Feel Like A Fake? 3 Easy Steps to End The Impostor Syndrome
Noun: a person who pretends to be someone else in order to deceive others, especially for fraudulent gain.
Synonyms: impersonator, masquerader, pretender, imitator, deceiver, hoaxer, trickster
First… A Confession
I have a confession to make: sometimes I feel like a phony or a fraud even though, deep down, I don’t believe that I’m attempting to consciously deceive anyone. And it wasn’t until fairly recently that I even knew there was such a thing called the ‘Imposter Syndrome’.
Once I began to learn a little bit more about the syndrome, I was frankly shocked to find that roughly 70% of people feel like an impostor at one time or another. So chances are good that that includes you too…
The more I learned about this syndrome, the more I realized that I didn’t entirely know what it meant nor had I recognized how much it described my thoughts and feelings regarding my own success.
Do You Have The Impostor Syndrome?
In short, the definition of the impostor syndrome tells us that it is not a mental disorder but an ingrained personality trait that’s been studied by clinical psychologists. It tends to affect women more often than men. And it’s typically the result of specific events that happen in one’s life.
And perhaps for you, this article will be beneficial in shedding some light on those dark places in your own mind where you secretly worry that someday, someone will pull back the curtain and show the world that you never really had what it takes.
I’d like to begin this with the idea that the Imposter Syndrome will be felt at the individual level meaning each of us will have unique yet similar experiences around our interactions with others, particularly on a professional level. If you’ve ever had to give a sales pitch or otherwise close a new client, you know all too well how nerve-wracking a lack of confidence can be.
For myself, I certainly know that I have always operated my business with a high degree of integrity and honesty and yet despite my ethics and expertise, I often doubt or discount the value of what it is that I bring to the table for my clients.
This type of thinking can have an absolutely detrimental impact on one’s ability to acquire and retain clients as well as setting fees at a level commensurate with their skills and talents. Have you done that too? Have you found yourself repeatedly giving away your services for free or otherwise undercharging when you know you should be asking for more?
Perhaps one of the biggest pitfalls for those of us who struggle with the Impostor Syndrome is our inability to properly evaluate the positive impact we make for others both personally and professionally. To that you can add a drive toward perfectionism and a need to be extra diligent and hardworking (which we “impostors” unconsciously do to compensate for what we perceive to be lacking or false). This unending drive will most often result in overwhelm and then, burn out.
The syndrome can manifest itself as self-deprecation and a tendency towards minimizing one’s contribution. You can end up doing “favors” for everyone else but yourself. Ultimately, it makes it pretty damn hard to conduct business profitably and to otherwise establish oneself as an expert in any given field .
In fact, just the idea of claiming oneself to be an expert in anything can result in a deep sensation of unease or even anxiety. If you know what I’m talking about, then you can recognize this sick and empty feeling deep inside your belly.
Like watching a child grow up day by day, you are too close to the subject called YOU to appreciate the volume and magnitude of everything that you have learned and mastered. It’s literally impossible, even if you don’t feel like a fraud at times, to ever fully appreciate the internal, spiritual, and intellectual distances that you have traveled in your lifetime.
And for that reason, it’s impossible to easily quantify or put a price on what you have learned through your amazing life experience.
And it’s essential that for any of us who struggle in this way that you begin to recognize your tendency to preemptively dismiss yourself or your request for payment in hopes of avoiding the pain of rejection or worse, having to justify and defend the value of what you do.
For those of you who are high achievers, you will find yourself especially susceptible to the Impostor Syndrome . In fact it may be derailing every effort you make to build your self-esteem, build your business, or otherwise take charge of the results you are producing.
Because the Imposter Syndrome has not been identified as a mental disorder of sorts, there is no prescribed treatment for those who suffer with it. But that’s not to say that there’s nothing you can do to counteract such gnawing feelings.
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