If you question whether you are really that good or simply delusional, or consider at times that you are tricking people out of their money because they don’t really need you or that you’re not that good and not worth that much, you are holding yourself back.
And if you believe that there are way better experts out there and that you can’t really charge $$$ for what you do because you don’t have any expertise, you’re nothing special and everyone already knows how to do what you do, then you are only swindling yourself.
If you have ever caught yourself thinking, ‘any minute now they are going to find out I’m a fraud’, you suffer from something called Imposter Syndrome.
It’s not new.
Impostor syndrome was first coined in 1978 by psychologists Dr. Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes, who referred to high-achieving individuals with an inability to accept their accomplishments, because of a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud”.
The fact is, because impostor syndrome is common amongst high-achievers, it’s a good sign you are on the right track! You are actually achieving great things, you are pushing yourself to find your brilliance. And you are not alone.
If you feel like a fraud, you are amongst the stars. Actress and UN Ambassador Emma Watson recently told Vogue magazine she was “terrified’ of being found out”, Novelist Maya Angelou once said “Uh, Oh, they are going to find me out” and Kate Winslet, Tina Fey and Jodie Foster all confessed feelings of not being worthy, being ‘found out’ or having their achievements and awards taken off them because ‘they were a mistake’.
Women seem to suffer from it more than men, but they too have self doubt and feelings of unworthiness, it’s just less publicised because men are even more ashamed to talk about it!
I’ve seen self doubt painfully reveal it’s ugly self, right in front of my eyes during the personal brand program I deliver. I ask clients to identify their expertise, or as I put it, “the thing you do with ease that others find difficult, which is why it’s called ‘expert-ease.”
They squirm in their seats, go quiet on the phone, slowly start writing something down, but quickly draw a blank and come to a standstill, completely lost with what to say.
They have a barrier to their value, a blockage to their worth. They don’t believe they have any expertise. They really don’t consider they have anything of true value, assuming everyone knows what they know. They overlook so many natural skills and talents as not worthy of mentioning.
Yet when I push them to consider the years of experience, the area, field or topics they know about and the depth to their knowledge, they start to come alive and excitedly find their inch-wide, mile-deep niche. The smiles and joy generated from this exercise are so wonderful to experience!
Of course, not everyone gets there so quickly and I often refer them to get help from a mindset mentor, one of those I recommend is my own abundance coach, Marguerite Vorobioff.
She says that self doubt is brought on by 4 main factors:
- Not feeling you are good enough or have anything of value to offer
- Fear of rejection and what other people will think of you
- Fear of failure, not wanting to look like an idiot
- Comparing yourself to others
The opposite of self doubt is self confidence, so the solution is easy; simply go and get some confidence in yourself with some self development right?
Interestingly not. The billion dollar self development industry continues to thrive, with more and more ‘self help’ books, courses, programs and events constantly on offer, yet more and more people suffer from Imposter Syndrome.
The problem and solution may be simple to identify, but it seems, not so easy to fix.
Marguerita suggests long term change comes down to three factors:
Factor 1: Getting real
Realise that when you think you don’t know enough or don’t have enough experience or skills, these are just stories you are telling yourself. Let go of the lie that you’re not good enough.
Come to the realisation that failure is inevitable and that when it happens, you will be able to deal with it, the same way you’ve dealt with failure before.
Once you get through the realisation that you don’t lack skills, you just lack self confidence, you can look for actions and processes to build self esteem. EFT is also a great method you can use to let go of the subconscious programming and make a conscious shift in your self belief.
Marguerita explains why so many people know they have imposter syndrome but aren’t prepared to do anything about it, “Going inside is scary for people because they have a whole lot of stuff they haven’t dealt with and is painful. They have to be prepared to get real and deal with that in order to instigate change.”
Do you want to continue holding back your personal brand and business because of self doubt, or are you ready to get real and start breaking through your self created barriers?
Factor 2: Change your environment
Marguerita suggests you “surround yourself with the right people who accept you for who you are. They uplift and believe in you so you can ‘borrow’ their belief until you believe enough in yourself.”
You can also change your reading habits, from doom & gloom newspapers and trashy magazines where stars are constantly compared to each other and knocked down, to reading positively.
Choose topics that build you up; biographies of successful people and teachings of mindset coaches like Wayne Dyer etc.
Marguerita does warn though that self help books don’t always help a lot of people overcome imposter syndrome. She continues “for all the self-help books that are out there, there are still heaps of people who don’t have confidence in themselves.”
Research into the self help industry by Norah Dunbar and Gordon Abra (http://brainblogger.com/2014/05/23/the-self-help-industry-helps-itself-to-billions-of-dollars/) confirms this warning, finding that “it was very difficult to test the effectiveness of these books, mostly because the techniques in them were not always applied.”
But they found books like Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, which encourages “years of hard work and deliberate practice”, confirm that “everyone willing to put in the work be able more fully to realise his potential.”
Which leads us to the next step in overcoming Imposter Syndrome; doing something about it!
Factor 3: Action
Yep, I have bad news for you. There is no magic pill, potion or quick fix. Simply reading a book, going on a course or to a retreat will not cure you of feeling like a fraud. Well it will, but only if you put into action what you learn over time and work at it, long-term.
In Marguerita’s opinion, the reason why the self help industry isn’t changing things is because “reading a book, or going to a workshop is easy, but actually implementing what you’ve learned, to change your results is the key part that most people aren’t doing.”
Zig Ziglar famously said “People often say that motivation doesn’t last. Well, neither does bathing – that’s why we recommend it daily.” Self confidence is the same, because it’s a state of mind. Marguerita also confirms that “too often we looking outside of ourselves for the solution, where we should be looking inside instead.”
We know from Neuroscience that the human brain has a fear centre that is just trying to keep us safe and it likes what it knows, distrusting anything new (like EFT and mentoring) yet Marguerita asserts that “the bottom line is you have to be willing to do the work to get past the belief systems that are telling yourself, that you’re not good enough.”
Top Tip: Chunk your goals down into small achievable action steps, then acknowledging your achievements along the way, helps to build confidence. It tells the brain that you are achieving things and builds self-belief.
Primarily, Marguerita, who has coached hundreds of entrepreneurs and leaders all over the globe, says you need to make yourself accountable by finding a mindset mentor or joining a mastermind group and implementing what your are told to do.
She cautions that “sometimes mentors get it wrong too” and that “blindly following someones advice without checking if it resonates with you or if it’s relevant to your state of mind, can be counterproductive. After all, no matter how good your mentor is, we’re all still working through our own filters and perceptions.”
Most importantly you should stop worrying. Feeling self doubt is natural, there is nothing wrong with you! Recognise you have pushed yourself out of your comfort zone in order to feel this way and that’s a good thing.
Because growing as a human being, building a strong personal brand and reaching your full potential only happens outside of your comfort zone.