What is Imposter Syndrome (And How To Get Passed It)
Imposter Syndrome is something that affects a lot of people when they begin a new journey in their life. Whether it's a new job, promotion, or starting a business, Imposter Syndrome can prevent you from growing and becoming successful.
What you'll Get From This Episode:
Understand what imposter syndrome is
Learn why you experience imposter syndrome
How to overcome imposter syndrome
And So Much More
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Episode 4 Transcript
Hello, and welcome to the I'll Take That Win podcast with your host, Steven Westwood, reminding you that to achieve that dream, it takes Just One Step.
Hello, all you Winners out there listening to the I'll Take That Win podcast. How are you? I am phenomenal. I am on cloud nine. This is episode four. Can you believe that we're already on episode four? I'm still shocked. I am shook.
I want to start off by apologizing for the sound of the last podcast. I'm not entirely sure what happened there, but I'm hoping that I have rectified it. As I announced last week, there is a competition. Now this competition is going to run until the 29th of April. The 29th of April is a very important day. It's my birthday! I will accept gifts, cards, um, well-wishes - feel free to write on my page wishing me a happy birthday. So the competition is to win a signed copy of my book. I'm going to give that to 10 winners, 10 very lucky people who have liked my page, who have followed my podcast who have reviewed my podcast on my page and who have shared my podcast.
So last week we looked at fear of failing, fear of failure. We all experience it. This week I would like to talk more on Imposter syndrome. So imposter syndrome is an internal experience. It is a thought process that someone might go through if they are afraid that they are not as competent as other people to perform the same task.
I have found that a lot of things. writers, copywriters and people within the creative industry suffer from imposter syndrome. And it is an awful, awful feeling. If you can remember back to the first episode of my podcast, you will remember that I believe that our thoughts drive our feelings, our thoughts create and drive our emotions.
Imposter syndrome, therefore, is a series of thoughts. They are thoughts of self-doubt. They are thoughts driven by holding ourselves to high expectations. And I don't just mean like, "Oh, you've got high standards". I'm actually talking about exceedingly high expectations, unrealistically high expectations.
We usually experienced imposter syndrome when we are starting something new. It is called a transitional experience. So if you're, if you are embarking on a new career, if you're newly promoted, it can trigger these sorts of feelings of being inadequate. And this can have a deep impact on your ability to function. It can make you feel as if you can't do the job and you're questioning every decision that you make.
This has an impact on how you are perceived by others. You are essentially underestimating your own value, your own skills and your own accomplishments. And you are comparing yourself to other people who you deem to be more competent than yourself.
When I first started as a copywriter, when I first started as an entrepreneur, a business owner. I didn't really have time to think of imposter syndrome, not when I first started. It wasn't until I became full-time that I experienced it as an entrepreneur, but there was a time before that when I truly felt like an impostor. And that was when I first started teaching. So, as a newly appointed teacher who is still in training, you are expected to be able to plan and teach a class of 30 pupils.
And I can remember standing there at the front of the classroom after planning my first lesson and. Being nervous and anxious. And I got five seconds into it and I had the thought of, "I can't do this", "I'm not good enough to teach", "I'm a rubbish teacher". "I can't do this". And literally the end of that day, I wanted to cry.
So I have experienced it and it is an awful, awful feeling. But there is some good news, some light at the end of the tunnel. And that is - imposter syndrome goes away. You can get rid of impostor syndrome, you can remove these negative thoughts. Remember your feelings are connected to your thoughts, your thoughts drive your emotions.
Imposter syndrome is an emotion. It is a negative thought process. So there are things we can do to remove them. It is not a one size fits all. It is not something that we can do overnight, but it is something that we can improve with time, we can heal with time.
So to stop feeling like an impostor, first of all, it helps to actually speak to somebody it's not about, um, confessing, it's not about complaining. It is about being honest and open about how you feel and how you would like to improve. It is also important for you to learn how to separate facts from feelings. In fact, in any part of your business as an entrepreneur, anything that you do, career-wise, it's important that you understand the difference between a fact and a feeling.
So a fact is something that can be proven. It is proven to be true using data, using reports, using evidence that cannot be interpreted because it's hard facts - it is that in front of you. Feelings, on the other hand, are subjective. They are linked to your emotional state. They are a reaction to a situation that stems from our values, our beliefs or an idea, especially if it is vague or irrational.
So what happens is, in our minds, we start to confuse the feelings that we're experiencing with facts. Let's say, for example, that somebody says something that offends you. The offence to what they have said is a feeling. It does become irrelevant as to what they've actually said. If you let them get to you if you are the one who is feeling offended that is on you. That is your emotions, which are driven by your thoughts.
