Turn the tables on negative thinking and manage imposter syndrome by following these five tips.
As Alexa Terry explains in part two of our imposter syndrome series, instead of trying to suppress feelings of self-doubt, it’s better to acknowledge your thoughts and use tried and tested techniques to manage them.
But before we get started…
For a quick refresher on the signs and symptoms of imposter syndrome, read Part One of our BAST special here.
Discover five ways to manage imposter syndrome
“As a result of a combination of such therapeutic interventions in conjunction with a commitment to change, a high achieving woman who has previously considered herself an imposter begins to allow herself to state and feel, ‘I am intelligent. I have learned and achieved a tremendous amount. It is all right for me to believe in my own intellectual abilities and strengths.’ She begins to be free of the burden of believing she is a phoney and can more fully participate in the joys, zest, and power of her accomplishments.” (Clance & Imes; 1978)
1. Acceptance and acknowledgement
Expecting to feel confident, happy and fulfilled all the time is unrealistic; I’m sure even unicorns have ‘off’ days where they feel like fraudulent horses.
Accept that such feelings will surface from time to time and acknowledge their presence. About 70% of people experience imposter syndrome, so chat to others. Someone in your support network will most likely relate to what you’re going through.
It’s also helpful to acknowledge when you’re likely to be more vulnerable to imposter feelings, perhaps in certain social settings, in times of stress or at a particular time of the month (I’m looking at you, my fellow menstruating mortals!).
2. Have a plan of action
In his popular mind management book The Chimp Paradox, Professor Steve Peters explains that we all have an inner ‘Chimp’, which is the emotional centre of our mind.
But far from being cute and cuddly, the Chimp often declares war on the logical brain (or what Peters refers to as ‘the Human’). When this occurs, a battle between ‘heart and head’ takes place.
“A chimpanzee is five times as strong as a human being,” Peters says. “Similarly, your emotional Chimp is five times stronger than you are. Don’t try to control it; manage it. You need a management plan!”
It’s not wise to suppress the primal wailings of an emotional chimp, dwelling isn’t particularly proactive, and Peters states that willpower is rarely successful. Instead, have a reliable plan of action:
- Acknowledge your feelings.
- Reason with negative feelings by using facts.
- Distract or reward your problematic primate depending on the situation.
- Manage the scenario in a logical manner.
(Keep an eye out for our review of The Chimp Paradox coming soon!)
3. Reframing beliefs
The act of ‘reframing’ involves challenging our limiting beliefs and moving away from inhibitive behaviours and emotionally charged thinking towards something more truthful and realistic.
Imposter syndrome expert Valerie Young said in her 2017 TED talk: “Do you want to stop feeling like an imposter? Then you have to stop thinking like an imposter.
“You don’t have to feel confident to act confident. And, over time, you really will begin to believe the new thoughts. And when you do, you can stop trying to overcome imposter syndrome, and instead use reframing to talk yourself down faster. That way, instead of having an imposter life, you can have an imposter moment.”
Imposter syndrome really boils down to limiting beliefs. Therapies such as Rapid Transformation Therapy (RTT), Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) and Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) can help to reframe those beliefs and change habitual thinking, allowing us to thrive without such debilitating interference from those mind monkeys.
5. Encourage others
Our ability to feel worthy and successful doesn’t depend on the failure of others. Celebrating the attributes and achievements of those around us may help to remove some emotional ‘comparisonitis’ too.
American businessman Phil McKinney says: “If you see somebody with skills, abilities and capabilities that impress you, don’t just think it – tell them. The simple act of verbalising that to them changes their perspective. They begin to see themselves as the world sees them, not as that imposter syndrome film that’s going around in their head.”
Speaking on The Working Singer podcast, leading voice educator John Henny says: “You need to embrace who you are, how you teach, and there’s somebody out there that really needs you, and to not shy away from letting people know that you’re out there and that you can help them.
“I help people who can sing better than me all the time. I help people who have more performance experience than myself.
“They’re going to come to you for a specific reason, and you may hold the key, even though you haven’t achieved certain things that you feel that you need to achieve or that someone else has told you that you need to achieve.”
Share your thoughts and experiences on imposter syndrome on the BAST Trainers Facebook group.
The Impostor Phenomenon in High Achieving Women: Dynamics and Therapeutic Intervention by Dr Pauline R. Clance and Dr Suzanne A. Imes; 1978.
Website: Dr Pauline R Clance
The Chimp Paradox by Professor Steve Peters.
Ted Talk by Valerie Young; 2017.