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For a long time, I was unaware of a way to fully describe how I’ve felt for a large portion of my adult life. But the one term that kept popping up was “Impostor Syndrome”. I first heard of this phrase a number of years ago during a conversation with a close friend. He was lost at the time and going through what we could consider an existential crisis. I remember he told me that he felt like an impostor in his own life and that the term ‘Impostor Syndrome‘ best suited him. Being the naturally curious person that I am, I looked this up and found that I too checked a majority of the boxes.
For years I’ve often felt like I’m watching my life and achievements from behind a glass wall. Although I did reasonably well in school, and in my life in general, I still don’t feel like I’ve really done much of anything. Everyone else seems to be doing just as well, and often better, than I am. To put all that I am feeling under a big umbrella; I don’t feel like I belong here. I feel like I am an alien who has come to earth and is walking through life zipped into someone else’s body.
“Impostor syndrome causes people to doubt their achievements and fear that others will expose them as fraudulent.”
Those with impostor syndrome may experience the following feelings or thoughts.
- Worry that they will not live up to expectations.
- Avoid extra responsibilities. Instead, they might bury themselves in their work rather than taking on additional responsibility that may highlight their abilities better.
- Get stuck in an ‘impostor’ cycle wherein any success creates this tornado of self-doubt.
- Attribute any of their success to outside factors. They might feel that they need to work harder than most to achieve anything and that ‘luck’ has a big part to play.
- Self Sabotage. They may have low self-confidence and a fear of failure. With this comes a constant internal struggle of achieving success and being afraid that they may be found out. It often prevents them from reaching their true potential.
- Experience job dissatisfaction. They tend to feel unhappy in their jobs.
- Avoid asking for a raise. They deny their worth and don’t feel they deserve it.
- Go overboard on tasks and goal setting. They tend to try to complicate and overachieve on certain tasks due to a fear of failure, and a need to prove themselves.
The Smart Girls Handbook & how it can help you overcome self-doubt.
On March 8th (International Women’s Day) Scarlett Clark released The Smart Girls Handbook: How to Silence Self-Doubt, Find your Purpose and Redefine the Impossible. I received a copy to review earlier in the year and found it to be not only a very insightful read but also inspirational to my own journey.
Scarlett Clark is the creator of The Smart Girl Tribe, an online resource for women all over the world. Through this global hub, women are free to discuss issues that truly matter to them. There is also a podcast which I’ve personally enjoyed on many road trips back home. The content shared not only focuses on inspiration and growth, it also delves into some deeper issues such as anxiety, relationships and family troubles. The Smart Girl Tribe is certainly a site you should check out if you’re in the blogging world, or simply need some motivation in your daily life.
Each chapter of the book is named after one of the Smart Girl Tribe’s promises and contains various exercises to encourage you. These promises include such things as the following.
1) I promise to discover my talent and find my passion.
2) I promise to learn how to deal with the fear of failure.
3) I promise to learn to cope with anxiety and start speaking my truth.
4) I promise to slay the mean girls and build a strong tribe of true friends.
5) I promise to be confident and love myself unconditionally.
6) I promise to be a total #boss.
7) I promise to embrace self-care and take a well-needed pause.
8) I promise to stand up and help change the world.
I’ve lived in a perpetual state of anxiety and feeling like a fraud for a long time. But while reading this book I honestly felt like someone else ‘got me.’ Throughout I found myself ticking many of the similar boxes as Scarlett, reminding me that this wasn’t a journey exclusive to me. There’s something comforting in realising that someone else has felt exactly how you’ve been feeling.
7 Ways to Challenge Impostor Syndrome.
Don’t be ashamed to talk about your feelings of being a fraud. Talking about it can be liberating and can make us feel better in the long run.
Step back and separate what you’re feeling from the facts!
Just because you feel like a fraud, or stupid, or unworthy doesn’t mean it’s the truth. It happens us all from time to time, some more than others, but we need to learn to step back from the situation and accept that we feel this way BUT that doesn’t mean we are those things.
Perfectionism can often be damaging in that it drives us to the extreme. Being a perfectionist is thought to be a key trait in the development of anorexia after all, and look where that got me!
The key is to try not to obsess and just allow things to be as they are. It’s so damn hard, especially when it comes to work or school, but obsessing only drives us to the brink of insanity, and into the feelings of ‘I’m not good enough, I’m a fake.’
Making mistakes is okay!
Everyone makes mistakes. The creation of wasps was a mistake in my eyes and who made them? Well, we’ll not get into that. We can make mistakes too and that’s completely okay.
We need to stop beating ourselves up for, yet again, not being perfect and realise that we’re all humans. The main thing is that we take it on the chin and learn from them.
F**k the rules!
Excuse the language but fuck whoever first said ‘you should know all this by now’ or ‘you shouldn’t ask for help if you’re stuck’. Assert yourself! Ask for help! If you don’t know the answer or you unsure, then ask! You deserve guidance on that project you’re stuck on, you’re allowed to have a bad day and, above all else, you’re entitled to help just like everyone else in the world!
Rewrite the unspoken rules of ‘I can’t ask for this‘…‘I need to be on my game 24-7‘. Who even made them up in the first place!?
Rewire negative self-talk!
We hear it all the time in self-help and therapy; Don’t be so hard on yourself. It’s easier said than done.
That being said a wise woman once said that you should speak to yourself as if you are speaking to your best friend. Would you tell your best friend that they weren’t good enough? That they were a fraud and wait until everyone finds out? No. So why do it to yourself?
We need to rewire our brains to accept ourselves and love ourselves more.
I’ve very little advice about this because I’m my own judge, jury, and executioner on most days. I beat myself to a pulp from morning to night about the stupidest things. I talk about all this self-love and recovery on my blog every day and you can bet that I feel like the biggest fake in the world sometimes. But I shouldn’t because I’m writing this as a way of processing through things and a way of helping others. I am doing something I feel so proud and happy for doing, and just because I’m struggling with the concept of recovery doesn’t make me a fraud for encouraging it.
Treat Yo Self!
You deserve nice things just because it’s a Tuesday! In fact, you deserve that nice scented candle that you want for no other reason than it smells like cookies! Want a new book? Buy a new book! Do you feel like a new haircut or a spa day? Get it.
Treat yourself as if you’re buying gifts for someone you love because you know it will make them feel happy and appreciated.