Raise your hand if you have a VISION for something you would love to DO, ACHIEVE OR CREATE! ✋🏻
Now keep your hand UP if you take step forwards without any fears of being “an imposter”? 🤔
🧞♀️ Did you ever watched Aladdin?
When Aladdin finally gets the wish from the Genie to become a prince so he could marry Princess Jasmine, he doesn’t know how to act and he feels like an imposter. He tells the Genie that he can’t do it because he feels like a fraud. The Genie tells him, “You changed on the outside, but you didn’t change on the inside.”
❗️Spoiler alert: Most other people have felt this way too.
🙏 Imposter syndrome is a completely normal part of doing ANYTHING outside of your comfort zone. ALL of us get it, it is human. Unfortunately, a lot of people let fears and their inner critics stop them from taking action out of their comfort zone and achieving what they truly want. But the fears you don’t face become your limits 🙅♀️
➡️ Self-doubt is a massive obstacle for high-achieving professionals, athletes, leaders and entrepreneurs. A big part of unlocking your potential is how much you can manage your own inner game and self-doubts – and empower others to do the same.
➡️ The trick is to remember that our mind is our greatest asset as much as enemy (not to say something else starting with the same 3 letters as asset – excuse my French!). Whatever we desire in our personal and business life is only 20% strategy … and mostly 80% mindset.
STEP 1: What is imposter syndrome and what are its symptoms?
Imposter syndrome is a persistent inability to believe that our successes are down to our own abilities + a constant belief that we are not as competent as others perceive us to be.
Here are some common symptoms of how it might manifest:
- Feeling like you are deceiving those around you, that you are not up to the task, and that you are the only one lucid enough to see it.
- Comparing yourself to people who have already done the thing you want to do (thinking they never suffered from it).
- Under-valuing your own self worth and uniqueness with an inability to savour your successes and to believe that they are due to your abilities.
- Learning and knowing but getting in analysis paralysis and procrastinating by fear of not being good / perfect enough (e.g. staying quiet in meetings although your expertise would add great value, accepting only one job interview even if you received 6 responses, procrastinating to the point of defeating yourself before an important meeting or milestone, not asking to be put forward for promotion even if your ratings consistently exceeded expectations).
- Fearing that one day or another you will be exposed. This triggers a spiral of negative emotions such as doubt, fear, stress, anxiety, shame and guilt.
- Setting impossible goals out of perfectionism and expecting mistakes and failures.
STEP 2: Are you prone to imposter syndrome?
Test: How prone are you to impostor syndrome?
Answer yes or no to the following questions. If you hesitate, choose the answer that is closest to your feelings.
1. Do you have difficulty accepting praise or praise?
2. Do you experience anxiety during assessments or meeting situations?
3. Are you generally afraid of failure?
4. Are you often afraid that you will not be able to replicate a success that has already been achieved?
5. Are you worried that success will lead to increased demands and you won’t be able to keep up (and hence leading to failure)?
6. Are you afraid that people you care about will realize that you are not smart?
7. Does this sound familiar? “People think I’m better than I really am”; “Others think I’m going to cope, but I know I’m not up to it.”; “If I’m here (in this job, this responsibility) it was because I was at the right time in the right place, I was lucky: there was no competition.”
If you answered yes to 4 or more questions, there is a good chance that you at least occasionally experience the imposter syndrome.
Use the “self-belief” journal prompts below to overcome negative self-judgement and imposter syndrome.
STEP 3: How to manage your imposter syndrome … forever?
“You have to believe in yourself when no one else does. That makes you a winner.”(Serena Williams)
All worries originate from one fundamental fear: “I will not be able to handle it” and something catastrophic will happen.
This exercise will help you install self-belief in your subconscious mind, and create new neural pathways to re-wire your mind with the belief that you have within you the resilience, power and ability to overcome what seems impossible.
Go through it in a journal – whether in a notebook or a note-taking app.
Self-belief is like a muscle. The more you work out your confidence muscle, the stronger it will get!
Small incremental amounts of self-praise for who we are and what we do compound into greater self-compassion.
Re-awaken to the cost of your imposter syndrome
The fear of making a mistake or failure stops you from making decisions, keep you from doing something you know is important to you.
Believe that it is possible that someone can do what you want
List examples of others who have already done what you would like to achieve, or something similar.
