This week we are talking all things imposter syndrome. I get so many amazing, incredible, creative, intelligent women coming to me saying: “I struggle so much with imposter syndrome. I do not know how to break free of it.” So let’s explore it.
Imposter syndrome is a psychological occurrence in which an individual doubt their skills, talents, or accomplishments, and has a persistent, internalized fear of being exposed as a fraud. So imposter syndrome is a way of describing a very particular set of experiences that many of us have, and the term imposter syndrome was first coined in 1978 and was used to describe experiences related to high achieving women.
Imposter syndrome will show up in your workplace or your business and your may feel like a phony or a fake, like someone’s going to catch you out, that you don’t deserve the role that you are in, or the success your are achieving, and that it’ll all get taken away from you sometime soon. When imposter syndrome is present we are dealing feelings of fear, self-doubt and low self worth.
In this podcast I’ll give you some tools, and clarity on how to finally put imposter syndrome in its place!
Full Episode Transcript
Kia ora, I’m Meegan Care mindset coach and meditation teacher. This podcast is here to help you unwind self-doubt, people pleasing, imposter syndrome, and overwhelm so you can step into the confident leader you were born to be. Women, it is time to bring your purpose into the world in an impactful way without sacrificing your wellbeing. Are you ready? Let’s begin.
Welcome to episode two. This week we are talking all things imposter syndrome. I get so many amazing, incredible, creative, intelligent women coming to me, saying I struggle so much with imposter syndrome. I do not know how to break free of it. So let’s explore it. It’s gonna give you some tools, some clarity on what on earth is going on in that brain of yours in all of our brains.
Cause actually it happens to, from the research that I’ve done around about 70% of the entire population experience, imposter syndrome from time to time. So where do you go when you wanna learn about something? A definition. You go to Google. Of course. Who doesn’t? But I actually like it because it gives me a good one liner that gives a solid foundation for actually, what are we talking about? Let’s make sure we are on the same page together. Yeah.
So Google says, imposter syndrome is a psychological occurrence in which an individual doubt their skills, talents, or accomplishments, and has a persistent, internalized fear of being exposed as a fraud. So imposter syndrome is a way of describing a very particular set of experiences that many of us have, and the term imposter syndrome was first coined in 1978 and was used to describe experiences related to high achieving women.
Of course its definition has changed over the last 40 to 50 years and more recent research suggests that imposter syndrome is actually fairly evenly spread among men and women, interestingly, and how it shows up for many women that come to me saying, Hey, I’m feeling really stuck with imposter syndrome, is it will show up in their workplace or their business and they feel like a phony or a fake, like someone’s gonna catch you out.
And I actually remember it really well when I was doing my counseling training and I had to go through psychotherapy at the. Of course to be a good counselor, you’ve gotta do your own work. You’ve gotta look at your own shit inside yourself, right? And my therapist said to me, in regards to the training that I was doing, and I was really struggling, it was really out of my comfort zone.
Are you scared? Are you worried that you’re going to be found out, that somebody’s gonna catch you out? And even though it didn’t make sense to me logically, That’s actually what was going on in my nervous system in my body. And at the time, I didn’t name it as imposter syndrome, but there was definitely an element of that going on for me.
So that was really useful for me to investigate that, actually what is underneath the surface of what I’m speaking about here. So anyway, in the 1970s, the interventions for imposter syndrome, what they first used to help women move through it was group therapy. Within the group therapy sessions, women were hearing from other women experiencing the same feelings and thoughts that they were having.
And just by sharing this experience, this actually led to them resolving some of their imposter syndrome just by sharing it, just by speaking about it. And researchers at the time suggested that by identifying self doubt in the lead up to an event, this was gonna be really helpful in eliminating imposter syndrome.
So what do we take from this? What we can take from this is that we’ve gotta talk about things, right? We have to talk about what’s going on inside of us. How many times have I seen a woman share vulner? In a group about her experience and she’s feeling really alone in it. And it is a big thing for her to share.
I haven’t shared this with anyone before, and she shares her experience and then there’s other women in the group that are like, yeah, I identify with that. I felt like that too, or, I do feel like that now. And just having that feedback that reflected back to us in a non-judgmental way and a way of, yeah, I’ve experienced this too, can relieve so much of the shame that’s around our beliefs, our feelings, our thoughts, that all feed into imposter syndrome.
So we’re gonna talk about that stuff that’s underneath the surface, right? It does not serve us to try and push things down and march ahead, trying to be a particular way. We’ve really gotta come into deep relationship with ourselves, and that starts by sharing that with others, with people that you trust.
So the researchers at the time really emphasize the importance of self-worth as a way to minimize the effects of imposter syndrome. and here’s some signs that they suggest point towards an experience of imposter syndrome, and they are: a tendency towards perfectionism, feelings of anxiety, fear of failure, low self-worth, low self-confidence, feeling fear or guilt around success, fear of success.
That is a very common belief that many of us have, and also the need to be perfect or the need to be the best. Otherwise, we can’t feel good about ourselves. That’s very common as well. So you might have been labeled as the smart one, the intelligent one, as a child, as a young person. And what this does is actually it means that there’s high expectations.
