Posted: Tue 17th Jan 2023
Let’s talk about impostor syndrome and work out how it affects our lives, ways to overcome it and how hypnotherapy and mind coaching can help us overcome it and move forward toward our goals with confidence.
Think of your greatest achievements. Do you feel proud of what you have accomplished? Or do you feel like a fraud?
Does each raise, promotion or compliment on your achievements bring you joy and happiness? Or is it accompanied by the fear that, one day, your cover will be blown, and everyone will find out that you just got lucky and that you will not be able to achieve anything that good again?
If you experience feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt, you may be surprised to learn that you are in great company. Impostor syndrome is typically associated with high achievers. So, if you feel like an impostor or a fraud, the chances are that you are more competent than you think. Real frauds do not worry about not being competent enough.
We often hear people around us talk about impostor syndrome and how they sometimes feel like an impostor or even a fraud. Studies estimate that between 70% and 80% of people experience impostor syndrome at one time or another. And for some people, it can be truly debilitating.
What exactly is impostor syndrome?
Impostor syndrome is not a mental illness in and of itself, and it cannot be attributed to a simple lack of self-confidence. It is more a false perception of reality that can deeply affect our wellbeing and the quality of life of those suffering from impostor syndrome.
Impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon and fraud syndrome) is the overwhelming feeling that you do not deserve your success and the good you receive in your life.
You become fully convinced that you are not as smart, intelligent, or talented as you may seem, and you put your achievements down to being lucky or just being "in the right place at the right time."
You might find that you often question your ability or ask yourself, "what gives me the right?" You may even feel that you do not belong at all, and your biggest fear is that one day you will be exposed as a fraud.
And despite your impressive achievements, your self-limiting beliefs prevent you from feeling successful and proud of yourself.
Before going any further on this topic, I would like to share a brief story about myself. Over the last couple of months, my own therapy, coaching and spiritual business has been growing, and one part of me has been feeling extremely happy to help some amazing clients.
But another part of me revealed itself and started creeping into my life, bringing doubts and fears that maybe all this will not last, that I have just been lucky and really, what gives me the right to be successful.
Does this sound familiar? Well, believe me, you are not alone. I have been feeling this impostor syndrome for the last couple of weeks and this gave me the idea to write about this topic.
Remember that this can happen to the best of us and that there are ways to help us overcome this, including hypnotherapy and mind coaching.
Impostor syndrome can be linked to other areas of self-doubt, such as fear of success, fear of failure, or self-sabotage. But it's not simply about poor self-confidence or excessive humility. It involves a constant fear of exposure and rejection.
Impostor syndrome often strikes at moments of success, at moments where things are going really well for you, like for example, starting a new job, receiving an award or promotion, starting a new project, starting your own business, getting married or becoming a first-time parent.
Feeling like an impostor will often push you to work even harder because of your perceived inadequacies, to avoid being "unmasked." This may even lead to bigger success and recognition – and make you feel like an even bigger fraud.
Often, however, your poor perception of your skills and abilities can result in "downshifting." This is when you decide to revise your goals and become less ambitious and according to you more realistic, thus preventing you from fulfilling your true potential.
Do I suffer from impostor syndrome?
Feeling inadequate, having self-doubt, and working hard
When you become successful you may find yourself thinking, "I am not worthy," "I do not deserve this”, or “why me?” and that will fuel a severe and constant lack of self-confidence. In order to relieve some of their feelings of being inadequate, people suffering from impostor syndrome work extremely hard to come up to the high standards they have set for themselves.
Being a perfectionist
Many people who experience impostor syndrome are perfectionists. This is when you set yourself unreasonably high or unrealistic goals, and then feel disappointment or discouragement when you fail at achieving those goals.
Perfectionism means that you can never feel happy with your achievements and tend to focus on mistakes and failures only.
People suffering from impostor syndrome are absolutely terrified of failure. At the same time, however, they're frightened by success as they feel unworthy of it.
This constant internal struggle leads to self-sabotage which in the end affects their chances for real achievements.
While quite a lot of people suffering from impostor syndrome are perfectionists, others go the opposite way and just refuse to take on new responsibilities, get a new job, or even accept new clients if they are in business, fearing that things will go wrong or that they will undoubtedly fail.
Convincing yourself you’re just a fraud
Impostor syndrome is often characterised by a constant fear of “being discovered”, and the more successful people suffering from it are, the more they worry about how much work and effort they will have to put in order to keep up the “appearances of being successful”.
Whatever they do, they convince themselves that they are just not good enough.
Compliments, promotions, awards or any type of recognition don't help people with impostor syndrome feel better, adequate or legitimate. Instead, this often makes them feel worse as they are convinced others just overestimate them and their abilities. Meanwhile, they underestimate themselves and don’t feel up to the task at hand.
When things work out, they tend to think it was due to pure luck and that they won’t be able to come up to other people’s expectations. Despite the recognition, they will keep feeling incompetent.
Refusing to accept and celebrate your successes
Although achievement leads most people to feel good about themselves, success deepens self-doubt in people suffering from impostor syndrome.
Each time they accomplish something new, their fear of being "found out" increases. They constantly worry they can't reproduce their success as they are convinced their success is temporary and due to sheer luck. They tend to consider their "easy," even when they have worked extremely hard to achieve their goals.
Ways to overcome impostor syndrome
Recognising that you have impostor syndrome is often the hardest part, but it's also the first step toward overcoming it.
Experiencing it does not have to be a life sentence. There are steps and ways to help you break the negative cycle of self-doubt, build yourself up and feel more worthy of your success.
Acknowledge your thoughts and feelings
The first step is to acknowledge what you are thinking and feeling.
Acknowledge your thoughts and put them in perspective. It is about learning to simply observe your thoughts as opposed to engaging them.
