The TRUTH about Imposter Syndrome

Many authors, business founders, and leaders have a dirty little secret despite their success record. They often feel inadequate; they are not worthy of their success, which stops them from promoting their book, themselves, and works.

How often have you been stopped in your tracks? With a pedigree that smacks of success, something quite dark lurks within your mind, raising its ugly head when you least expect the roadblock.

Imposter Syndrome is precisely that – an Imposter, a fraud, LIES. It is a mask that presents fraudulent feelings of unworthiness that silences your authentic voice and covers up your true genius, conviction and confidence. It is a psychological pattern in which individuals doubt their accomplishments and have a persistent internalised fear of being exposed as “fraud”.

Understanding Imposter Syndrome is vital in a world that concerns mental fitness and well-being. Many suggest Imposter syndrome isn’t a psychiatric diagnosis. This phenomenon is experienced equally by men and women and frequently coexists with depression and anxiety. When you overthink about the past, it can lead down the depressive path, and when you look too forward into the future, you find yourself in the anxiety jungle. That is why one of the ways to deal with imposter syndrome is to stay in the present. If you dare look to the past, keep a brag bag to record all of your achievements. It’s all too easy to forget about these and deal with the deep feelings of being a fraud.

High achieving women are among the most susceptible to this phenomenon, so you’re in pretty good company: Meryl Streep, Arianna Huffington and Mary Angelou.

“You don’t have to attain perfection or mastery to be worthy of the success, you have achieved.” – Margie Warrell.

In March 2022, Flitch Learning is holding a webinar discussing Imposter Syndrome on Middle Eastern women. From London/Riyadh/Dubai, they have invited Soraya Sarif, DEI Trainer, Fitch Learning as the key speaker for this webinar. Flitch claims that Imposter Syndrome has increasingly created a workplace dynamic where women feel they are frequently overworked and emotionally cornered from feeling comfortable being their authentic selves.

Combining these ideas with the inadvertent discrimination often associated with gender bias creates an even more difficult dynamic and working environment. In many circumstances, it is so delicate that it’s invisible until we catch it, feeding the core of self-doubt that shadows many female professionals throughout their careers into the boardroom.

What are some of the fundamental causes of Imposter Syndrome?

1. The Perfectionist

When you work in environments where the stakes are high and powered by excessive-high goals, attaining this elusive abstraction is like forever chasing rainbows. When you fail to reach those goals, major self-doubt and worry creep into their psyche, impacting their performance and confidence. Do you like to micro-manage, have difficulty delegating or do you feel you’re not cut out for the job? Then time to knock that imposter syndrome on the head.

2. Superwoman/man

People who experience the phenomenon are often workaholics. They continually push themselves to be super achievers, and they usually bite off more than they can chew to prove that they are superwomen/men. Women are more prone as more and more women are working mothers juggling home, work and life where they lose control as they become overwhelmed and burdened with responsibility. Do you stay later at the office, sacrifice your hobbies and interests, or feel that it’s a waste of time if you are not working?

Time to take off that heavy cloak and find ways to relax and rejuvenate.

3. The Natural Genius

Many high achievers believe that they are a fraud if they cannot do their work efficiently and quickly. They do not see effort as something to celebrate. Carol Dweck suggests that effort should be hailed as much as achievement. Imposter syndrome shows up as a shame if it takes you a little longer to master something. Do you excel without much effort? Were you often told you were the smart one in the family? Do you dislike the idea of having a mentor? Time to give yourself a break from these spurious thoughts.

4. The Soloist

Young describes those who feel shame in asking for help as a Soloist. Instead, they would do a task or project alone that asks for help that would enable them to achieve their goal sooner. Being independent is okay but not to the detriment of your health simply by refusing to ask for help. Do you feel you have to achieve on your own? “I don’t need anyone’s help” does that sound familiar? Do you feel ashamed asking for help? Time to realise that no man is an island and together you can go further.

5. The Expert

The expert measures themselves on ‘what’ and ‘how’ much they know and can do. They believe they will never know enough, fearing they will eventually reveal themselves as an imposter. Do you shy away from promotion or risks until you know all there is to know on the checklist? Do you constantly seek out training and qualifications to prove you are worthy? Even with all of your experience, do you still doubt you know enough? Time to cast those thoughts aside; they are stopping you from being authentic, and therein lies the secret to your power.

There’s a metaphor that illustrates this precisely. A Cherokee Chief was sitting talking to the children of his village. He told them a story of two wolves: one positive wolf and the other a negative wolf. He continued listing all of the attributes of both these wolves. He then proceeded to tell the children that they began fighting when a young voice spoke up. “Which wolf wins?” the child asked. The Chief looked directly at the child and said, “The one you feed.”

Your thoughts and words are potent, so choosing what you say to yourself is paramount to what you believe.

It’s time to stop feeding the monster. Instead, feed the bird that sets you free. You are worthy, and you are real, and you are more than good enough. Through experience, some of the most limiting parts of dealing with imposter syndrome are that it can limit your courage to go after new opportunities, explore potential areas of interest, and put yourself out there in a meaningful way.

Once awakened to this fact, you can begin to reframe your thinking and take action to overcome the spurious mind chatter, replacing it with positive affirmations and mantras. Using more positive language enables you to release deep rooted beliefs and take back control of the steps to your success.

Here are five top diamond tips you help you the next time you feel this monster dare to pop up its head.

– Recognise when imposter syndrome surfaces (Be Aware)

– Keep a journal of achievements and testimonials (Read these as soon as the ‘Fraud Squad’ appears)

-Talk to others about it (Voice it out loud and proud)

– Realise the fear is false (It’s a bunch of thought waves that can be reframed with a Plot Twist)

– Don’t compare yourself with others (You are unique and have your path)

Imposter Syndrome is a normal phenomenon. The next time you open your mouth and say, “I was lucky”; “I was in the right place at the right time”, or “It was nothing.”

Think again. These words and ideas are evidence of Impostor Syndrome at its finest! Using excuses like this masks your natural intelligence, success traits and highly effective qualities. Instead, step into your power, express gratitude for your achievements (breeds humility) and know that you inspire others to walk in their light.

As an author, a business founder and a leader, it’s time to dispel imposter syndrome for good. You have to be visible, heard, and noted so that you can grow the business of your dreams, making a difference with inspiration, impact, and influence.

Brenda Dempsey is a Thriver, Action Woman and Spirited Leader. Transitioning is something Brenda embraces as it opens new opportunities, challenges and adventures revealing spirited leadership qualities of courage resilience and vision.   After 25 years she left her beloved teaching to take up the challenge of building an I CAN  Revolution of 10 MILLION Spirited Leaders who are raising their Voices of Courage, impacting change and creating extraordinary results for themselves, others and the world through imagination, innovation and influence.   No stopping Brenda (a diamond woman) during Covid-19, with a wealth of experience and expertise in writing and books, she created her new business Book Brilliance Publishing a Publisher with a difference for writers, speakers and entrepreneurs.  A Partnership Publishing House that puts its authors at the heart so they can partner their way to Success - Business Brilliance on a global stage where You Drive, We Navigate.