They get unknownly pushed onto us from our parents. I had that experience as a kid, so I was fairly smart or school smart academic when I was young. And so I had that label of being really smart and really intelligent. Had a lot of praise for getting you know, 99 out of a hundred, all that kind of stuff.
And then when I got to high school, things got harder, right? And I was in a bigger pool, lots more kids, and things got harder and I couldn’t just cruise. But cause of the way that things were so easy for me at primary school, I fell over when I failed when I didn’t get 98 or 99 out of a hundred, when I got less than that, I felt really shit about myself because my brittle self-esteem at the time was really based on me being perfect on me being academically perfect, but because, will layer in some early life trauma and some young person abuse trauma going on.
I couldn’t manage to pull myself out of that hole and learn how to fail and to learn from failure, and that failure is a part of success. Failing, learning, carrying on is what leads us to success. So what did I do? I did what a lot of people do and I dropped outta school. Because I just, I couldn’t cope with it.
So I was like, no, I’m out. I’m out. This is too hard. I’m gone. So if we consider imposter syndrome as a constellation of feelings, thoughts, beliefs, self concepts, and identify what they are, what are the feelings, what are the thoughts, what are the beliefs underneath this? Umbrella term, then we have the power to create change.
To create change in how we relate to our work, our business, our offerings. Lots of the women that come to me for coaching tell me that they have imposter syndrome and they see it as a, for them. In that moment, it’s a chunky as brick wall that’s in the way between them and their success between them and their feeling confident in their roles, and they’ve tried everything.
They’ve tried thinking their ways through it. They’ve tried pushing through it. They’ve tried behaving more masculine in their role. They’ve tried it all and nothing’s working. They’ve done all the courses and nothing’s working.
So let me tell you about the client that I had, and I think this illustrates what happens with imposter syndrome and how actually we can break through it as well, fairly rapidly and very successfully. And of course, I’ve changed them, identifying features to protect this person’s privacy. So had this wonderful client to me, she’d been in a management role and she’s really ready for her next step, right?
So she’d been in there maybe, around five years. And she’d been applying for new roles for around three years. And so she’d apply for a role. And the energy just wouldn’t move ahead. So she might make an application or she’d talk to her HR manager and just nothing was coming back.
And it wasn’t that she wasn’t active, so she wasn’t hiding and just wishing that a new role would come to her. She was actually seeking out these roles. She was putting forward her application. She was talking to her HR manager. But then what would happen is that the people would either just not get back to her, nothing would come back from it.
She was just stalled for around three years. And so when we first started working together, we identified what are the beliefs. What are the thoughts? What are the feelings? What’s the self-concept that’s underneath here? Let’s put words to it. Let’s get it out so that we can really identify it, because identification awareness is the first step, and once we’ve done that, we could clear up those beliefs, those limiting beliefs that weren’t serving her, that inherited self-concept that really wasn’t her that had come down through the generations. So she needed to be able to resolve those before she had the presence within herself to be that person in that new role.
And actually, once we cleared up those beliefs in those self concepts, of course what. I’m telling you, within a week she’d gotten the job interview. She went into the job interview, and of course she got the job because she was showing up as a different person. Her experience was the same. Her training was the same, her education was the same, but she was showing up with a level of self belief that she wasn’t able to access before.
It was always in her. We just opened the doorway for that to come flooding through and she relaxed into that self belief and she could show up with that self belief rather than being swamped by nerves and anxiety and pressure, going into the interview, she went into the interview with just the right amount of nerves and the right amount of confidence, and she showed up as that person that was a good fit for that role.
So of course she got the role, which is in and of itself just super exciting. I love seeing when we change what’s underneath the surface, right? So what’s at that subconscious level around beliefs and thoughts and feelings, and then the outside world changes so rapidly to meet that new concept of ourselves, that’s showing up now. It’s so great. Once she got that role, which was super exciting, there was just a little bit, more to clear up for her around her beliefs and her self-concept around actually feeling really competent to be a learner, to be in that learning space, in that new role. And once we did that, she was just away. She was flying, she was confident, she was excited, she was connecting with so many more people in the workplace.
So how can you unwind your experience of imposter syndrome. Well for starters, you can come and work with me. Of course. Look, I love supporting women to free themselves from this because I know it’s really, it’s an overarching experience of self and it’s made up of different beliefs and self concepts that really aren’t yours like I know, that they’re not the truth about you, and you know that they’re not the truth about you, that there is so much more to you than this. And so when we resolve that and we create those new neural pathways in the brain, then showing up with a really robust sense of self-confidence that is fluid and embodied is actually really easy to do.
So I’ve got the tools to help you get there. But when you’re looking at it yourself at home, if you’re not ready to step into one-on-one work, absolutely. There’s still a lot that we can do, right? So first of all, what you need to be doing is start by identifying that critical inner voice I know that we identified as imposter syndrome, and that’s that overarching level, think of that as that the umbrella. But then we need to come down a level and actually start to identify what is my mind actually telling me in this moment when I feel shit, when I go into that meeting, and I feel like I am, just dunno what to say. I’m not confident. What is my inner narration? What is that internal voice saying to me?
