Imposter syndrome can strike anyone, at various stages of life and at all professional levels. It is not restricted to one gender, class, culture, sexuality, because it is a human reaction to societal pressure, to prove one’s worth. Many people start off in their careers with the utmost motivation and confidence, however there maybe challenges and roadblocks along the way. These encounters can often result in individuals questioning their abilities and skills, along with a lack of sense of who they are.
As you read this, you may have been in the company of friends and peers who may want to improve their life in some way. They may want to overcome a struggle that prevents them from being okay with who they are. They may be struggling with underlying issues associated with imposter syndrome. Some have achieved a certain level of success but wonder why they feel so chronically empty and insecure; like something is missing. Equally, it’s like they can’t fully enjoy their triumphs; feeling like a fake or feel undeserving of their accomplishments. Many will indulge in negative self-talk; procrastinate; make excuses and rarely take any action.
If the above sounds like you, working with a trained psychotherapist can support you to manage the shadow of the imposter syndrome. I believe, by first understanding the underlying reasons for the negative beliefs; emotions and the intrusive thoughts that contribute to these feelings, you can begin to make sense of it.
For example clients have shared it’s like they are merely playing a role in life, but they truly do not have what it takes to empathically continue; being okay with their jobs, their successes, or their accomplishments. Nevertheless, with time, this lack of self-compassion can wear them down, leading to burnout and other emotional struggles.
By exploring some background on the impact of imposter syndrome along with the underlying factors that fuel these beliefs, a psychotherapist can guide an individual in developing a diary of their intrusive thoughts. Some of these thoughts may involve a lot of self-judgment. I work with individuals who make very harsh and critical statements about who they are on a constant basis.
It can be transformative when clients understand that they may have been conditioned to believe they must be harsh on themselves, in order to succeed and reach their goals. I encourage clients to look at what they do, in the way they do it rather than compare. It’s imperative we remain in our own lanes, we have our own stories, beliefs, styles and values. Another challenge is encouraging individuals to start liking themselves as they are versus what is expected of them. If left unchecked self-doubt can create, a fear of being judged and not good enough which can lead to isolation.
To summarise, by replacing negative and intrusive thoughts with more positive, kind, and nurturing messages to the self, individuals can begin to feel empowered. They learn to believe in their skills and capabilities. Beliefs about being an imposter can be substituted for greater kindness and acceptance of the self. I have worked with clients who have been amazed at what they can do and how well they can perform, when they give themselves more compassion and greater empathy.If you would like to 1) to break the silence 2) develop a new script and 3) separate the fantasies from the facts, reach out to a UKCP psychotherapist today https://www.psychotherapy.org.uk/find-a-therapist/
Psychotherapist - MSc Psych, PTSTA (P), CTA (P), UKCP, MBACP