I can remember this one time when I was working for a client and they wanted me to write product descriptions. I'm the first to admit I don't enjoy writing product descriptions, but this is going back a few years now, this is before I decided to specialize on the services that I do provide. So I met the brief, I know I met. The brief, because we discussed the brief in detail and I followed the brief to the letter and this person was not happy with what I had produced. Um, in fact, their exact words were "this is complete and utter garbage, I can not use this and I am not going to pay you for this until you've rectified the mess that you have created". And at first, I was rather hurt because I know the quality of my work, I pride myself on the quality of my work. So I then asked them for suggestions and they told me that it was my job - I should know what I'm doing.
And it did play with my mind. Like I said, I felt really bad. I felt really down, I started having those feelings of not being good enough. That's when I learned that you have to separate the facts from the feelings. This person, they ended up being what I would refer to as a "nightmare of a client". So when I asked them exactly what was wrong with the product descriptions, they could not answer me.
And basically, this went on for weeks and weeks. And in the end, I turned around and I said, look, I have provided you exactly what you've asked me for now pay. And I was nice about it. But the gist of it is don't darken my door again. Um, and sometimes you have to have that resilience. You have to have that ability to know when to say enough.
Imposter syndrome, unfortunately, is one of those situations where you are your own worst enemy. You are the one that is creating this environment for yourself, where you do not feel good enough. And it is based on your feelings. It is based on your emotional reaction to a new situation and the best way to get over that. And the best way to move on from imposter syndrome is to start working on practising what it is that you're doing.
If I go back to teaching for a minute, the more I practice standing in front of that classroom, the more I practice teaching and testing and monitoring and building up my experience, the better about teaching I felt. I did not feel the need to run off and get validation from people. I did not feel the need to seek validation by comparing myself to others.
That validation comes from within you. And that validation comes with experience. There are still times even today where I don't feel like I am good enough. There are still times even today where I don't feel like I am capable of being competent. And it's one of those feelings. It's one of those thoughts that does sometimes creep back.
Now I have started doing this podcast, like I said, this is episode four and I'm still feeling very unsure of a lot of the processes. I'm still feeling very unsure as to the quality of my podcast. One of the biggest causes of impostor syndrome is actually being afraid to fail.
We all have been there. We've all failed. We've all fallen on our faces. I have - last week we discussed it in great detail. So if we learn how to deal with failure in a healthy way, and we learned to accept that failure is part of the journey. We are less likely to suffer from imposter syndrome. And I can hear you saying, "Oh, this is all fantastic advice and glad that you're discussing this Steven, but what does this have to do with goal-setting?"
Well, it has everything to do with goal setting. If you suffer from imposter syndrome, what is going to happen is, you are not going to realistically be able to assess your competence and skills. You will forever be attributing your success to other factors outside of your responsibility.
Now let's not get mixed up here. Let's make sure that we're all on the same page. You are responsible for your thoughts. You are responsible for the way you behave. You are responsible for the way that you think. You are responsible for your actions, you are responsible for your results.
Imposter syndrome (and even overachievers suffer from imposter syndrome) tend to sabotage their own success and the way they sabotage their own success is by not feeling good enough, not feeling capable or competent enough to follow through with a goal. And it makes setting goals extremely challenging.
And you're more likely to experience negativity when you do not succeed. And remember, part of success is failing. When we fail, we learn from our mistakes. We understand that the process that we went through to try and achieve that goal, didn't work this time. We then need to bounce back.
But if you have imposter syndrome, if you're feeling like a fraud, what will happen is you will stop yourself from feeling that way by preventing yourself from setting a goal and taking action. Now, imposter syndrome also looks like a lot of different things.
So, I mentioned last week about being a perfectionist, how that is actually a fear of failure. It is also a sign that you are suffering from imposter syndrome. There is also the superhero - the one who always has to come to the rescue. There is also the expert - the one who is not only trying to learn but I never actually satisfied with their level of understanding. So then you have the soloist - who are the type of people who are very individualistic and they prefer to work alone. They prefer being alone, they develop their self worth from being productive.
Now, these are just a few there's loads of information online about imposter syndrome. These are just the ones that I have witnessed and observed and felt myself. So it's always good when we are looking at overcoming imposter syndrome to discuss it, basically, I've mentioned it earlier on, I'm mentioning it again now, share your feelings. Open up about the fact that you are feeling inadequate and open up about the fact that you're feeling inadequate because you don't feel competent. Explain it to the person you are talking to, Be it a Coach, like myself, be it a friend, be it a work colleague, be it a work mentor, be it a boss.
Be it, whoever it is that you're talking to. Just make sure that you are honest and open with how you are feeling that's because Imposter Syndrome is an irrational belief. It's an irrational feeling, emotion, whatever word you want to use and what will happen if you don't discuss it is over time you're going to feel worse, it will continue to fester and grow within you until you get to that stage where do you just can't take it anymore.
