Impostor Syndrome is a Dream Killer! It stops new businesses from launching, books from being written and published, innovation from happening, performers from engaging their craft, and leaders from making an impact. The syndrome silences important voices and diminishes what should be seen by others.
Many of my clients think they are alone with their fears, but if you peruse social media you will see it mentioned often. Entrepreneurs post how they are afraid to launch their product/service because they are locked in fear that people won't see them as the expert; that they are not good enough to be putting something important into the world. Business leaders post about letting fear silence their voices or make them shrink when faced with taking bold and out-in-front opportunities. Their power is lost to their thoughts, thoughts that tell them they don't belong at the table or that they don't have anything valuable to add. Performers, actors and athletes mention succumbing to their fears by not going all out. Believing they need to be perfect and often compare themselves to others. The result is not feeling like they are at the same level, and to keep saying "one day", not letting their talent shine.
By the time most clients reach me for coaching for their Impostor Syndrome, they have been challenged with it for years and are in a lot of emotional pain. They recognize the loss that they have endured from not engaging life as their full selves. Here's the first thing I coach them on...it's the ONE thing to do when first healing Impostor Syndrome.
That ONE thing you must do, that thing that sounds so easy, but is so hard if you have Impostor Syndrome, is to stop believing your thoughts. I recently heard a sports coach tell his athletes "You've got to get your mind right!" He knows that for any one of them to overcome challenges and to succeed, it all begins with their thoughts.
We have hundreds of thoughts in a few minutes, most sound true to us but they aren't. We follow these untrue thoughts down the rabbit hole, spiraling downward the whole way. What would happen if you stopped believing all your thoughts? To become a major skeptic of what you are thinking? That skeptical you will put your thoughts to a test and make them show you evidence that they are true.
Here's how it works. You are walking into a meeting with senior management and hear yourself saying internally, "I don't belong in this meeting!" Stop here. Don't believe what you just heard. Quickly look for evidence for and against this thought. Evidence against this thought sounds like, "I was invited because I am seen as an important contributor", "I am an expert in my function and have value to add" or "there is no one like me and that is what is going to make the difference with the decisions we are making today."
90 percent of the time that my clients engage this strategy, they have evidence against the thoughts they are experiencing around Impostor Syndrome. Let's discuss the 10 percent of the time that they have evidence for their thoughts. Does it sound scary to confirm these negative thoughts? Yes! Yet, this gives you so much power. If your thought is true then you need to ask questions to gain power from them. Ask, "What is this thought trying to tell me about what I should do next?" "What does this thought want from me?" "What does this thought want for me?" Asking these types of questions prevents you from shrinking or running. Those questions can empower you to use the thoughts as a way to engage and move forward.
Impostor Syndrome requires time and effort to heal. You can't achieve any lasting positive changes with it unless you commit to changing your thinking patterns and emotional responses to ways that empower you. Healing Impostor Syndrome means allowing yourself to make your dreams come true and to show up to life as the full version of you.