How To Beat Imposter Syndrome For Good
I GOT A PROMOTION AND I START PANICKING ABOUT IT.
I’m offered a new and higher position. I have been working towards this position for a long time. And the moment I got the offer, I froze. And do you know what I tell myself: “Hopefully nobody from the management team finds out that I cannot do it very well.” Viewed objectively: B.S. Otherwise I would have not gotten this promotion. I have the academic degrees, the right work experience and great references. But it lingers in my mind that I’m undeserving of this promotion.
Can you help?
Doubting ourselves is normal. Most people have thoughts like “Am I good enough?” or “Do I deserve this?” However, these kinds of thoughts can become problematic if you start to believe you’re a fraud and compulsively hide your accomplishments under a bushel.
This phoneme is called Impostor syndrome and describes high-achieving individuals who, despite their objective successes, fail to internalise their accomplishments and have persistent self-doubt and fear of being exposed as an intellectual imposter. They attribute success to external factors like luck or help from others while considering setbacks as evidence of their inadequacy.
Research shows that it can affect both men and women from all ethnic backgrounds.
During my years as an executive coach I’ve worked with dozens of clients who suffered from imposter syndrome. The biggest psychological barrier my clients had to overcome was that failing to attribute their performance to their actual competence impacted their mood and mindset in conscious and unconscious ways.
This affected their overall work experience (feeling always pressured to work harder, feeling demotivated, inner resignation) and their satisfaction with life.
That’s why it’s important to get a handle on the emotional and psychological factors that could be hindering your success and well being so you can understand and correct them.
Imposter Syndrome often comes with low self esteem anxiety and fear of failure.
The key to overcoming imposter syndrome is to regain a sense of control — because feeling in control is the direct opposite of being trapped in negative self doubts.
5 Ways to Overcome Imposter Syndrome!
1. HONOUR YOUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS
Write a journal every evening and list three positive work experiences. It is important to highlight your qualities and competencies. Ask yourself: “What kind of competence did I use today to accomplish a specific task or achieve a specific goal?” Do this exercise for two weeks to boost your self-esteem. It may feel very unfamiliar in the beginning to honour your achievements. Do it anyway.
2. LEARN TO RECEIVE POSITIVE FEEDBACK
Set yourself the goal to tolerate compliments or gifts, even if they make you uncomfortable (and they will). The best way to avoid your reflex of shoving off compliments is to prepare some responses and learn to use them immediately whenever you get positive feedback (promised you will feel like a robot). Responses can be: “Thank you” or “How kind of you to say that”.
3. PRACTICE SELF COMPASSION
Imposter comes with an addition: that critical voice in your head (that mostly bothers you with useless chatter). One way to deal with your inner critic is to replace it with self compassion. Would you talk to someone else or your children the way you talk to yourself? Hopefully not. So whenever the inner critic starts talking, turn it around and ask yourself what would you say to a dear friend or your child if they were in your situation.
4. CONTROL THE SHOW
Another way to deal with your critical voice is to tame it. How? Just put your negative self judgement into a short sentence: “I'm a fraud.” and hold onto this belief for 10 seconds. Now inside your head silently sing this thought to the melody of “Happy Birthday.” Or hear the sentence in the voice of Mickey Mouse or your favourite actor/actress. What happens when you do so?
5. LIST YOUR ACCOMPLISHMENTS
Listing all your accomplishments and the skills you used will remind you that you did not reach them by accident (therefore make a note for every accomplishment in which external factors helped you). You can even go a step further and write to every competence additional evidence to make your competencies and skills bulletproof to your inner judge.
Overcoming your Imposter Syndrome requires work, as it involves developing and maintaining healthier emotional habits but doing so, and especially doing so correctly, will provide a great emotional and psychological return on your investment. If it is too much work for you or you don't manage to overcome it on your own reach for professional help. The BrainBoss Method can help.
Interested? Let’s work together.
Are you facing a moment of transition, are self-sabotage, crippling procrastination or perfectionism preventing your success or are you are a stressed-out "achievement junkie"?
Could it help you to speak to a professional?
My goal as an executive coach is to reveal your mental & emotional blocks AND apply your strengths & skills. No matter where you are in the world, the sessions are held online on a secured health line.
With my unique ground-breaking BrainBoss Method you are able to uncover the deeper roots of thoughts, feelings and behaviour AND instantly Rewire your brain for success ad well-being.
An over 15-years career in counselling and coaching provides you a safe space to for your personal transformation.
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An executive client recently wrote to me saying, “I feel exhausted and tense and I can’t sleep well. Because of burnout, I lost my concentration, my spirit and my whole power!”
As a mental and behavior expert, I am often confronted with clients who are complaining about tension in their body, frequent headaches and sleeplessness. They might exhibit psychological signs of irritation, feel overwhelmed and distance themselves from work. In the media, “burnout” is used to describe a lot of mental and physical conditions, regardless of the symptoms and their causes. Therefore, the concept of burnout is often vague and blurry. Let’s consider the facts.
