I’ve always suffered from lack of confidence in myself — literally as far back as I remember. I read a report card years ago from when I was seven years old and it said that I was ‘highly anxious’ when it came to testing and the teacher couldn’t work out why.
As I grew older, I did well in school, in college, in Uni. I went into the workplace and kept getting promoted…I couldn’t work it out. I would get promoted then go home and cry! I would ask myself constantly, “When will the Talent Police come get me? When will they realise, I haven’t a clue what I’m doing?” — I bought my first house when I was twenty three and cried for a week thinking I would probably lose it when I got sacked because they realised I was rubbish. But they kept telling me I was great…it didn’t make sense to me!
The verdict — impostor syndrome
I wasn’t aware that this was the name for it until many years later when I was in a Top 20 Leaders programme with my company. The psychologist assessing me, explained to me what this thing was that I always had going round in my head, this Crazy Lady as I had named her — impostor syndrome.
This is a psychological condition where people who are often high achievers, doubt their abilities and are filled with feelings of self-doubt, insecurity and feeling like a fraud.
Light bulb moment
“But why am I like that?” I asked. I had really supportive parents growing up, I considered myself to be an emotionally aware person — I was gobsmacked that this voice in my head had a name and I wasn’t the only one dealing with it!
What she told me then has always stayed with me — that it doesn’t really matter why I’m that way. I could spend the rest of my life asking myself that question or I could just decide to have a strategy to deal with that voice in my head, to minimise the airtime it got moving forward and make sure it never stopped me achieving what I wanted to achieve.
Honestly, combined with the relief of just knowing that it was a genuine thing and not just me going mad, was like a gigantic weight had been lifted off my shoulders.
You have to do the work
The fact is, it is an ongoing piece of work! I have been actively working on it for over ten years now and it is still something I’m conscious of daily but I know what it is now and I just accept it as a part of me. I observe the voice in my head, smile and move on.
I am a huge believer in the power of positive affirmations too, as they have helped me to overcome my way through many of life’s little tests and I truly believe have helped me develop into a much stronger, more mentally confident person. These, along with some other strategies I’ve employed, have made a huge difference.
Paying it forward
I now, along with Cheryl Lee, my co-dounder of Now Is Your Time and Soul Sister, coach other people just like me, to help them with their mindset. Impostor syndrome comes up a lot as part of my work as a Coach and it’s great that I can connect so deeply with how much of an impact it can have to someone’s entire life.
So if you’re sat reading this and you know that you have that Crazy Lady in your head too — you’re not a fraud, you just have impostor syndrome!
Tell me — how do you deal with your critical inner voice? And if you’re struggling to deal with it and want some help, reach out and get some support with it from either a friend or a professional service like ours. It could be preventing you from reaching your potential too.
I promise you, you are not alone and there is another way!