Imposter Syndrome 2021

I published Meaningful Moments on Imposter Syndrome in 2018. This probably gained the most interest of any articles I have written. The following article by Adele Hawkins is a lot more sophisticated than mine and is particularly useful if you are one of the 70% who have suffered from Imposter Syndrome.

I was interviewed by Adele as part of her research into Imposter Syndrome and Positive psychology early in 2020 and she eventually gained a distinction for her work. This is my distilled version of her findings.

“It is estimated that Imposter Syndrome (IS), the internal experience of believing yourself to be less competent than others perceive you to be and therefore feeling like a fraud, affects 70% of the normal population at least once in their life. Persistently feeling this way can deplete psychological and subjective well-being resources such as self-esteem, self-efficacy and emotional energy as well as slow career advancement by limiting professional contributions. Facing an on-going internal battle, imposters are unable to fully “enjoy their success….…internalize their strengths, accept their deficits, and function with joy””  [This happened to me after my employer went bust and I struggled to fit into other employers’ cultures plus feeling inadequate, owing to feeling I could have done more at my previous employer to stop the inevitable happening]

“Emotionally, the imposter cycle exerts a negative effect on psychological and subjective wellbeing, with self-perceptions becoming critical and erroneous Sufferers report higher levels of psychological distress such as anxiety, low self-esteem and reduced self-efficacy. In other words, those with IS are blocked from experiencing the full range of positive emotions that both signal and produce individual development, that are the catalyst for psychological growth and that can improve well-being over time” [For me it impacted on my concentration and a feeling of what am I doing here?]

“Coaches reported that clients with imposter feelings carry around the “same old story” of incompetence and self-limiting beliefs about themselves. These are rooted in fear and self-doubt, despite what others might consider objective evidence to the contrary, such as outward confidence or professional success.” [IS impacted me for about a year as I struggled to find myself in a different environment]

“The ultimate aim of the coaching process, therefore, is to take coachees on a self-discovery journey of their authentic selves, reframing internal strengths and external events, instilling a new story of courage and self-belief, and eventually equipping them with the momentum to move forward and redraft their future narrative.” [I didn’t know anything about coaching then!]

“Developing the capacity for self-awareness of emotions, values, strengths, motivations and cognitions surfaced as a defining characteristic of the coaching process for those with imposter feelings. Coaches were clear that conscious and accurate self-assessment was the starting point forchanging coachees’ responses to situations and building self-confidence.” [Feedback of my strengths from other people I worked with, helped me the most when I was made redundant for the second time.]

“As a result, helping clients tune into their critical inner narrative and understand the power of the type of language they habitually use is paramount for progress, enabling the articulation of “a coherent story” that does not discount strengths, abilities or past evidence of successes.”

“Furthermore, feeling able to talk back to inner critics and question the validity of what it is saying emerged as central to state change.”  [I am one of the 70%, but only for a very short period of time in my working career, some people suffer from this regularly]

“This research suggests that, within the coaching space, the task is to bring back together disparate elements of behaviour, thoughts, emotions and physical bodily responses, and align them anew with values, purpose, strengths and simply what brings joy.”

“Inspiring clients’ healthy critical self-reflection helped them logically question unconstructive beliefs, reframe events and thus stimulate new options for moving confidently into the future. One coach summarised the way she works as “rooting out the ways of thinking that are not helping, that are not serving people. And then installing the ways of thinking that do help them.”

“However, it was the quest for authenticity, with its links to optimal self-esteem and congruence between feeling, thinking and behaviour, that was alluded to in every single interview. The greatest difference to changing imposter feelings is realising authentically, what your values and your power is, and also to come from that place.”

“An important part of self-actualisation and subjective well-being is emotional intelligence, the capacity to accept one’s self and put things into realistic perspective. Developing this was referenced by participants as a way of reducing IS by boosting positivity and increasing the emotional energy to get things done.”

As you can tell from the above paragraphs, these words are not my own as research and writing reports would never be my key strength, at the same time, however, as with all of my coaching I have experienced these feelings and many of my coachees have suffered from Imposter Syndrome.

If you, or  somebody you know, lets Imposter Syndrome get in the way of their success, please get in touch with me or visit my website

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