I just got the J&J vaccine this past week. I spent most of yesterday driving so my daughter could get vaccinated too. Neither one of us is a big fan of vaccines or traditional medicine in general, but it feels good to take a step toward returning to normalcy after a year of pandemic life, even with the angst surrounding vaccinations.
In this past week’s session of my Passion Quest coaching program, my cohort of eight accomplished and talented women had a conversation about Imposter Syndrome. It’s a topic that’s come up repeatedly lately, even in the new corporate coaching program that I embarked upon yesterday with another group of amazing women. As we get ready to return to a new normal, I’d like Imposter Syndrome to fade away into our old abnormal.
If you haven’t heard, Imposter Syndrome (I.S.) is a term used to describe feelings of self-doubt about competency, sometimes combined with a fear of being exposed as a fraud. It was first coined by the clinical psychologists Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes in 1978. People with I.S. may feel like their success is a result of luck or timing instead of talent, effort or qualifications.
The website impostorsyndrome.com says “Everyone loses when bright people play small.” I created my company, Mind-Blowing Happiness LLC, to inspire and empower people to live with passion and purpose to reach their fullest potential. The world loses when we don’t rise to our potential and share our talents. It’s remarkable that the best and brightest among us tend to be most prone to this affliction of self-doubt.
I.S. has more significance for women, and particularly women of color, who are already marginalized and regularly dealing with sexism and racism. We are often questioned more about our education, qualifications and access to affirmative action which may make us feel insecure about our abilities or worthiness to have a seat at the table. For young women, these feelings can be even more prominent. This fear of not being good enough can lead to shame and fear. It can also lead to mental health complications, like anxiety and depression.
I consider myself a solid Type B personality. When I was young my French-speaking mother often called me “blasé”. The way she said it made me feel like it was a bad characteristic. My favorite aunt later explained blasé was a good thing; it meant I wasn’t bothered by things. I’m not sure if blasé is good or bad, but I’m beginning to see how it plays out in my life. I don’t have the propensity toward people-pleasing or perfection that my Type A friends seem to have. While I.S., so far, has passed me by, it’s important for me to understand and support the transformation of my clients.
While I.S. is not recognized as a psychiatric diagnosis, it is a real phenomenon. If it resonates with you, here are some tips to help you kick it to the side and step into ALL of your magic:
- Awareness is key. Just by reading this blog, you’ve made a move in the right direction.
- Start talking. Humans need connection. While talking about insecurities and self-doubt is never easy, we, as humans, thrive on the support of community. Understanding you’re not alone and finding kindred spirits will put you on the path toward overcoming your own self-doubt. You might find this among friends, in a support network, or working with a therapist or life coach.
- Pull out your journal. Sitting with pen and paper at least once a week to write down your achievements, past successes and positive feedback from others will help you recognize and remember your accomplishments.
I love finding great quotes. They have a way of putting a world of wisdom into a single sentence. Here are two to think about:
“The problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubts,
while the stupid ones are full of confidence.”
– Charles Bukowski
“Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.”
– Charles Darwin
We’ve all heard that ignorance is bliss. When I was younger, I used to say I didn’t even know what I didn’t know. While I’m sure it’s still true, my world was smaller then and, in some ways, more insulated. I encourage you to reach for the stars and slay anything standing in your way, even if it is your own thoughts.
I wish you passion, purpose and the realization of your fullest potential.
P.S. The photo is a quote from Suzy Kassem. It was shared with me in my coaching training yesterday. Wow. If you are dealing with Imposter Syndrome and want a space to work through your emotions, I’m taking registrations for my next Passion Quest cohort, beginning August 18. Space is limited so secure your seat now with the link below.