Let me tell you a story of something that happened to me a few years ago…So there I was, about to speak to a room full of people for about 2 hours when all of a sudden this ‘voice’ popped up in my head…I like to call it my inner Demon and it said:

‘This is the moment you’ll get found out.’

‘It’s all just luck that you got here’

‘You really have no clue what you’re doing.’

Now, this wasn’t just your common stage fright where your heart beats a bit faster, and your palms get a bit sweaty…this was a feeling of being fraudulent, not good enough and that this was the moment that I was going to be ‘found out’ as being something I’m not.

Can you relate?

If so, you’re not alone. In fact, so many people struggle with this that there’s even a name for it… Imposter Syndrome.

Common symptoms are:

  • Feeling like a fraud
  • That it’s an accident that you got to where you are today
  • That you’re going to be found out any second for not really knowing what you’re doing
  • That you’re an imposter
  • That everything that you’ve ever done was just luck
  • That you really don’t feel qualified to be doing what you’re doing

Sound familiar?

Kate winslet quote

In fact the term Imposter Syndrome was first coined by Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes in 1978 and back then it was thought that it mostly occurred in high achieving women. We now know that it also affects men, and it’s not just reserved for high achievers.

The thing is that Imposter syndrome is really common, but even so it doesn’t feel great especially when you find yourself doubting your own ability, or when it’s hindering your progress and confidence.

So, now that we know we’re not all complete imposters, let’s talk about what we can do about it…

1. Write down your contributions and what makes you good at your job

This might sound really self indulgent, but other than on your CV have you ever taken the time to write down what you’ve actually achieved and why you deserve to be where you are?

I’m willing to guess not…but this exercise works a treat – and you don’t have to show anyone. So, why not blow your own trumpet for once?

All you need to do is scribble down your  achievements. This might be your experience, your qualifications or what you bring to the party that no-one else does.

By doing this, you’ll also have something that you can read back every time your imposter syndrome strikes and when you need that bit of a confidence boost.

2. Keep a celebration journal.

This is a super quick exercise, but adds value as you go along. All you need to do is spend 10 minutes at the end of each day bulleting what went well in the day and what you’ve achieved. Not only does it make you feel great, but it also trains your brain to look for the positives (and not just the negatives) as you go through your day.

3. Focus on adding value.

It’s easy when you’re feeling like an imposter, to focus on yourself and what you’re not doing, or can’t do – so instead, have a go at turning that on its head and focus on how you can add value – regardless of how you feel.

By doing this you’ll start to switch your thinking to something more positive and pro-active and this will hopefully distract you and help change the way you feel.

4. Accept that feeling like an imposter – doesn’t actually make you so.

Just because you feel like an imposter, doesn’t mean you really are one.

You’re where you are for a reason…and that’s because you earned it. So when you get your imposter feeling, simply observe it and accept that it’s just a feeling and that it doesn’t make it fact

5. Talk about it.

Be open and talk about it. You’ll be surprised how many people feel the same way and can relate to what you feel. Just like anything a problem shared really does help so be open about it.

I’d love to hear your thoughts and tips about how you cope with imposter syndrome. Let me know by leaving a comment.