The FRIGGING imposter syndrome
Millions of us struggle with this creeping feeling that one day, we will be found out.
That despite your hard work, it’s only a matter of time before someone realizes you’re actually not that good.
That you’re really not as qualified as people think.
ImpostEr – Feeling like a fraud
Dr. Pauline R. Clance and Dr. Suzanne A. Imes introduced the term impostor phenomenon in 1978 in the article “The Impostor Phenomenon in High Achieving Women: Dynamics and Therapeutic Intervention”.Wikipedia
They defined it as an individual experience of self-perceived intellectual phoniness.
Before we get to the one shift that can help you get over your doubts, let’s first have a closer look at feeling like a fraud.
So, you’d agree that you know certain things… but you are no expert.
And you certainly don’t think you deserve to position yourself as one.
On a bad day, you may even feel like a fraud.
That insecure voice in your head’s convinced that someday someone will ask you a question you can’t answer. Or that you’ll mess something up.
And then everyone will know that you weren’t worthy in the first place.
It’s just a matter of time until it all comes crashing down.
This feeling of unworthiness can stem from a lack of appreciation or bad experiences. Maybe the people around you don’t encourage you very much.
But mostly it’s triggered by your own negative thinking and high expectations.
You are not alone in fighting the impostor syndrome
The imposter syndrome touches millions of people.
It’s especially common among students, creative people, and high achievers – as Dr. Valerie Young, imposter expert and author of “The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women” states.
Through her extensive work, Dr. Young discovered 5 subcategories of the imposter syndrome.
- The Perfectionist: They set unreasonably high goals for themselves. And if the result is not perfect, they beat themselves up over that one tiny flaw
- The Superwoman/man: They want to do it all and take on far too many tasks at once. Then they feel terrible if they drop the ball.
- The Natural Genius: They believe that everything should come easy. So if they take a long time to master something, they feel ashamed and like a failure.
- The Soloist: They think that asking for help is a weakness and reveals their phoniness. If they didn’t do it alone, it doesn’t count.
- The Expert: They believe they should know everything – and fear being exposed as inexperienced or uninformed if they don’t.
Which category do you identify with the most? Maybe even “all of the above”?
Can you imagine that even world-famous physicist Albert Einstein and successful writer Maya Angelou doubted their abilities?
And felt like imposters?
If you knew that people you admire have doubts as well, you’d realize how irrational the imposter syndrome is.
So to sum it up…
People with imposter syndrome expect too much from themselves and worry that they don’t measure up.
The trick for beating the imposter syndrome
Feeling like a fraud can ruin your life. But there’s a solution…
Beating the imposter syndrome is possible.
Seems too good to be true?
Listen. Today, I discovered the one shift you need to help with your imposter syndrome.
This especially applies to Dr. Young’s subcategory “The Expert”.
Are you ready?
Here’s the deal…
Being an expert is relative.
Isn’t that amazing?
I never thought about it this way.
The word expert instantly triggers incredibly high expectations within me.
For me, experts know everything about their field and are recognized for their knowledge…
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Knowledge has multiple layers
Today’s definition of an expert was very different.
There are multiple levels of knowledge – and it’s all relative.
If you know just a bit more than the person you’re talking to, they may consider you an expert (or at least be impressed).
Doesn’t that make sense?
And realizing this is the first step to beating imposter syndrome.
Unfortunately, your knowledge works against you…
Since you know what you know, you’re not impressed by yourself. Your knowledge seems normal to you.
Have you ever thought, if I can do it, “anyone” can do it?
And so for you, experts or impressive people need to know much more than you.
And the sad part is: The more you know, the higher your standards.
But once you are aware of this, you can work on beating the imposter syndrome for good.
DESPITE FEELING LIKE AN IMPOSTER, YOU ARE NOT A FRAUD
The more you know about a topic, the stricter your definition of an expert becomes.
But not meeting your arbitrary standards doesn’t make you an imposter.
So many people think they are too young, too old, or simply not good enough to truly deserve success.
Having high expectations for yourself doesn’t mean that other people wouldn’t love to know what you know.
Someone who knows little can benefit a lot from you.
Even if it all seems normal to you – your knowledge is special.
You think that your experience is ordinary… but that’s only because you know yourself so well.
For example, I’ve lived in different countries. But I don’t really think about that.
And if I mention it in a conversation, it’s more on a side-note.
But to other people, this is usually a cool fact.
Your perception of value is skewed
I speak 4 languages (pretty) fluently, plus 2 languages as low intermediate.
Some people think that’s impressive.
But I don’t think that makes me cool.
I know quite a few people who also speak 3-4 languages.
And I bet you have examples like this, too.
You’re so used to your life and skills that you don’t see how special you are.
So, when you think about this objectively, you can beat the dreaded imposter syndrome.
If you’re working with people who know less than you, you can be highly valuable to them.
Even brilliant business people still need help in certain areas.
And maybe have to beat imposter syndrome, too.
No one has time for (or is good at) everything.
And you are good at the thing they can’t do themselves.
This means you can help them with that – so they can focus on the things they excel in.
Give yourself credit and beat the imposter syndrome
The imposter syndrome can touch anybody.
In the end, we’re all just people with doubts & fears, and negative self-talk.
But don’t let your unrealistic standards dictate your self-worth.
Chances are, you’ll never meet your expectations.
To beat imposter syndrome, you need to be objective.
Because this is the sad truth:
As you get better, you raise your standards as well – a vicious circle where you may never consider yourself an expert.
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When you realize that your definition of an expert is flawed, you can finally take pride in what you know.
And I get it…
You may still feel uncomfortable calling yourself an “expert”. So see yourself as a value provider instead.
Thanks to your knowledge, you help others so that they can focus on their expertise.
I hope this new perspective helps you beat the imposter syndrome and encourages you to trust in your abilities.
You deserve to feel confident and good about yourself!
Shut up the insecure voice inside your head.
It doesn’t know what it’s talking about.
Have a great day,
Improve yourself. Improve your life!
Please comment if you have tips for beating imposter syndrome so that we can all benefit from your experience.
And if you’re still struggling with doubts, please share as well.
For more info about imposter syndrome, watch this great 4-minute TED video by Elizabeth Cox.
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