Characteristics of Burnout
The World Health Organization defines burnout as a condition resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. Burnout has three defining characteristics, which include “feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion; increased mental distance from one’s job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one’s job; and reduced professional efficacy.” They also emphasize that burnout should be seen in the occupational context and not be used to describe other areas of life.
Keep in mind that non-workplace-related stress factors can cause similar symptoms to burnout and that unmanaged work-related stress can cause mental health issues, like depression and anxiety. This is precisely what I want to help people avoid. Most people simply aren’t aware when they feel stressed and only wake up when they physically and mentally collapse.
Individual Risk Factors
The reasons for burnout vary. In my coaching, I use an adapted checklist from the book Burnout for Experts: Prevention in the Context of Living and Working. Together, with the client, we identify his or her personal workplace stressors so that we can apply the right approach for their burnout recovery and prevention.
In the case of the client who emailed me — let’s call him Marc — he previously felt fully engaged and committed to his work. So committed, in fact, that he often didn’t notice how much time had passed. There was a nagging disagreement with his business partner, but he wanted to maintain harmony. Instead of confronting the business partner, he kept quiet and took on some additional tasks. In our discovery session, he further revealed that financial insecurity had taken a toll on him and he felt he had to sort it out by himself.
There had been signs of energy depletion before, but Marc ignored them. My advice to Marc and others is that it’s time to learn the skills needed to give you the confidence to change your work situation, whether it’s reduced working hours, saying no to tasks, confronting work conflicts, discussing career plans and reward schemes or seeking help.
Resilience, in the context of work, is defined as the ability of a person to recover, bounce back, adjust or respond to workplace stressors, change and adversity. There are two steps you can take in the short term to improve your overall resiliency.
1. Make your neurons fit.
The key factors to make your neurons and your brain fit are sleep, nutrition and exercise.
According to research, adults should get at least six hours of sleep a night. Enough sleep and good sleep quality determine whether you can run at peak performance the next day and help prevent burnout. Recent studieshave also shown that exercise and a diet enriched with the Omega-3 fatty acid DHA (in fish or plant-based foods), fresh fruits and vegetables positively impact synaptic plasticity and cognitive ability. Together, all three can help combat mental health issues.
Marc decided to schedule high-intensity interval trainings in his calendar that he could easily do for 20 minutes at home. He also looked up delivery services that could bring nutritious meals to his office. Most importantly, he set a bedtime so that he could reduce his evening activities and smoothly transition into sleeping.
2. Be emotionally fit to cope with stress.
Mindfulness, self-efficiency and coping strategies are big players when it comes to preventing and reducing burnout.
• Mindfulness: Mindfulness is a mental state in which you can mentally step back and observe what’s going on (e.g., observing your thoughts and feelings) so that you can act with awareness and flexibility. Marc considered his avoidance behavior of not confronting his partner. He realized that this had contributed to his additional workload. He acknowledged that his fear of confrontation was a strategy he had developed during his teenage years and that it was outdated in this stage of his life.
• Self-Efficiency: If you believe you’re able to perform a given task, you’re more likely to actively approach a situation. Your belief in your own capability is highly impacted by past experiences and core beliefs about yourself. Marc felt very competent in the operational side of his business, but had neglected his financial situation and relied on outside accountants. He had not been aware of running costs that caused his financial stress. After a discussion, he remembered that he had actually been quite good with numbers in the past and felt motivated to monitor his finances with diligence from now on.
• Coping Style: Coping is a process of adjustment following an adverse event. This coping strategy can be either active or passive. With an active coping strategy you re-assess the stressful situation, find solutions to the problem or seek professional help. With a passive strategy you try to reduce the emotional impact of the stressor by venting, disengaging or using alcohol or other substances. In Marc’s case he needed to have an amicable talk with his partner to express how his partner’s actions made him feel and what he expected from their partnership. Together, we wrote a script and role-played the communication.
Marc was able to recover from his burnout because he was willing to do a profound inquiry of his workplace and his own behavior patterns and beliefs and then actively make changes. And so can you, if you consider your neuronal and emotional fitness.
This article was first published on Forbes.
Interested? Let’s work together.
Consider how you came to be in this situation. Do you need to make some changes at work, a different job, or a more satisfying relationship? Could it help you to speak to a professional? What needs to happen to prevent the same situation from happening again?
My goal as an executive coach is to provide rapid and long-lasting changes for professionals who go through life changes or challenging situations resulting in burnout, stress and anxiety. No matter where you are in the world, the therapy sessions are held online. 4-Hours of my Elevate Intensive and you will improve the quality of your life, switch your body back to peace and balance, and gain clarity and focus.
I hold a master’s degree in psychology with an over 15-years career in counseling and coaching. I trained with a broad range of international experts like the world-renowned therapist and pioneering hypnotherapist Marisa Peer (Rapid Transformation Therapy Practitioner®), Rori Raye (Relationship Coaching), and Prof. Dr. Justin Kennedy (Applied Neuroscience Coaching).
Contact me today to learn how I can help make things better! www.brainbossmethod.com
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