Are you a high achiever? Have you ever been on the brink of doing something amazing but been stopped in your tracks by thoughts like:-‘What if they find out that I really don’t know anything or that I am really not as great as they think I am? Then you may be suffering from Impostor Syndrome. Imposter Syndrome is the feeling that you are a fraud and that you are somehow fooling people with regards to your skills or intellectual abilities. Are you ready to learn how to deal with it? Below are 7 questions to help you to confront this internal saboteur.
- How do I see myself? Socrates says ‘Know thyself’ so start with a list of things you know to be true about yourself in an area in which you excel. Make a list of just the facts, your professional qualifications, awards you have received or achievements for which you have been praised. This primes your mind for a more positive view of yourself and your abilities.
- How do you see me? If you are old enough to remember Sally Field’s acceptance speech at the Oscars in 1985 for “Places in the Heart”,-“You like me, right now, you like me!” then you know how hardwired we are as human beings for acceptance and recognition. In addition to recognition, feedback and pushback from others helps us to navigate the world. Try this exercise: ask 10 friends to list your 3 best qualities. It might feel weird to ask but you will be surprised at the strengths they see in you that you don’t see in yourself, look for common threads in their feedback. The nice thing about this exercise is that you can also reciprocate.
- When do I feel like this? Note the times that this happens to you. Is it just before you are going to expand in some way? Are you going to ask for a promotion, changing jobs or starting a new business? Often when we are experiencing a growth phase we invite doubt and self-sabotage to the party. Impostor Syndrome becomes a handy tool to mask our fear of success or failure.
- Who does this belong to? We have all been conditioned from birth by parents, teachers, family members, friends, institutions etc. So whose criticism are you really hearing? Think back to the first time you heard the criticism. If it’s not yours, treat it like unwanted post- return to sender.
- Is this true? If the limiting thought persists and you’ve decided the voice is your own then examine the thought to see if it is really true. Argue the case, make a list of the facts and systematically eliminate anything that you cannot prove.
- How can I make this better? You’ve identified a true weakness or flaw. Great! If it’s real then you can work on it. Need to brush up on your presentation skills? Follow a public speaking course. Identifying the problem is half of the solution.
- How can I sustain this? If you are ambitious, you will probably encounter this problem in your next growth phase. How to deal? Make a commitment to keep track of your progress in a journal or in whichever way works for you. Check in with your headspace to see how you feel at the phase that you are now and identify the possible obstacles to your next move Chart your course for where you are going to next. What are the steps you need to take now to be where you want to be 2 years , 5 years or as little as 2 months from now? Work with a schedule, stick to it and check in with yourself regularly. This will help you to recognize those feelings of self-doubt and to deal with them before they deal with you.
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