Imposter syndrome. A state of permanently feeling that you are not as good as people think, that deep down you are faking it. That it is only a matter of time before your cover gets blown. I have worked with so many high flying clients – managing entire departments of hundreds of people, for example (and very competently too) – who still believe that they are just not up to it, they’re just winging it. And are constantly afraid they’ll get found out.
It’s perhaps worth saying that some people will find mindset strategies all that they need to overcome these sort of doubts in those moments. A bit of a pep talk with yourself, pointing out the evidence that you are doing a good job, giving yourself encouragement when you’ve done something well. This sort of ‘Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway’ approach can pay dividends at times of uncertainty and challenge.
But there is also a large group of people whose imposter syndrome is rooted in long-term emotional programming, hard-wired enough that it can overwhelm the coping brain when under pressure or external scrutiny. Cue brain fog, going blank, heightened anxiety, or even feeling too paralysed to act.
For these people, a deeply felt sense of shame or of being irredeemably flawed often underpins their whole existence, meaning that they can be terrified of other people noticing that they are not ‘perfect’. Because when people see this, the fear is they will be able to see the deep down flaw in your being, and will reject you.
In these cases, positive affirmations will only scratch the surface. I’d recommend finding a decent coach or therapist with a good understanding of the deeper roots of imposter syndrome. Because unless these roots are understood and addressed, nothing fundamental will change.
I have worked with high performers over the last three decades who, despite the evidence, do not feel high performing on the inside. I might have an idea or two to help you. Let’s talk.