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Confidence, Resilience & Mindset - 07-11-2023 - - 0 comments
How to manage imposter feelings & self-doubt

In my last blog, Imposter Syndrome Insights, I wrote about Imposter Syndrome, sharing my dislike for the label, and an invitation to become aware of your negative internal dialogue and limiting beliefs to prevent that narrative from becoming self-fulfilling.

I also talked about gender differences I have observed in my coaching clients over the years, and aimed to shine a light on intersectional experiences and the work we all need to do to help each other rise.

Imposter Syndrome has been described as self-doubt of intellect, skills, or accomplishments and is often experienced by high-achieving individuals.

Here are 10 strategies and insights you can start using right away to manage imposter feelings & self-doubt.


1) Change the language

One of the most important things you can do is to change the language. Instead of saying you have Imposter Syndrome, try expressing your feelings using words that are neutral or even a bit silly. For example, I have a little niggle here with me, this is a wobbly belly moment, I notice I'm feeling a bit uncertain, I'm dancing on my growth edge, and it's giving me goose pimples.


2) Why changing the language works

Beliefs are created and held at different levels. Taking a condition to the identity level “I have imposter syndrome" makes it part of our identity and amplifies it. Expressing something at a behavioural level keeps it at the level of what is happening in this moment instead of embedding it at the deeper level of this is who I am or what I have at all times.


3) Ask for help

It can feel counterintuitive to speak up when you are sat with a fear that you are not good enough and a belief that you are meant to know it all or make it look easy. The problem with hiding and pretending you're OK is that often the knowledge, tip, or reassurance you need in a troubled moment is often out there waiting to surface in a conversation with a colleague, coach, or friend. If you stew in the negative thoughts and feelings alone you are likely to feel worse, not better for it.


4) Learn about your strengths and lean into them

When you have clarity about your strengths and are in an environment and a role that draws on them, you become your most unstoppable self. Think about what comes most naturally to you and when you have been proud of yourself. What strengths were you drawing on? Consider the feedback you have received from others - what strengths did they reflect back to you? If you make this a regular reflection practice or keep a strength log over time, this will build a solid foundation for your self-confidence.


5) Remember that NO ONE knows it all or has all the answers

Some of the wisest people I know often don't have the 'right answers' but what they bring is great questions. Curiosity about what is happening or needed. The humility to say I want to do X but it's not easy for me and I could do with some help in the form of XYZ. Self-awareness is very important in life and leadership and that includes knowing where your edges are.


6) Celebrate your wins & be intentional about positivity

Get really good at celebrating your wins and develop a regular gratitude practice. At the end of each day, recall all the great things that happened. The contributions you made, fun moments shared, tasks you completed, etc. and feel the gratitude for all that you have achieved, experienced, learned ...and all that is still to come. There's a truckload of research out there confirming that people who look back with gratitude and celebrate their accomplishments are more confident, happier, and more optimistic about the future.


7) You are not going to feel confident every day, and that's OK

If you are striving to feel confident, 'in the zone', and on top of your game every day. Then you have forgotten that you are human. We are not machines, and you are going to have off days but if you make this mean you are not good enough and believe you should never have a bad day - then what you're really saying is you would like to be a robot. And let's face it that might be a real option soon, but for now, let's enjoy the glorious messiness that is the full and beautiful human experience.


8) Be both real AND generous with yourself

Do reflect on what you are doing, bringing, and the quality of your contributions. BUT avoid dropping into the trap of over-focusing on the negatives and feeding the little voice of self-doubt. Question the voice in your head saying you are not enough - spend as much if not more time on that process than you do self-critiquing. In these moments, Imposter Syndrome wants to throw you in jail. Your job is to defend yourself. If you find this hard, ask yourself, "Is this thought based on facts or fear?” And consider what you would say if you were defending a friend.


9) Choose authenticity over perfectionism

There is no such thing as perfect. We live in an imperfect world, and you're setting yourself up to feel bad if you try to be perfect. It's like running down the field trying to score a goal, but the goalpost is constantly moving away from you, and the faster you run, the faster it moves. At some point, you're going to drop in a heap from exhaustion. It's OK to value excellence and quality and to want to be the best version of you. But be that... the best version of YOU right now with all that you know and all that you don't yet know ... not some unrealistic ideal you or someone you are comparing yourself to. And be willing to suck at something new until you get good at it.


10) Embrace failure as a learning opportunity

Recognise that failure is a natural part of growth and success. Embrace it as an opportunity to learn and improve. Instead of viewing setbacks as evidence of your inadequacy, see them as stepping stones on your journey to success. I love the FAIL acronym For All I Learn.


It's OK to feel unsure at times, it's a signal you care, and that in itself is an indicator of your valuable contribution. But nobody wins when you dim your light and hold yourself back from sharing your gifts with the world.


If you'd like to find out about 1-to-1 career change & development programmes, or coaching for your team/organisation get in touch or click here to book a call. 

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Picture credit: arthurhidden

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