This includes ordinary people who decided they could accomplish what they wanted, did the necessary work, and became successful. There are great examples you might find in biographies, magazines, podcasts, YouTube videos, and others. When you see these examples, you will expand your belief of what is possible for a person to achieve.
Believe it is possible that you can achieve what you want.
Keep “self-belief booster lists”:
- 1: List 3 top strengths, and anything you are proud or grateful for about yourself and your life.
- 2: List 3 top strengths, and anything you are proud or grateful for about yourself and your life.
- 3: List 3 top strengths, and anything you are proud or grateful for about yourself and your life.
- 4: List 3 top strengths, and anything you are proud or grateful for about yourself and your life.
- Record small wins (e.g. courageous email, positive conversation) or bigger ones (e.g. studies, promotion, recognition at work, amazing testimonials, new business deal, gym personal best), even if you have trouble taking the credit for them.
- Keep your weekly success log: Have a weekly ritual to write down retrospectively your accomplishments for the week – whether professional or personal. Often we are not fully aware of our successes and taking the time to remind ourselves what we have accomplished feels good!
- Track personal disciplines: what you kept or progress (e.g. dietary, meditating, exercising, reading), temptations you overcame(e.g. sugar, social media or TV addiction)
What do these 4 lists tell you about your strengths, skills, qualities, values, or conditions for success?
Install self-belief in your subconscious mind.
Repeat to yourself empowering affirmations to trust in your abilities to handle any situation that comes your way, based on your evidence. The more you repeat these, the more they will become like brain tattoos, and you will stop old mental loops from running.
- Examples of statements to consider:
“I will handle it” [“I have handled it before and I will handle it again”]
“If I can do this, then I can do ———-”
“Why not” [me / possible…]”
“I am enough”
- Put your favorite statements in places where you can repeatedly see them. For example: mirror, fridge, car dashboard, phone alarms, screensavers, computer passwords, engraved bracelets, journal, calendar reminder.
- Repeat your statement in multiple tenses (“I am / I have always been / I will always […]”).
- Counter your specific limiting beliefs with opposite statements (e.g. “I am not young enough” ⇒ “I am the perfect age to achieve my goal”; “I do not have enough knowledge in this field” ⇒ “I can learn anything I need to know how to achieve my goal and partner with the right people to help me”).
- Update the language you use with more assertive phrases. e.g. instead of saying, “I feel this is the way forward,” say, “I think this is the way forward.”
- Avoid comparing yourself to others. Focusing on developing your individual strength will be most beneficial for your career progression and your mental well-being. One person’s strength is another person’s weakness, and accepting that your skill lies elsewhere means you can focus on getting ahead in an area that you excel, whilst seeking growth opportunities outside of your comfort zone. Remember – “a lion who copycats a lion becomes a monkey” (Victor Hugo).
- Embody our authenticity as your greatest super power. Check out Amy Cuddy Ted Talk on how our body language shape out thoughts 🙂
Act. Remember that everything in life and business is an experiment! Remove self-doubts, fears and procrastination through consistent daily actions and engagement, with baby steps – not thoughts.
You have to do the thing to make sure the thing works or suits you. And if it doesn’t, it is simply feedback helping you to tweak and pivot. Detach yourself from the outcome and focus on the process. Remind yourself that there is no one on Earth without weaknesses and there is no such thing as failure or perfection, only learning and progress! You have to do the thing to make sure the thing works or suits you. And if it doesn’t, failure is simply feedback helping you to tweak and pivot.
Take actions daily to improve your self-belief.
Menu of options to consider.
- Re-read what you have written in your journal every day or whenever you need a boost of confidence.
- Improve on it by constantly adding details on it
- Based on your “holistic life assessment” and what you want: Rate how confident you are that it is possible to achieve this goal, on a scale of 1-10 (1 = NO, I don’t believe it is; 5 = MAYBE; 10 = YES, I believe it is). Write little steps you can take to improve your self-belief within the next week or month. You don’t need to know HOW to reach your goals yet, only to decide that you can do it.
- Build your self-confidence daily in what you think you cannot do, by pushing yourself out of your comfort zone by baby steps – even in seemingly unimportant fields (e.g. in the gym or in social situations).
- Regularly give your loved ones heartfelt compliments. It goes a long way in boosting someone’s confidence. Remember – “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” (Maya Angelou).
- Do not strive for perfection and embrace failure!
Self-doubt can be paralyzing. But now that you know how to recognize and deal with these feelings, you can make efforts to move forward instead of getting stuck in the cycle!