Imposter Syndrome and Beyond: Topics that Span the Breadth of Everyday Life
The other day, I was interviewed by my friend and colleague, Asif Dhanani, host of the podcast “Invisible Illnesses,” on my take on imposter syndrome. We had a fantastic conversation around topics from how hard it is to see ourselves objectively, how to identify whether we’re experiencing imposter syndrome, and different approaches to managing it. (Note: you’ll hear a few wifi delays in this episode— I promise I wasn’t talking over Asif, which is a huge pet peeve of mine, it’s the recording delay!)
A few imposter syndrome-specific pieces I’d like to call out:
Minute 26:30 onward: personifying the voice of imposter syndrome
Minute 35:00 onward: recapping the steps of personifying our inner voice. I realize that I don’t lay them out in a clear “step 1, step 2” format in the conversation, so here’s that for those of you who prefer a guide:
- Identify the inner voice, the imposter, as a separate entity by giving it a name.
- Acknowledge its fears and concerns as valid. Remember, this voice is performing a job in an effort to keep you safe and alive.
- Offer an olive branch as a bargaining chip. Come up with some actions you commit to taking to mitigate the concerns.
- Reassure them by providing evidence that offers a more grounded and controlled perspective.
Minute 40:00 onward: a healthier, more growth-oriented approach to “fake it till you make it.”
Reflecting on this conversation after the fact, there are a lot of concepts and techniques that apply past managing imposter syndrome, and are relevant in empowering ourselves across many aspects of life.
No one is done growing.
This is a basic Truth. We are always growing, always absorbing stimuli, data, feedback from the world around us, and we are processing this information and incorporating it into the next version of ourselves. The thing is, it’s very easy to acknowledge this as Truth, and very easy to forget. Remember to be open to this growth, and to steer this fact in directions that will serve you and your goals.
We will never be able to see ourselves objectively because we are not designed to do so. We’re designed to identify all the threats that could ever potentially be, and to defend against them. So, our brain is wired to identify threats over, foe over friend, essentially, for survivability…if I believe I’m not qualified for my job, that’s a threat because that could challenge my ability to put food on the table, my ability to keep a roof over my head.
Keep an eye on how fear shows up for you. Our brains are working to keep us alive, and is always tempted to connect anything as a potential threat to our very existence, which can take form in the shape of fear, self-doubt, negative self-talk, and other emotions and behaviors that keep us from moving outside our comfort zones. Remember that a perceived threat is not necessarily an actual threat.
It’s just like reaching for a pair of glasses if you struggle with having clear eyesight, there’s nothing wrong with it, it’s just getting a clearer view and doing what you can to help yourself.
Committing to doing what you can, where you are, with what you have can be the most empowering promise you make to yourself. We will always be able to identify the reasons why we can’t move forward, it takes conscious effort and intention to access our inherent innovative imagination to finds ways we CAN move forward.
You don’t want to be in a war with yourself.
The only person who will remain with you your entire life is YOU. Find ways to play nice and build a collaborative relationship with yourself, instead of treating yourself as an enemy.
For other people it’s totally exhausting, because ultimately that energy is not a sustainable, building energy, it’s a destructive energy and it’s built to get you through the fight and nothing more. For folks looking [to get into] more of a long-term thriving place, then I definitely recommend this more collaborative partnership-building approach instead.
A highly competitive, make-it-happen approach to motivate yourself to perform at a higher level isn’t for everyone. Try evolving through challenge, instead of muscling your way through. We’re meant to thrive, not simply survive.