“Who am I to do this?”
“I’m a fraud.”
Ever heard these types of thoughts in your mind? I know I have – and so have most women I talk to. It is so widespread, it actually has a name: imposter syndrome or the imposter phenomenon. Suzanne Imes, PhD, and Pauline Rose Clance, PhD, both psychologists, coined this term in the 1970s to describe when someone isn’t able to acknowledge their own success or accomplishments, thinking of them as a fluke, and that they will eventually be exposed as a fraud.
Want to know what is really crazy? The imposter syndrome is very common in exceptional and high achieving women – the types you would look at and definitely think they were at the top of their game and had it all together.
I also find it in almost every single one of my clients in one flavor or another. Sometimes it is that they are struggling to charge money for what they offer, sometimes they don’t believe they are a “real” business owner because they are working from home with kids nearby, and sometimes because they don’t have traditional training or education in what they offer, although they have years of experience with it.
I have struggled too – wondering why someone would want to hire me when I don’t yet have a million dollar (or even six figure) business. Some of my clients do have businesses that are larger than mine – will they think I am a fraud because I don’t yet?
Here’s what I’ve learned. Imposter syndrome can defeat us, by causing our mind to look for reasons why we are not good enough, don’t know enough, and haven’t accomplished enough to chase after our goals. It becomes an actual self-fulfilling prophecy in our own minds when we are not feeling good enough, and end up not being good.
If we challenge it, and focus our minds on coming up with reasons why we are actually perfect for what we are doing and why we must bring our unique message to the world, we can feel incredibly empowered instead of defeated, and actually rise to the challenge.
Here’s what to do next. When you are finding yourself struggling with these thoughts, recognize how they are making you feel, and what action that feeling leads to. Hint: it is usually going to be either nothing, or a watered down version of what you really wanted to do. Looking at that, do a little brainstorming about what thoughts you might like to think instead. “I have a powerful message to share with the world,” “The world needs what I am offering,” “I will figure this out,” or whatever you can dream up are all going to create feelings of motivation and determination to get you moving and taking the kinds of big actions that allow you to really shine and make a difference.
Don’t let imposter thoughts control how you feel and act. You can notice those thoughts and tell them, “thanks but no thanks,” and move along to thoughts that will serve you best.