You can start a journal in which you log the times you experience feelings of self-doubt or inadequacy and be specific about why you are feeling that way. The more details you log, the better.
Putting your thoughts down on paper will help you reframe and challenge them and build a case against your inner critic. Remember that, while feelings are important, they are just feelings – and do not necessarily reflect reality. You can then come up with some positive statements or affirmations to counter the loop of negative thought patterns.
The only difference between people suffering from impostor syndrome and people who do not is how they respond to challenges. The process is to learn to think like non-impostors.
Talk to people you trust
Reach out and talk to people you trust. You will be surprised by how many of your friends, loved ones and colleagues can relate to how you feel. Listen to the people you respect in your life and let them show you how your fears are unfounded. Sharing what you are going through with others will remind you of the skills you have gained so far.
It can also be helpful to share what you are feeling with trusted mentors or professional therapists. People who have more experience can reassure you that what you are feeling is normal and knowing others have been in your position can make it seem less scary and easier to deal with.
Know who you are and have a clear understanding of your strengths and weaknesses
Once you have a deeper understanding of who you are and of your strengths and weaknesses, you won't have to spend so much time worrying that you are not competent enough for certain tasks, projects, or roles.
Having this knowledge will provide you with facts about your abilities and will help you challenge doubt when it arises.
Accept that being perfect is impossible
In order to have a healthy sense of self-esteem and self-worth, we need to accept both our strengths and weaknesses. Nobody is perfect, and mistakes are an inevitable part of life.
Learning to accept that things sometimes go wrong can increase resilience and mental wellbeing.
Learn how to set yourself realistic and achievable goals. At the same time, remember that mistakes are a part of life, and that, if you do not achieve a particular target on time, it is not the end of the world. Your mistakes are just part of the learning process, and they are proof that you are willing to take risks and try again in a different way.
Celebrate all your wins, even the small ones
Every time you achieve anything that matters to you, even if it seems quite insignificant in the greater scheme of things, remember to celebrate it. Always celebrate your successes, big or small.
Keep a track record of any wins or any positive feedback and praise that you receive, and look back at it the next time you hear that negative inner critic. This will help boost your confidence.
If your feelings of incompetence are seriously holding you back, seek professional help. A fully trained and accredited hypnotherapist can help you begin to see yourself in the same positive light in which others see you.
Now let’s see what hypnosis and mind coaching are and how they can be powerful modalities to help us overcome impostor syndrome.
What is hypnosis?
As an award-winning, fully qualified, and accredited hypnotherapist, I can say that hypnosis is a very powerful modality to help you overcome impostor syndrome.
Hypnosis is a safe and natural state of relaxation with an increased level of awareness during which you are not asleep and are fully in control. You will experience a pleasant state of mind with increased attention and focus. The hypnotic state is similar to some moments in your life when you are daydreaming or fully absorbed in a specific activity like reading, for example.
There is absolutely nothing to fear as therapeutic and clinical hypnosis is totally different from stage and entertainment hypnosis and as you remain in control, you will never be asked to do anything foolish or against your will.
For the hypnotherapy session to be successful, the hypnotherapist must have your consent, collaboration and full commitment as the purpose is to help you reach a feeling of being more in charge and in control of your life.
While in a relaxed state of mind, new information can make its way into the subconscious which transforms old beliefs and thought patterns. Hypnosis delves into your subconscious mind to plant positive thoughts and suggestions, which can create meaningful and lasting changes in your thought process.
Hypnosis replaces the old with the new. Changing your thinking will change your beliefs, fears, desires, habits, and anything that creates resistance when achieving new things.
It is not a passive process. You are actively participating by communicating your goals and what has previously held you back in the past. These goals are to be truly yours, no matter what you desire to obtain or achieve. If you are trying to satisfy social pressure, then hypnotherapy will not help you. The process is about you, your cooperation, your consent, and your participation.
More and more of us are beginning to understand how important the subconscious mind is in both helping and sabotaging our efforts to change and be happy. It is widely accepted that most of what we do and what we think is directed by the subconscious. In effect, we spend most of the day on autopilot, our past experiences shaping our responses, moment to moment.
When working with a qualified hypnotherapist, you will learn to reframe your thoughts and feelings around impostor syndrome, which is a self-fulfilling pattern of thought in which you consider yourself to be a fraud.
You doubt your own abilities and think that anyone who believes otherwise is only "being nice" or has somehow been fooled by you. Hypnosis will be used to replace these negative thoughts with more positive ones, boost your sense of worthiness and confidence and help you acknowledge and embrace your talents and abilities.
As a hypnotherapist I believe I work in a profession which is fantastically placed to help people align with what they really desire in life, appreciate themselves and see their true potential.
What is mind coaching?
I like very much The International Coach Federation's definition of coaching in general:
"Partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential".
Mind coaching is not me telling you what to do with your life or how to live it. Mind coaching is getting really honest with yourself and realising that there are areas in your life you want to improve to get the life you are longing for.
It can be described as a trance-free intervention and a process that encourages you to have a preference for action over thinking. It gives you the tools to step in, get out there and do the work needed to unlock your potential and get the life you want. It is a client-centred approach that requires you to take an active role in the programmes we build together to help you reach your goals.
As you work on your mindset with the help of mind coaching, believing in yourself and your abilities will become a new programme and a new way of living.
Now, all this shows you how powerful hypnotherapy and mind coaching are to delete all those used and outdated programmes and limiting beliefs and to replace them with more positive and beneficial ones to help you increase a general sense of wellbeing and to help you believe that you are truly capable and competent, that whatever you achieve is due to your own skills and that you have all it takes to create the life you desire and deserve.
For more support around impostor syndrome, hypnotherapy or mind coaching, connect with Nadija today!