Okay. The other things that you could do, which do sound counter-intuitive is you could focus on other people. So it's not the same as focusing on how they are competent compared to you. This is focusing on how you can be of service to other people, how you can help other people.
The next thing to do is understand your abilities. If you regularly assess your abilities, just like when goal-setting, if you regularly assess what kind of progress you are making, what will happen is you will not actually be able to identify any gaps. You will naturally be able to identify exactly how qualified you are for that position, for that role, for that career, for that business that you have, you don't need to stress yourself out.
Now, the other thing that you could do is, it's a bit of an affirmation. So you can write down all of your achievements, write down everything that you have got that proves that you are just as competent and trustworthy as what others believe.
Remember imposter syndrome is about what you feel and think of yourself. Not what other people are thinking. So if you can find a way to convince yourself that you are indeed as valuable and as important as other people deem you to be, then you will have no issue whatsoever.
The other thing is don't rush this. Like I've said, this is a process when it comes to our feelings when it comes to our emotions and changing our mindsets. Is not something that will happen overnight. Take your time with it. Take baby steps. Stop comparing yourself to others. If need to, come off social media if that is your thing. Start taking care of yourself and your own mental health and start taking it seriously.
This is a side note. This is going off-topic slightly. I have in the past, suffered with depression and I've had to undergo Cognitive Behavioural Therapy in order to, first of all, understand the thought processes that I was going through and where they were stemming from, and then to change them. Now, this did not happen overnight.
This was a weekly meeting that I would have with a professional. And it is something that I will never forget. And it took months even after the therapy had finished, even after my meetings stopped, I continued developing and I continued working on myself. This was a few years ago, but I just want to point out that this is going to take work.
If you're going to overcome your imposter syndrome, it is going to take work. Some other strategies that you could do include creating what I call a "Thought Dump. It could also be called a "Thought Download". It's basically the concept that whenever you have these thoughts, whenever you have a feeling behind this thought a negative feeling behind this thought of being an impostor - You write it down.
Then what you do is you challenge that thought you challenge the way you're feeling about that thought. And the way you do that is you ask yourself, "Is this thought helpful or is it hindering me?" Chances are, if it is a negative thought, chances are, if it is a thought that is under the umbrella of imposter syndrome, it is going to be hindering you. It is not helping you.
Now I have discussed in the past episodes, I believe it was the first one where our minds like to maintain the status quo. Our minds like to be comfortable. They don't like us to get out of our comfort zones. And when we do our minds instantly react by using fear to stop us from rocking the boat, to stop us from being able to take action.
And that's the kind of thought processes that lead to imposter syndrome. Of not feeling good enough, of not being as good as everybody else, of not being in a position where you are comfortable in your own skin and you are comfortable enough to be competent. And it is down to that old "fear is something that we evolved to have" - it all boils down to that.
Which is why using the thought dump or the thought download method is a fantastic way for you to, first of all, understand what your thought processes are and how you feel. And secondly, they're a fantastic way for you to learn how to deal with those thought processes and learn how to code and change the way in which your mind works. This is called reframing. Okay. It is part of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy to an extent because it's changing your thought processes. It's changing the way your mind thinks about yourself. Um, I just find this absolutely fascinating. I honestly, imposter syndrome is one of those topics that I could talk about all day, every day.
It's just anything to do with the mind I find absolutely fascinating. And again, this is one of those topics as well, where I went down the rabbit hole whilst researching, um, and I wanted to cover this topic because it has come up so much and I wanted to cover this topic because it's something that is close to me.
It's something that I have experienced then it's not a very nice feeling. And I just want you to know that there is support for you out there, and there are ways for you to overcome it. If you're in the position to feel free, to reach out. Remember, my Facebook page is Steven Westwood Coaching. Now as always, I will be providing links in the description for this episode, I will also provide links for the live coaching sessions that I am currently doing every Thursday on YouTube and Facebook Live. And I will also provide the links for some of the resources that I found just to help with this particular topic. So you can actually research it yourself and understand better how imposter syndrome impacts people, how it can impact you, why you're going through it and to find the support out there in order for you to overcome it. So I want to say thank you very much for listening to today's podcast. It has been a pleasure as always, and I am excited because next week is episode five.
I still, cannot believe that I am four episodes in already. I have been doing this for four weeks and it is not getting old. This is so much fun. And I can't wait to continue sharing. Have a great week and make good choices and be kind to yourself. Thank you. I'll see you next week. Bye. Bye.
You have been listening to the I'll Take That Win podcast with Steven Westwood, reminding you that your path to success starts with Just One Step.