The Imposter Within

As someone who has thought of herself as "Mrs Average" on and off for most of her professional life, does "Imposter Syndrome" support me as a warm, safe comfort blanket?

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"If I think that something's not possible, I'm arguing in favour of limitation.  And if I argue in favour of limitations, I get to keep them" (Gay Hendricks - The Big Leap)


So where does my feeling of "imposter syndrome" come from?  

As with most limiting beliefs they are picked up in childhood through our experiences and repeated comments from those we respect, or in authority, that become ingrained in our brains.  

Early examples for me are: In class I was always in the middle of the top set - never at the top; My parents, especially my father, telling me how special I was, even though I didn't feel at all special and I didn't have many friends so I couldn't have been that special.

Then, dropping out of sixth form because I didn't want to go on to University - even though that was the route I was "expected to take", to not being able to cope with my first supervisory position and suffering a period of depression, even though I'd passed the assessment centre with flying colours, to not feeling strategic and worldly-wise enough for my HR Business Partner role even though I'd been complimented on my commercial awareness demonstrated during the interview.

All show me shrouding myself in my "Imposter Syndrome Blanket" to keep me safe. That way I didn't have to put myself out there and set myself up for the fall that I knew was bound to come because:

  • I wasn't brainy enough really
  • I wasn't management material really
  • I wasn't worthy of such a Senior HR Position really

Notice the words that I use consistently..."not enough"  "really" - signs indeed of the imposter's voice within.

If you recognise similar symptoms - how can you handle those feelings of an imposter within?

1.  Reflect back and think about where you think this belief has come from?  Recognise it as something that has been picked up in the past -  you can choose to work on it and let it go.

2. Think about why this belief is not helpful to you, how is it keeping you from the life that you want?

3.  If you were to state the absolute opposite to your limiting beliefs, what would they become?  e.g.  "I am not brainy enough" becomes "I am brainy enough"  "I'm not worthy of such a senior position" becomes "I am worthy/I deserve this senior position"

4.  Look for the evidence that supports your new positive beliefs:  "I have studied in the past, I enjoy learning, I can learn more"  "I have worked hard for this promotion, I passed the interview with positive feedback, I can do this".

5.  Think about how your life will be different if you practice these new empowering beliefs

6.  Decide to take action.  What can you do to add more evidence to support your newfound positive beliefs?


I cannot say that my Imposter Syndrome and the warmth of that protective blanket does not exist anymore.  It has a tendency to rear its head when I am thinking of doing something that is outside of my comfort zone, that will be challenging or stretching in some way.

As humans we are a "work in progress" - I grow with the support of my Coaching Supervisor and the Continuing Professional Development I undertake.  You too can grow with personal and professional development and perhaps, the support of a coach.


Michelle Tranter

Career and Life Coach , Fields of Change Ltd - Achieve More, Live More

The World of Work can often be a challenging place to be. I am a qualified Personal Development, Career and Business Coach, with significant personal experience of leadership development, HR and Operational Management roles. Having worked with clients from many sectors, I understand the often difficult and sensitive nature of the situations being faced. Specialising in working with the human inside the job title, I help you to explore what is really going on for you, who you are, what you want and how you will get there. Whether you are looking for work, facing difficult times at work/home or feeling stuck in a rut and want to "reboot", I can help. Work with me face to face or via Skype/Phone/Facetime I am a: - Featured Expert with Abintegro (the career development portal) - Associate Career Transition Coach for Hays Plc, - Recruitment and Talent Assessor for a number of companies - Associate Leadership Development Facilitator for North Lindsey College and KSL-Training. I offer one-to-one sessions, workshops, webinars and also work with teams in organisations. Free taster sessions

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