Imposter Complex?

I’ve had a LOT of requests for support on ‘Imposter Complex.’ It was the big winner in the survey I sent out a few weeks ago, and I feel like it ticks up a bit this time of year too. The holidays, filled with so many commitments, seem to accelerate time, and those big year end goals loom. Skidding in to the flip of the calendar, brings the collision of stressing about how to make this new year The-Best-One-Yet!, with reflections on what went right and what went wrong in the year that’s wrapping up. It can give us a lot to think/cringe/regret/hope for, triggering feelings of inadequacy.

Are you one of those who struggles with feeling like a fraud? That only luck and twists of fate have gotten you as far as you currently are? That at any moment you will be discovered as the phony you are and every one will laugh and mock you? Or that your fraudulence will result in a solid eviction from your community, and you will become a pariah, destined for loneliness for the rest of time? Some examples of what I mean:

  • Failure is not an option. Every miss of the mark feels fatal. You must completely crush every goal or challenge you meet, and be perfect always. Worrying about every detail is of course how you keep the wolves at bay, and naturally, who wants to be eaten alive and die?
  • I only got here because I got lucky. I mean come on, you’re a total lightweight, am I right? It’s only a matter of time before your fake-ness is discovered. Once you’re found out, you will be laughed right out of the office. Instantly, the whole of LinkedIn will know all about your failings , you will be never be employable again. You may just die of humiliation.
  • It’s all just spin!” Sure people say I’ve accomplished cool stuff, but what about once it dawns on them that the things I’ve done are actually no big deal? They’ll realize I’m nothing, and will make fun of me behind my back. They’ll stop sending the cool work my way, and won’t hire me. I will definitely die.

Do you know that “I’m a fake – when will I be found out?” feeling all too well? It can feel crushing at times, and you are so not alone. Like I said, it was the big winner in my survey asking for hot topics! It’s that persistent, ugly voice that assaults us with “Who am I to  . . . ” Fill in the blank: Be so bold, go for that promotion/raise, act like an expert, think I know so much, etc. And it can take us to a pretty extreme place–the “It’s all a disaster, I just may perish”–place.

Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. I’m going live on Facebook next week on my business page with tips to kick that Imposter Complex to the curb. It’s a good time to follow me there, so you don’t miss out! Is there something specific you want me to make sure to address? Please email me and let me know!

Until next week, here’s my #1 tip on beginning to battle that fraud-like feeling to tide you over: Awareness. You can’t change a single thing until you know what the heck is actually going on. Our ‘Who am I’ voice says a lot of mean things to us, and I find most of my clients to be surprised by both the severity of those messages and the frequency of them. It can be a pretty steady stream. Start to notice when that voice creeps in. Track it! Be sure to note the following:

  • When does feeling like a fraud happen? What’s going on? What activity are you involved in? Be sure to even note the time!
  • What precipitated the experience? Was it an interaction, a tricky conversation, making a tough decision, etc?
  • How did you know it was happening? Was it just a little voice in your head or were there also some bodily symptoms you have experienced, like a rumbly tummy, or a catch in your throat, or perhaps a pounding heart?

Write it all down. You’ll start to see what’s really going on, and I always say: Once you know, you can not NOT know. This awareness makes it possible to find some ways to talk back to that voice, reframe the situation, and change the pattern. I’m going to talk about some of these strategies next week, but awareness is the key first step. And you can absolutely get started engaging with this process immediately – let me know how it goes!

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