Say Goodbye to Imposter Syndrome and Hello to Life
Ditch Your Imposter and Level Up
Do you ever feel reluctant to accept a new assignment because you have more to learn on the subject first?
Have you ever looked at a job application and saw ONE thing you aren't qualified for instead of focusing on the 15+ qualities you do have?
What about not speaking up in a room full of people because you weren’t sure you had all the information? Then have someone ask (with praise) the exact thing you wanted to say.
My guess is you have turned down well deserved praise and recognition because it made you uncomfortable. At the same time, I am willing to bet you have held onto an untrue insult for years (maybe decades) because some imposter in your head decided it was true.
I can relate.
We’ve all done these things. At some point in all our lives we have all been sucked into a case of Imposter Syndrome.
But here’s a secret...
The single biggest thing holding you back from your success is your belief that this imposter is the truth.
I say it’s time to switch up your thinking. Turn that imposter into a friend.
Your Imposter is your Guide
One of the reasons I was so attracted to becoming a Tiny Habits Certified Coach was because of BJ Fogg himself. Dr. BJ Fogg is the author of the New York Times bestselling book, Tiny Habits, and the creator of the Tiny Habits® Method. By his own characterization, he’s a Mr. Rogers type, naturally friendly and warm. He’s also incredibly intelligent, generous, has a focus on service to others and delivers great value. In an era of social media illusions where people look one way online and are actually another, BJ is authentic and real. In short, all things I value in a mentor and a role model.
When an opportunity came up to be part of a self-organized group that untangled procrastination using his behavior model, I jumped at it. For six months, we worked and finally we were ready to present to BJ. We were all excited.
While I appear to be a natural leader (and in many ways I am) somehow I continue to feel like the imposter in the room.
As smart as I am, I am sure everyone knows more than me. That at any moment one of them is going to call me out.
This was me at every business meeting I ever attended. I felt like an outsider and an oddball. Like they were the cool kids at the lunch table. I was always a bit too loud, used too many hand gestures and facial expressions when I talked...I felt “too much” next to everyone who seemed so placid, focused and professional.
I’m older now though and worrying if they’re going to like me is child's play.
Wrong! Last week I found myself feeling dangerously vulnerable in that meeting with BJ. My fear of rejection so intertwined with long-held shame about being seen.
BJ has praise for our work, asks thoughtful questions, and is encouraging. The group discussion is stimulating and fun.There’s a lot of back and forth and questions on how to continue to improve and add value. I was throwing out ideas and suggestions and the conversation from all outside sources was running smoothly.
Yet internally every time I opened my mouth I was analyzing and evaluating what I was saying. I felt like I was coming across like a needy puppy. Every time BJ resonated with someone else in the group besides me I found myself having thoughts of rejection, and shame for saying something stupid.
I got off that Zoom with the biggest vulnerability hangover. What was wrong with me? Why was I caught in this tangled web? Nothing that happened in the actual meeting should have caused what I was feeling inside.
So why am I feeling this way?
When you want someone to like you, whether it be romantically, socially, or intellectually, you are setting yourself up for shame and rejection.
And that imposter that has you needing the approval from others is not going to go away.
However, your relationship with it can change.
You see in order to grow we must first recognize those imposters. Then you must decide that your life is too important to turn away from them.
You must face the bully in your head if you want to level up.
That is exactly the opportunity your imposter is presenting to you: an opportunity to level up.
You see the reason I was so hung-over from my imposter is that I really want BJ to respect me. Part of me had unconsciously decided to focus on whether or not I had his respect instead of the important work my group and I had done and how it could serve the world. I am proud of the work we did, but I gave my power away and forgot
it's not about anyone else liking, respecting or approving of me. It's about me doing that for myself.
The real imposter here was that I had leveled up. I am seeing my teachers not only as mentors, but as peers and collaborators and this scares me. This makes me feel so vulnerable that curling up inside my comfortable blanket of mediocrity sounds like heaven.
The reality is that when you ask for growth you will get growth. Then you must continue to throw off those old comfortable blankets and be exposed to new challenges.
Your imposter will have you wanting to crawl out of an opportunity that you have been dreaming about having.
The next time you feel like shrinking back into your comfortable experience because your old imposter frenemy is lying to you, smile and do it anyway. (And if that doesn’t work, let me know, I have more than a few practices to share.)
I’m OK now. But it took me three looooooooong friend phone calls, a drive, a fair amount of wanting to jump out of my skin and using all the tools I’ve learned over the years to get me through that vulnerability hangover. (Even as I write this I have the residue of it lingering.) But I made it through and learned something new, the imposter’s gift.
Your imposter is a gift, too, because it lets you know where you need to work. It helps you ask hard questions about yourself. Questions that guide you towards growth. And, more importantly, every time you move beyond the illusion of the imposter, you gift yourself direct experience of just how powerful you are. No one, not even the imposter, can take that away from you.
It’s time to quit playing it safe in your own life. It’s time to take the risk and feel your discomfort. I promise you will survive.
But, your ideas will die inside you if you don’t share them with the world. Your own personal imposter is limiting your creativity, your productivity, and keeping you trapped in fear.
Let me know what areas you are looking to move beyond in your personal journey. Once you begin the journey of viewing your imposter as a life coach you will see how sharing your ideas is how you grow. You are already successful, so it’s time to make that impact you’ve been aiming for. Level up into the life you’ve been dreaming about.