“I’m scared I’ll be found out”
“I’m nervous, they’ll see right through me”
“What do I know that could possibly add value in the meeting?”
No matter whether it is an Executive we’re coaching or a junior member of staff, we hear deep rooted concerns expressed that are often referred to as the Imposter Syndrome. These concerns affect your confidence. This lack of confidence can sometimes be evident to others in your voice tone, pitch, hand movements, eye contact……..But does this syndrome exist?
A simple answer is “yes it does”.
Imposter Syndrome can be defined as “a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success” Gill Corkindale .
And YOU can do something about it.
When experiencing the Imposter Syndrome, the reality is that your inner dialogue, your voice within you, is talking to you and emphasising your deepest held concerns and fears. When this voice is hindering you, it is referred to as self limiting beliefs.
The good news is that same voice can also become one that helps and encourages you and it is you that is in control of the on/off switch.
In our article My Beliefs, we explore how our beliefs, our inner voice, are our deeply held beliefs that have been shaped by our life experiences. By becoming aware of this inner voice and taking control of it, we can be in control of the on/off switch.
- Develop your awareness of what your inner voice is telling you and ask yourself – “How does this help me or how does it hinder me?”
- If it hinders you, then pause and ask yourself, “what can I be saying to myself that would be more helpful and encouraging?”
You are preparing a presentation to deliver to your peer group and those more senior to you. You feel anxious and your inner voice is saying to you “ Why on earth did I volunteer to do this? What possessed me to think that I had something that would add value to the meeting?”
Your inner voice is hindering you. It is stifling and inhibiting your thinking and your preparation for the session is taking much longer than it should.
- Now that you are conscious of your inner voice and have identified that it is hindering your progress, you have a choice. You can choose to continue to let it inhibit you or you can choose to switch it off, while you rewrite your script. In rewriting your script you are changing your thoughts from negative ones to positive and encouraging ones. “So the key purpose of the meeting is to explore how we can improve employee engagement. I have some excellent research and data along with a great case study, now let’s focus on how I can share that.”
To change your life long habits, do this consciously for at least 8 weeks and learn to switch off that inner voice that hinders you and switch on the more positive and encouraging inner voice. Take control and rewrite what you tell yourself.
For some however the Imposter Syndrome is not just specific to individual events, it is a general lack of confidence that is holding them back from being the best they can be both at work and in their personal life.
This is where a mantra can make a significant difference.
What is a mantra? A mantra is a phrase that you develop for yourself to replace your negative inner voice that is hindering you. Here’s how:
- Identify what you are saying to yourself that is holding you back. These are your self limiting beliefs and often start with I can’t…, I won’t…., I’ll never….
- Describe what it is that you can say to yourself that would be so much more encouraging. For example when I was a newly appointed manager in a very male dominated environment, my mantra was “I am a magnificent woman.”
- Your phrase should be short and in present tense. Other examples include: “I can”; “Life is amazing”
- Now, stand in front of a mirror and say your mantra out loud to yourself, repeatedly. Use intonation to emphasise different words and identify the word(s) you need to emphasise so that you feel the positive, emotional surge, as though you were flicking on a switch. The word I chose to emphasise was “am” and I smiled while I said it. (To this day it still works for me.)
- Repeat. Repeat. Repeat for at least 8 weeks: when you’re brushing your teeth, going about your daily routines and especially when you need that surge of positivity to help you through the more challenging parts of your day.
- You will come to a point where you automatically use your mantra (unconsciously) and your positive, emotional surge will flow and replace your Imposter Syndrome.
(If your phrase isn’t working, re write it until you find one that really creates that surge of positivity.)
Keen to explore further? Then please do contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
The Chimp Paradox by Prof Steve Peters
 Overcoming Imposter Syndrome Harvard Business Review, May 2008