Have you ever been rewarded, recognized, appreciated or complimented for something and have felt awkward to accept it? You say a soft Thank You, but the voice inside tells you – You are a fake? A fraud? You will be soon exposed? You don’t deserve it, may be people are just being nice to you?
Welcome to the world of Imposter Syndrome. I started becoming aware of the imposter syndrome within me back in 2019, when I was studying my first Life Coaching program. One of my team mates complimented me on my photographic skills. I had recently done a family event shoot for her and she was quite pleased with my work. Other members of our team were there too, and I suddenly felt my tummy do a somersault, heart beat faster and skin felt warm. Embarrassed, I blurted out – “Really? Thanks.” Sensing my predicament she asked me – “Why? Don’t you believe that?” I said – “I don’t know. I feel a bit awkward when someone compliments me.” So glad I accepted it openly then. She smiled understandingly and said – “Practice taking credit. You deserve it.” A few days later, I discovered what I was experiencing was nothing but Imposter Syndrome.
On deeper research, I discovered that most people experience it, including Michelle Obama and many featuring in Oprah Winfrey’s star guest list. Now that I had become aware, I consciously started to work with my "I am an imposter" self-talk. Gradually, I found myself handling it better. It has not gone completely, and I am ok with that too. It helps me stay in practice lol. Whenever I experience it, I immediately become conscious of it and work around it. I have put down a few points - these are my ways of dealing with Imposter Syndrome. Hope this helps.
1) Detach yourself and your work – This works with those who associate themselves with whatever they do. What happens is, when we identify ourselves with our work, sometimes the work becomes us. This is detrimental when people criticize or praise our work. Criticism makes us feel “we” are not good enough, and we take it to heart. In reality, it is the work that needs improvement, and we can always improve upon the work and make necessary changes to it. On the other hand, when someone praises us, we don’t believe it. The untrained mind takes hurt more seriously than appreciation. Practice seeing your work as it is. It is a separate entity for which you have put your skills and talent and time. This will help you take credit for the work you’ve done.
2) Attach yourself with your work – This is just the opposite of the above. Some are so detached with their work, that they wouldn’t even mind handing over the credit to someone else. While sharing credit with others is a great thing, if it is something emerging from lack of self-belief, then your true growth stops there. Practice taking credit for everything that you do, your knowledge, your wisdom, your work and your efforts.
3) Look at your past achievements and list them down – This works every single time. I’d say not just write them down, but paste it/clip it up somewhere where you can easily get to see it. For auditory learners, record yourself speaking about your own accomplishments and make yourself listen to it at least once a day.
4) Embrace being real, not perfect – Hello Perfectionistas!!!! Spiritually speaking, you ARE perfect and whole, but in order to embrace your wholeness, accepting your not-so-great-yet traits is what catapults you towards your inner peace. It feels liberating to be real, while knowing that you are doing what you need to do in order to evolve into the next better version of yourself.
5) Exercise the mind by regularly challenging yourself - Look around you, who does not make mistakes? Allowing your mistakes or flaws to stop you from taking action keeps you in the stuck state forever. Embrace the growth mindset. Try to do new things. See how that feels. Celebrate your wins - small or big. Doubt your own doubts by questioning them whenever they come to your mind. Repeat these lines – "I am safe. I am evolving. It is ok to be me. I am exactly where I am meant to be." Because you really are.
6) Practice affirmations on strengthening self-belief – Positive affirmations are key to personal growth. Practice saying out loud or in your mind affirmations such as “I am enough. I believe in my abilities. My skills are highly sought after. I approve of myself. I love being appreciated. I am loved. I am loveable.”
7) Be the Imposter (Fake It till you Make it!) – This is the best piece of advice I could share with anyone with Imposter Syndrome. When you are the Imposter, Be the Imposter fully!!!!! Pull your shoulders back, raise your head, take a deep breath, look in your eyes, and say “I can do it. I am doing it. I am loving it.” Don’t absolute yourself ever. You are evolving every moment, and you can at will mould yourself into a version that best serves your highest good – your growth of potential and fulfilment of purpose.
I strongly believe that anything that signifies the presence of the unhealthy Ego mind is a good thing. Over the years, I have started to actually enjoy working with it. It helps me exercise my mindfulness muscles to foster the healthy Ego of my being. In psychology, it is the healthy versus the unhealthy Ego. In spirituality, we call it the Lesser and the Higher Self. Ego is part of You, let it be. Don’t fight it. Work with it. That being said, Imposter Syndrome is not something to be scared of. Look at it for what it is and allow it to help you flourish into a better, happier, more fulfilled version of You.
How do you face Imposter Syndrome? Let me know if the above points helps. Happy Self-Development to You! :-)
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