I am feeling it right now That niggling doubt, the underlying sense of fear that I will be found out. That people will realise I’m not what I seem. It has a much-publicised name this feeling, it’s called ‘Imposter Syndrome’.
I am not alone. In 2018 a national study* of 3000 UK adults in work found that two thirds of the women involved had experienced this feeling of not being as good as people think within the previous 12 months and women were 18% more likely to have these ‘Imposter’ feelings than men.
I am currently experiencing Imposter Syndrome about having Imposter Syndrome! As someone whose daily work is all about the empowerment of others sharing my own self-doubt is a classic case. You’ve found me out. I give my power away too.
There is often a lack of self-confidence/ self-belief, particularly when we are taking on new challenges or ironically reaping the benefits of our own hard work. A promotion, an invitation to lead a project, winning a new contract; all these are successes that by their nature mean we are being noticed more. The more we know the eyes of our working world are upon us the more meat the imposter gremlins within have to feed on.
A quarter of the women interviewed in the 2018 study said that receiving criticism was the biggest cause of their Imposter Syndrome and one in five said asking for help made them doubt their abilities at work. Two big red flags!
As we progress at work we become more visible. One of the side effects of Imposter Syndrome is that it subliminally limits progress. To avoid feedback which has the risk of criticism women sometimes choose to disappear. They keep quiet and get on, they avoid confrontation and challenge, they don’t want to be noticed which means their presence isn’t felt and eventually they become invisible. In doing so they give away their power.
Sometimes these feelings of self-doubt and fear of discovery drive women to the other extreme. They become superficially over-confident, loud, very assertive, even aggressive and bullying. They think this looks like confidence and will deflect others from questioning or criticising them. They think this behaviour will keep them safe. What is more likely is that it will make them unpopular, others will find them difficult to work with and there may end up being complaints made.
The feelings and behaviours that have the “Imposter Syndrome’ label attached are generated by self-doubt, lack of confidence, our limiting beliefs and our cultural conditioning. All these things exist only within the mind. Our minds are flexible, we have the power to make changes in ourselves each and every day.
And something I find helps me get out of the Imposter feeling quickly is to remind myself of this…
You are not an imposter you are an example; an example of what you want for the girls and young women your life touches- the woman you are is always affecting and influencing those around you. Believe in yourself and be the best you.
*A national study of 3,000 adults commissioned by Access Commercial Finance
Imposter Syndrome is one of the topics we explore in our Her Invitation Empower You Workshops which focus on how women give their power away without realising it and how we can reclaim that power and become Women without Limits
To find out more about Her Invitation workshops and coaching contact firstname.lastname@example.org