Imposter Syndrome - how can we overcome and regain control of our potential (Part 2)
In our first article, we took the time to explore just what imposter syndrome is. We considered the effect that it has on self-belief and self-worth and took a look at the impact that it can have on people’s lives. While that take on impostorism may have been a little on the gloomy side, what’s to come here is very different.
Now we know just what the imposter phenomenon is all about, we’re going to take a look at how people can take control. While the impact of imposter syndrome is very real, the good news is that it’s within everyone's reach to take the power back and start living to our full potential.
How imposter syndrome can get in the way of us achieving our full potential
When someone doubts their skills, talents, or accomplishments and has a persistent internalised fear of being exposed as a fraud, it’s more than understandable that they won’t be operating at their best. The lack of self-belief means that a person is always questioning themselves and they are terrified that they will be seen for what they truly believe they are - a fake.
This constant fear can soon manifest itself as anxiety and even depression. As someone continues to undermine themselves, their own experiences and their own expertise, they develop a sense of worthlessness. That’s why self-sabotage creeps in: the subconscious will always serve you well and do all that it can to prove you right.
The different types of imposter syndrome
Impostorism presents in a variety of ways. Ultimately, they all lead to the same outcome: someone who is missing out on their full potential. It was Dr Valerie Young who created the categories of imposter syndrome that are recognised today. Let’s take a look at what these are:
There are those experiencing the imposter phenomenon who are described as the Perfectionist. These are people who set themselves goals and targets way above anyone else’s. Of course, the outcome is that these goals and targets are missed and so the fear of failure becomes a reality through a self-fulfilled prophecy.
Aside from the targets that the Perfectionist sets for themselves, they are also often seen as control freaks. They refuse to believe that anyone can deliver to the standard that they require and so become determined to do everything themselves. This, of course, often sets them up for further failure. Even if success comes, it is rarely recognised as the ultimate feeling is that still, somehow, despite meeting the highest of targets, they could have done better.
These people can perhaps best be described as workaholics. Any self-worth that they feel comes through the process of working. These people push themselves harder and harder in the workplace through sheer desperation to be accepted and seen as worthy of their role. Time away from work appears wasteful to these people as they just want to get their heads down and get back to work.
You’ll recognise these people as they are the ones who are always working the longest hours. They’ll be the first to arrive and the last to leave. They’ll have to let go of any hobbies or personal interests as they’re seen as mere distractions that get in the way of work.
The Natural Genius
For those who experience this form of imposter syndrome, it’s not just about getting things done to an exceptionally high level. It’s also about achieving this with ease. There is a need to complete tasks to the highest of standards but to do so quickly and to get everything right first time. If the Natural Genius feels that it’s taking time to master a skill, then they are filled with shame and lose any sense of self-belief.
These people are often referred to as ‘the smart child’ as they’re growing up. They have a strong dislike for being guided or mentored as they believe that they can only achieve the very best when they’re operating alone.
There are those who go through imposter syndrome classed as a Soloist. These people, as the name suggests, are intent on going it alone. They refuse to seek help or guidance as this undermines their self-worth as they believe that it will expose them as a fraud.
This utter refusal to seek help can lead to things going wrong and yet again the realms of the self-fulling prophecy are entered as the person has made success all but impossible.
Any feeling of self-worth for the Expert comes on the back of ‘what’ and ‘how much’ they know or that they can do. The fear here is that they will never know enough and will never develop capabilities to a sufficient level. This means that there is a constant fear of being exposed as a fraud. They believe that they will come across as someone who lacks both knowledge and experience.
How can we overcome imposter syndrome?
When it comes to overcoming imposter syndrome it’s all about our thoughts and how we talk to ourselves. Everyone experiencing the imposter phenomenon has something in common: they are fueled by negative self-talk. They fill their minds with constant negative messages. They convince themselves that failure is just around the corner and the dutiful subconscious mind ensures that the person is proven right.
A lesson in positive self-talk can be seen by looking at Henry Ford. Many will recognise Ford as the man behind the car brand, but not everyone is aware of the journey he took to achieve success. With numerous setbacks, and even bankruptcy, Ford could’ve just walked away but he persevered and we now all know the outcome.
It was Ford who said, “If you think that you can, or you can’t, you’re probably right”. This highlights the power of the human mind and how it so desperately tries to prove us right. The takeaway here is to fill your mind with positivity. Work on your emotional resilience. Surround yourself with people who want you to succeed. Learn to own your accomplishments. Learn to praise yourself. Learn to turn off the negative self-talk.