And when you can actually write it down, get it out of your head, and get it onto paper, what is your mind telling you? And once you’ve got it out on paper and you’ve identified it, then get rid of that paper. You don’t need to keep that anymore. It’s just to create some differentiation between our inner experience and understanding that it’s a thought.
There’s a thought or many thoughts showing up, and they’re taking the form of an inner critic, a critical voice inside our mind. So you wanna actually catch what it says. And so that can take a little bit of awareness to identify that. And then what you’re gonna do is you’re gonna challenge those automatic thoughts, look at those words on the paper, would you say that to your friend? If you have children, would you say that horrible thing to your kid? Most likely not, right? Definitely not. You would not be saying those things to your friend, to your child, to your loved one. I know that the way our brain talks to us can be really cruel. But the good news is that once we’ve identified it, then we challenge those automatic thoughts that inner critic, because the thing is that’s not you, that’s not the truth of you. That is not who you are, right? So we challenge that. That is not a fact about who you are, even if it feels like it in the moment? It does not mean that it is the truth of who you are. In fact, it is not the truth of who you are. And so once you’ve challenged the truthfulness of that, and you just really simply need that forthright attitude towards it, right?
So you bring that forthrightness towards, it’s like, no, do you know what? This is not the truth of who I am. Just make a decision around it. I’m not believing this anymore. That is the voice of my inner critic. And I understand human minds are complex. That shows up sometimes, but that does not mean that thought is the.
Because it’s not, and then what I want you to do is to introduce a more serving thought. A thought that is gonna serve you, a thought that is gonna support you. And that might be something like, it’s okay if I’m talking to myself, I’d say, it’s okay, Meegan, you’ve got this. You’re okay. So I’m talking to myself in a really kind, supportive, not collapsing, like I’m not saying, oh, you don’t need to go into that scary situation, that new situation.
It’s like, you know what? You can do this. Take a breath. It’s okay. You don’t have to be perfect. You’ve got this. Yeah. So then we introduce that more serving thought and you have it on repeat. So you find a thought, very short thought that serves you, and this you do write down and you keep, and then you have it on repeat because you wanna be able to pull it out of your bag and use it when you’re feeling the fear, when you’re feeling the self doubt.
So if it’s, I’ve got this, or you’ve got this, Meegan if you want to say it like that, insert your name, of course not mine. Then you’re gonna have that there and you’re gonna use that on repeat when you need it. Yeah. So you start to create a new dialogue within yourself. Look, I’ve seen women go through this and say they’ve had a difficult relationship with a manager, or a workmate and it’s been quite triggering for them. So they’ve felt like they haven’t had a voice, like they have like their brain exits the building. You know when somebody triggers you and you’re like, oh shit, I dunno what to say. We freeze. Our nervous system goes into fight and flight or freeze and we just dunno what to say.
Will we clear once we clear those self beliefs. And those concepts, all of that stuff, that’s not serving you anymore or the majority of it, you don’t actually need to clear it all out. It’s just the majority of it get rid of a lot of it. And then you go back into that meeting, and I’ve seen it for women and they’ve reported it to me.
They go back into that meeting. They haven’t had a sit down with the manager, with the other team member. They haven’t had a big blowout and then come to an agreement around it. They’ve basically changed their self-concept and their beliefs about themselves, and then they’ve gone back into that meeting and they are no longer triggered.
Because how they feel about themselves, how they think about themselves has fundamentally changed. So what’s coming from that person that used to trigger them, it just bounces off them. It no longer goes in and triggers shame or whatever the feeling is, imposter syndrome as an experience.
It just bounces off them. So that relational dynamic in the workplace completely changes when one person changes their core concept, their core self belief, then all of the dynamics change. It’s just amazing to see. Will we eventually not need to talk about our experience as being imposter syndrome as a collective?
You know, I’m hearing it from a lot of women. Will we get to a point where we no longer feel this? In our workplaces, in our business, I think we will. So the more of us that are doing that work around our self concept and our self belief as our self worth rises, and then that gets templated onto our children, the young people around us.
So generationally, Self-worth has the potential to increase when we do the work. When that happens, imposter syndrome is not gonna feel important to us. In another 20, 30 years, we would’ve moved into something else. This is our time now to do the work around imposter syndrome, to free ourselves from it, to break down that brick wall, to walk through into those spaces where we are learning, where it’s new, where we’re out of our comfort zone, where we are unsure, but to walk into those spaces.
Self-confidence, self assurance with a knowing that I have a capacity here where I am resilient, I can learn, I am growing and I’m gonna be okay. And so are you.
Hey, thanks for joining me on the podcast. If you liked what you heard, leave me a five star review. Tell your friends. Share the episode. It all helps to get this information into the hands of other people that can use it to really unwind people pleasing, imposter syndrome, self doubt, cause we can do without that anymore, right?
We need to step up, step in to being the leaders we were born to be. Have an amazing week, my friend.