As we have seen in the previous article, I am a Fraud: How to Understand ImposterSyndrome, this condition is very common, with an estimated 70% of people suffering from Imposter syndrome at some point. Thankfully, there are lots of things that you can do to improve the situation that will have a positive impact on your life. Here, we look at how to get rid of your imposter.
What type of Imposter are you?
When and Why did it start?
Step Out and Question
Know your ‘Narrator’
Practice the Mantra
Be wary of the Hidden Procrastinator
What Really Matters?
Think Like a Business
Set Learning Goals, not Performance Goals
Delegate and Empower
Learn to accept help from others and help others
Practice accepting mistakes
Learn to say, ‘well done!’ to yourself
Embrace positive feedback for what it is
Bea team player in the imposter team.
Listen to Steve Jobs
1. What Type of Imposter Are You?
It can be extremely helpful to learn a little bit more about the type of imposter that you are. Re-read the previous article. Which of the five descriptions fits best from Dr. Valerie Young’s work? Think about what this means in terms of your unproductive behaviours. You will slowly become more conscious of them as you can identify and understand them more. Focus on how you might seek to correct or realign these behaviours with something that you are more comfortable with.
2. When and Why did it start?
Reflect back to the first time that you had Imposter Syndrome, felt like a fraud, or felt that other people were better than you are. When was it? Whilst you might not be able to recall this specifically, there will no doubt be memories that you can recall from an earlier point in your life when you felt this way. It could be earlier in adulthood, adolescence, or childhood. Spend some time and think about this.
When was it? How old were you?
How did you feel?
What triggered these feelings?
Are there any reasons you suspect may be behind why you felt this way?
Imagine that the time machine has been invented. If you could travel back in time to this point in your life when you first recalled these feelings:
What would the adult you to say to the younger you?
What advice would you give? Why?
How does this feel?
This can be an emotional, yet transformational exercise.
3. Step Out and Question
In‘ the now’ find a quiet space alone or with a trusted loved one, friend or colleague. Explain to them that you are exploring how to get rid of your imposter. Think or talk about your feelings of Imposter Syndrome and specifically step out yourself and reflect on the following three questions:
What is the impact on your life of feeling like an imposter?
What benefits does feeling like an imposter bring?
How might your life be different if you didn’t feel like an imposter?
It is important to acknowledge the significance of the second question in this series of three.
All behaviours, no matter how unpalatable they may be, usually have some kind of beneficial purpose, even if we are not immediately conscious of it. It is important that we are aware of this when addressing how to get rid of your imposter.
4. Know your ‘Narrator’
Be conscious of the ‘narrator’ in your mind. In his New York Times bestseller, TheUntethered Soul, Michael A Singer explains this in beautiful, life-changing detail:
“In case you haven’t noticed, you have a mental dialogue going on inside your head that never stops.”
Take some time and reflect on this. Step back. Be observant of your thoughts, do not engage them.
Listen to the thoughts – the voice – inside your head. Write down what it says in a stream of consciousness. You will soon notice that it rambles utter nonsense. Singer states that is hard for us to be objective about the voice, but as soon as we realise its existence, we notice that it never shuts up!
We then notice too, that it is irrational, it changes sides, it babbles away flying off on tangents at supersonic speeds. It…
Passes judgments; makes assumptions – always with little or no information. It asks questions, which it answers, then changes its mind. Worries about tiny, insignificant things. Thinks ridiculous thoughts and argues with itself.
If the narrator were a real person, it would not be someone that you would be prepared to tolerate in your life. Singer likens it to a crazy roommate that lives inside your head.
The thing is that that once you notice the narrator and you listen to it talk, you realise it’s not you. You (the subject) are the one that notices it (the object).
On further reflection, you can also realise that this is the voice of your imposter. Nothing of what it says has any basis in truth. It talks nonsense. It is not you, and what it says is not real.
5. Practice the Mantra
You ,like everyone else on the planet, are a work in progress.
You are not the finished article. No-one ever is.
Think about this.
Say this to yourself.
Be kind to yourself.
I am a Work in Progress!
Read this post here to help you.
6. Be wary of the Hidden Procrastinator
One of the greatest issues of Imposter Syndrome is that it causes hidden procrastination:
“I can’t do X until I know/have learned/ am perfect at doing Y.”
Really challenge the perfectionist within you. Nothing will ever be perfect. Accept this. Be tough with yourself and start to practice ‘late learning.’ In the words of Richard Branson:
“If somebody offers you an amazing opportunity but you are not sure you can do it, say yes – then learn how to do it later!”
7. What Really Matters?
Those people that suffer from Imposter Syndrome spend their entire lives comparing themselves to a kind of perfection that does not exist or is not important.
This kind of comparison is nonsense and drains energy, joy, and hope from your life.It serves no purpose. Be your own person.
You are not here to copy. You are here to live your own life. Be comfortable with being you.
Stop doing the things that make you feel worthless. If necessary, come off social media.
