I recently decided to start hosting masterclasses on different topics, and when sending out a poll, the most popular masterclass choice was the topic of “overcoming imposter syndrome”. From my own experience while working in corporate, I often felt like I had to work even harder to prove myself (just in case someone was to find out that I felt like a complete fraud most the time).
My feelings impacted my behaviour in quite an extreme way as I would even dread going on holidays, working late into the night before taking off, trying to make sure everything would be in perfect order. I even got myself into a flat tizz while struggling to get signal in the middle of the jungle, as someone was trying to get hold of me. My poor husband thought I had lost it! I would micro-manage my team, my friends and my family because I was trying to control everything around me to alleviate my inner feelings of being completely out of control.
This all played out unconsciously, of course, I just experienced the anxiety, stress and pressure on a conscious level while becoming angrier and more resentful towards everyone around me.
Let’s be real, it’s not just us that needs changing
After eventually burning out I went on a deep healing journey. Looking back now I am grateful for all of these experiences as they finally forced me to face myself. However, there are some things that I really wish I knew then that would have prevented me from getting to the point of burning out, as coming back from that is a longer process both physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.
Before we go into those things, we need to also acknowledge that many of the systems that women are working in, were not made with us in mind. There is a hierarchy which we cannot ignore, and this is partly why we are feeling like imposters. We do feel like we must show up as someone else to fit in and there is no doubt that this causes us to lose confidence in ourselves or to lose touch with ourselves. This has become even more apparent during the pandemic, where reports are showing that progress for women has gone backwards. More women are leaving the workforce than men due to women primarily taking on extra tasks due to being unequal caregivers at home.
I know that many of us are tired and that we don’t want to hear that we should change all the time, however from my experience, there are often much deeper triggers that are playing out that only we can heal. We can just blame the system and hope that it changes, or we can also look at how we are showing up in the system, unlearn, heal and develop unshakable self-belief. We need that belief that we can make a change to these systems. Often making the changes comes with believing in ourselves.
If I knew then what I know now
With that in mind, this is what I wish I knew then that I know now:
- Get to know yourself – I will say this every time as it is the first step, without it we often allow life to happen to us, we just become a cog in the machine. Before studying to become a coach and RTT Practitioner, I had no idea how my mind processed information, I didn’t know that what I believed about myself was so destructive that I subconsciously allowed myself to show up and be treated in certain ways. Even more destructive, I had been trying to be someone else for so long, that I forgot who I really was. I realised now that I felt like an imposter as I did not really know who I was and what I stood for. Starting to understand how I tick, what was important to me, and who I really was, under everything I thought I should be, has completely changed my life.
- Time does not heal all wounds – there are so many quotes and sayings that have been passed down the generations, and not all of them are true. Time does not heal every wound; a lot of people have unprocessed trauma from the past which does not just heal itself. Our subconscious can also suppress painful memories which it feels we are unable to handle, using a lot of energy to make sure we are protected. Often in our work situations, it is our inner child who was hurt, who is feeling unheard, unseen, misunderstood and not enough who wants to be healed.
- Not every thought is true – we all have a dramatic friend inside our mind, our inner critic, who is there trying to keep us in check. It can feel like it is constantly beating us up for not doing or being enough. This voice can often sound like someone we know and is usually just trying to keep us safe. What we believe about ourselves is partly the cause of these thoughts and they are not true, they are based on the meaning we gave events as children. The more we buy into these thoughts, the more we stop focusing on what is amazing about us and keep focusing on what we need to be better at. This can make us feel like we are always failing and that there is something wrong with us that needs to be fixed.
- The roles we play – as women, many of us have been conditioned to be the good girl, to not get angry, to be agreeable. We take on various roles in our family dynamic growing up, many women took on the role of carers to those around us. We often decide we must be a certain way to be included, loved, accepted or needed, and at a primitive level, in order to survive. We felt seen and validated when we are doing things for others that were appreciated, and terrible when they weren’t, which then plays out in our adult and work life. Saying no is then particularly hard, and boundaries are usually almost non-existent. Without looking at how this may still be playing out in our lives as adults, we tend to unconsciously continue these patterns.
- Unrealistic expectations – our expectations and the standards we place on ourselves are often way too high and unrealistic. Without stopping and really evaluating these expectations we can often feel like we are a fraud and feel like these expectations belong to everyone else. Yes, we do often have workplaces that have high expectations, however are our expectations of ourselves even higher than those, this is what we need to be checking. These expectations will make us compare ourselves to others, to compete and to ultimately feel like whatever we do, it is not enough. Becoming aware of these expectations and knowing what is truly important to you can help you ease up and let go of what doesn’t really matter.
If you would like to go deeper into this, and gain tools to help you overcome feeling like an imposter then join us on 26th August at 12pm – 1.30pm GMT for my masterclass on Overcoming Imposter Syndrome to Start Showing Up as Your Fuller Self. During our time together, you will start to understand why you may personally be feeling like an imposter. I will help you start becoming friends with your inner critic and let go of trying to prove yourself so you can confidently step into making the impact you know you are meant for.
You can find out more and book your spot by following this link.