a fraud
Any praise I get feels undeserved
I cannot celebrate my success because it feels like random luck
If people really knew me they wouldn't want to be friends with me or around me
Here are 3 steps in working through being plagued by the feelings of guilt, shame and anxiety from Imposter syndrome:
Creating Strong Connections
People with imposter syndrome are usually riddled with perfectionistic thinking or black and white cognitions. Turn towards a trusted and positive classmate, co-worker, colleague, friend, etc. and tell them about some of your worries around being an imposter; this requires a certain level of vulnerability - allow yourself to be vulnerable. Keep in mind that you are not the only one who feels a level of unworthiness, insecurity and shame around your level of competence and worth. Sharing your experience with a trusted person can serve to:
Validate and dispel your shame
Encourage and magnify your strengths
Offer you a more balanced perspective
Allow you to also be of assistance in helping another person through their own insecurities
Check in with this person consistently to gain support and challenge your shame story. Listen to their balanced perspective and allow their perspective to dissolve your self limiting beliefs and patterned negative self thoughts. Be sure to be mindful of choosing a support system that can be fairly objective, positive, loving and honest.
Challenge your doubts and fears
Acknowledge when you are feeling overwhelmed, anxious and shameful. Examine the evidence of your shame. When you are feeling like an imposter ask yourself -what I am feeling? What am I thinking? What is the evidence that my thoughts and feelings are true? For example if you are going up for a promotion and feel unworthy and incompetent ask yourself what am I feeling? - I am feeling scared and overwhelmed. What am I thinking? - I am thinking that I will be rejected and denied for this promotion and shown up as a fraud to everyone. What is the evidence that my thoughts and feelings are true?- I do not have solid evidence that I will be denied for this promotion. My supervisors have spoken highly of my performance. I am respected by my colleagues and I am generally responsible in completing my task at work. Given that there is no evidence for my negative self talk - It is safe to say my imposter syndrome is hijacking my confidence right now.
Allow yourself to let go of your self limiting thought patterns. Affirm that imposter syndrome is simply a habitual thought cycle of incompetence, shame, guilt and self-blame.
Practice Daily Affirmations for self worth
Daily Affirmations has been found to be extremely effective in rewiring people's anxiety, chronic negative thought processes and self talk. Remember it has taken some time to practice negative thinking it will take some time to develop positive thinking to make them automatic and permanent. Consider listening and/or repeating daily affirmations at least once per day as you are doing household chores (washing dishes, folding laundry, etc.) practicing daily hygiene (brushing your teeth, shaving, taking a shower, etc.) or walking your dog, driving to work, etc. There are some examples of affirmations to help reverse negative self concepts below, feel free to find others that resounds with you!
Free yourself from imposter syndrome and jump into a life of self confidence and self liberation!
If you are unable to work through feelings of chronic low self worth, shame and blame consider finding a licensed therapist to help you discover the origin of your imposter syndrome and gain solid skills towards lessening your anxiety. You can find a licensed therapist through:
Psychology Today- www.psychologytoday.com
Therapy Den- www.therapyden.com
Therapy for black girls- www.therapyforblackgirls.com
Good Therapy- www.goodtherapy.org