Stop looking at peoples’ qualifications. It doesn’t mean that they are brighter or know more than you. It just means that they have done further education or went to university for a longer period of time. Stop using credentials are a unit of measurement. They are very easy to manipulate.
Instead of thinking about yourself, think of other people. How could you add value to their lives? Think about it and then act.
People will not make fun of you or laugh at you for being kind. Have a perspective on what really matters.
8. Think Like a Business
Ladies in a business meeting in short, depersonalize. If what you said/posted/worked on/created/designed didn’t get the positive feedback that you hoped for then accept that the market demand is not there.
Thi sis not personal. Move on to the next thing. Keep going.
9. Set Learning Goals, not Performance Goals
Performance Goals focus on the performance of an actual task. They can hinder progress where confidence or skill are lacking.
Learning Goals develop competence and are not outcomes focused. They are more positively challenging and less threatening.
Performance goals appeal to the imposter as it’s easy to fail them. They speak to the ‘I told you so’ voice. Learning goals, on the other hand, allow you to make incremental progress.
10. Delegate and Empower
Pen that has written Delegate
As identified in focusing on what really matters above, one of the most effective cures for Imposter Syndrome is to invest your energies in bringing the best out of others, instead of focusing constantly on our own imperfections.
Learning the skill of delegation is one of the most amazing ways to do this. Trust others to do things for you. Take a risk.
The worst that can happen is that something might go wrong. Meh. So what? To grow and develop in life we must learn to fail.
Imagine raising a child who could not cope with failure – how would they cope as an adult?
11. Learn to accept help from others and help others
TheLand of Imposter Syndrome is a lonely place. You do have to be alone and you don’t have to do everything on your own.
Accepting help from others builds relationships, draws you into a team (which can be great for self-esteem) and empowers others. In other words, it’s a mutually beneficial thing!
Mentoring more junior/less experienced colleagues can be very valuable, rewarding and cathartic. Be conscious of the fact that it would be wrong to rob other people of your experience. Share what you have.
12. Practice accepting mistakes
Ice cream dropped mistake
Be conscious of being OK with making mistakes and accepting constructive criticism.
Practice viewing them as a natural part of the learning process. Take them seriously, but don’t take them to heart because everyone gets things wrong.
Geta sense of perspective: getting stuff wrong is not the end of the world and does not make the rest of your life worthless.
Accept your weaknesses as part of who you are then…..
13. Learn to say, ‘well done!’ to yourself
This is probably one of the hardest things that those who suffer from ImposterSyndrome have to contend with. Become used to giving yourself a pat on the back.
Accept that you have played a part in your successes.
Focus on the facts.
Create a file, and when something has gone well, make a note of it – be specific and write down what you did.
Setup an album on your phone and take a quick snap of the things that you are proud of. Read the notes and look at the pictures often. Learn to be your own champion.
Take this one step further by starting to speak positively about yourself.
14. Embrace positive feedback for what it is
Learn to accept compliments.
When people say nice things about you – think about them do you: trust them? Respect them? Value their opinion?
Again, keep a record. Scribble a note or take a picture. Password the folders – they are private and only for you. Spend time with them and acknowledge your strengths when you are feeling like a fraud.
GeoffWatts and Kim Morgan in The Coach’s Case Book take this one step further when they encourage people to collect feedback about themselves from people they respect and admire. They call this the 5-5-5 questionnaire: 5 questions, for 5 trusted and respected people, that take 5 mins for each person to complete.
The questionnaire is completed in written form and, in this instance, uses the following questions:
one word or phrase describes me best?
do you think is my greatest achievement?
do you value most about me?
one thing could I change for my own benefit?
do you believe to be my greatest strength?
When feeling a little braver it’s a great way to tackle the imposter head-on. Again, keep the answers safely for reference later on.
15.Be a team player in the imposter team.
You are not the only one who suffers from Imposter Syndrome – in fact, you are in the bigger team (70%). Be conscious that you are in the majority and not the minority. When you are asked to contribute something and you feel anxious, nervous, or intimidated just do your best and contribute in some way.
Take one for the team, because when you do this, others in the team will start to act too.
Admitting that you don’t know everything is one of the best ways to draw other people in and build relationships. Relationships are often built on the not- knowing, rather than the knowing. In addition – ‘team talk’ with your teammates. Tell them when you feel like a fraud and let them do the same with you. It’s veryvaluable to share these experiences. You will be amazed who feels the same and what positions they occupy!
16. Listen to Steve Jobs
World in hands - change
“The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.” Steve Jobs
Give up being scared. Instead, think about how you can change the world and help other people.
Bethe have-a-go hero. There is a lot of information in this post. For those people not sure where to start in dealing with their imposter, hiring a suitably qualified coach may be beneficial in working through some of these exercises.
I hope you have found this post on how to get rid of your imposter useful.
Now, I’d love to hear from you.
What action are you going to take as a result of reading this article?
Let me know your thoughts. Your observation may inspire someone else who needs help to act.
The Coach’s Casebook
The Untethered Soul