28 Jan Feeling like a Fraud? An Imposter is Stealing Your Power
Feeling like a fraud at work, school or within a relationship? Do you fear that you’ll be unmasked when others realize you don’t deserve what you’ve achieved? You’re not alone in having an imposter steal your power and joy. Imposter Syndrome is real. Recognizing it is a start.
Award winning author, poet, activist, Maya Angelou once said, “I have written 11 books but each time I think ‘Uh-oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.’”
This may sound overly humble when you think about the accomplishments and legacy left to us by Angelou. However, can you identify with the feelings communicated? I can. The belief is that you’ve pulled one over on people. That you don’t deserve your accomplishments. It’s not uncommon.
I’ve observed this in both new college grads with 1st jobs to those at the top of their career game. The anxiety brought on by self-doubt and feeling not good enough on a regular basis can lead to symptoms such as sleepless nights, stomach problems, procrastination, rumination, and fatigue.
Atlanta clinical psychologists Suzanna Imes and Pauline Rose Clance coined the term Imposter Syndrome in the 1970’s. Originally, it was presented as a female issue. Minority groups could be more likely to feel like a fraud with success, however, it’s now widely accepted to be part of the human experience. It’s more common with high achievers who aren’t able to internalize their success. Perfectionism doesn’t help either. Essentially, accomplishments are attributed to luck rather than to ability.
Decrease Imposter Syndrome
- Challenge the Critic: List evidence against what your self-critic is telling you. Such as, you deserve your promotion because you have the right degree, 9 years of experience, excellent reviews, consistent results, etc.. Keep the list handy to read when the imposter starts whispering in your ear.
- Practice Mindfulness: Use grounding techniques in the moment to get out of your imposter head and back to present reality. Examples: Breathe, meditation, have a quick conversation with friend or family, drink a cold glass of water, smell an essential oil that you like.
- Self-Compassion: Acknowledge the feelings of doubt, fraud, unworthiness. Soothe yourself the way you would a friend. Self-compassion helps you move on calmly much quicker than continuing to criticize yourself.
- Mistakes Happen: Learn to accept that mistakes are part of learning and growing. A low tolerance for making a mistake will often falsely signal an anxious mind that you don’t deserve your job, weight loss, great kids, etc…
- Mentor or Accountability Partner: Talk with your mentor or accountability partner about your concerns. A person who knows how hard you’ve worked can relate to your feelings and remind you of your efforts and results. Intimate partners and family work too, but sometimes we discount their input because we feel like they have to be kind.
- Limit Social Media: While distraction provides a break from negative thoughts, social media can increase the feelings of self-doubt inherent with Imposter Syndrome through comparing yourself with others. Comparison in general is a thief of joy and confidence.
So if you’d like to lessen Imposter Syndrome in your life and reclaim your power, working with a therapist can be a great first step. Call or email me to schedule a 30-minute consultation via the phone or in person. You deserve to feel proud of your accomplishments and embrace future growth.
Kate Murphy, LMSW
Kate Murphy, a therapist in Chamblee, GA, specializes in helping you decrease stress and anxiety. You can live a more balanced, connected, and meaningful life. Kate works with individuals and couples over the age of 18 to support healing, communicating, and experiencing joy more often.