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Understanding Imposter Syndrome: Tips for Overcoming Self-Doubt and Building Confidence

Man looking overwhelmed at computer

This is something I know I have suffered with for many years and naively thought that I was over it now! It was only when I was preparing a workshop I was leading on Imposter Syndrome and reading through the material that it hit me like a tonne of bricks - I STILL very much relate! It may not be to the same extent and it's in different ways, but I am definitely not over it! 🫤

That’s the thing…Imposter Syndrome is not something to get over. It’s not actually a syndrome at all or a mental health illness for that matter. It is just a label to encompass a collection of feelings - feelings that involve self-doubt, uncertainty about your talents and abilities, and a sense of unworthiness that doesn’t align with what others think about you.

Imposter Syndrome is not just feeling like you’re waiting to be found out, it can be more about being unable to accept your competency, achievements and success (without cringing, making excuses, blushing, blaming it on being lucky or being in the right place at the right time!).

According to Valerie Young, an expert in this field, there are 5 types of Imposters

😳The Perfectionist – you cannot accept that you’ve succeeded unless everything is perfect

😳The Superhuman – you cannot accept that you’ve succeeded unless you’re excelling in every area of your life

😳The Natural Genius – you cannot accept that you’ve succeeded if you’re not naturally good at that thing and you’ve had to work hard to get the results you’ve got

😳The Soloist – you cannot accept that you’ve succeeded unless you’ve done it all on your own

😳The Expert – you cannot accept that you’ve succeeded if you don’t know EVERYTHING about that thing -  you feel as though you need to know more and constantly sign up for courses and buy books

I must admit, I relate to all of these!

Which ones do you relate to? 🤔

These may show up in different ways for us in our lives and present us with different challenges that block our potential...

🥴The Perfectionist

You stress over how things are done

You agonise over details and making decisions

Tasks take longer than they need to

You may procrastinate for fear of failing

You feel like you could have done better

🥴The Superhuman

You people please

You feel guilty if you're not pleasing everyone

You worry about letting people down

You may struggle to say no

You experience burnout as you put so much pressure on yourself

You believe you must achieve great things to be considered successful

🥴The Natural Genius

You may avoid trying new things if you think you're not going to be good at it immediately

You say you're not clever if you've succeeded but had to work for it

If something's taken you longer than others to complete, you feel like a failure and a fraud

🥴The Soloist

You struggle to delegate

You often feel overwhelmed

People may take advantage of you as you're always the one to help

You feel like a failure if you've had to ask for help, which you don't often do!

🥴The Expert

You constantly sign up for courses to learn to 'missing' thing that will make you an expert

You have an overflowing bookshelf of books that you HAD to buy

You are triggered when you hear that others know something you don't

You will not allow yourself to be considered an expert if you don't know EVERYTHING

The question is though, how can we overcome this so that we are free to be who we were meant to be, take the pressure off ourselves and appreciate our awesomeness?

Here are 5 tips...

🩷1. Recognise when you're being triggered and understand where your Imposter Syndrome comes from The first step to overcoming any problem is to become aware of it and understand it. Reflect on whether there are underlying fears and beliefs that drive this behaviour for you. For most of us, it's that 'not good enough' belief that is being triggered. You weren't born feeling this way so where have you learnt this? Sometimes you may feel like an Imposter and doubt yourself because of a lack of experience doing that particular thing. If this is the case, the more you do the thing, the more competent you'll become and then the more confident you'll feel. Just keep going!

🩷2. Challenge your thinking

If your Imposter Syndrome is based on a belief that you're not good enough or you are a failure, for example, ask yourself these questions....

Can I know this for certain?

Do I have any evidence that backs this up?

Am I telling myself a story?

We are creatures of habit and most of what we think and do on a daily basis, we've thought or done the day before. This negative way of thinking can sometimes be a habit. It's your default setting. Notice your thoughts, challenge them, then change your behaviour and break the cycle.

🩷3. Celebrate everything!

As we've said, you've probably been in a cycle of negative thinking and burnout for most of your life so it's time to break the habit! Instead of focussing on everything being perfect and moving onto the next thing without reaping the rewards of your hard work, stop and celebrate. Even if you don't feel it to begin with. Just pause and acknowledge how far you've come.

🏆Create your own metaphorical trophy cabinet. This can be in a notebook or on your phone (mine is a colour-coded spreadsheet of course!). Think about the past and write down the following...

✨Your achievements (big and small)

✨Proudest moments


✨Kind words/feedback you've received

And then carve out time at the end of every month to add to it. When that negative Imposter voice pops up in your head and the doubt creeps in, you can whip this out and remind yourself of the truth.

🩷4. Be kind to yourself

Rewiring your mind to believe something different is not always an overnight thing. Repeating affirmations to yourself is a brilliant way of training your brain but these alone will not also get you the results you want. Your body and mind need to be working together. Your mind will not find it easy to believe you are now good enough if you eat takeaways every night, you spend your time with toxic people and you don't take care of yourself.

Think about the actions you could take to embed new, empowering beliefs. Let me ask you this...if you were someone who truly believed they were awesome, what would they do today? What actions would they take? Is there anything they might treat themselves to? Is there anything they might stop doing?

🩷5. Speak to others

We can all get stuck in our own heads from time to time. We all misread situations. We all doubt ourselves. The worst thing you can do is keep this to yourself. If you're anything like me, when I'm feeling overwhelmed my Imposter Syndrome seems to ramp up a gear! I tend to take on even more work, say yes to even more things that I don't have time to do, in an unconscious ploy to prove that I'm good enough maybe? Who knows! Please reach out and share how you're feeling to your colleagues, friends and loved ones. They often know us better than we know ourselves and can help to ground us and get back to the truth. If you work on your own or run your own business, it can be an isolating place to be where our fears can easily escalate and turn in to paralysing monsters, preventing us from moving forwards. Reach out, reach out, reach out!

When my Imposter Personality takes centre stage for a while and my husband catches me spiralling, he puts his hands on my arms and says, 'Who are you? You're Claire f**king Reeves. Don't you forget that'. This has been a game changer for me.

Lady with superhero shadow
Who are you?

Let me ask you this... what is the truth about you? Who are you REALLY?

Need help finding out who you are and how you to overcome any of the challenges you may relate to here?

Book your FREE Exploratory Call with me today to find out how we we can work together.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Big Love, Claire 💕

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