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What to do When You Feel Like a Fraud

My name is Carolyne and I'm an imposter...


Imposter syndrome is something that many of us experience from time to time, but few people realise when it is happening to them. It often gets passed off as anxiety and to be fair it sits under that umbrella but knowing more about it can help you to overcome it.

What it Imposter Syndrome?

Imposter syndrome occurs when we feel like a fraud — when we feel that our success is undeserved. We convince ourselves that our results are based on luck, timing, or other factors outside of our control, instead of actually embracing the fact that we create our own success. Imposter syndrome often affects high achievers and can make us think irrationally about our achievements and potential.

Some of the typical signs of Imposter Syndrome, also known as Fraud Syndrome are:

  • The internal voice of negativity
  • Doubting yourself and questioning your abilities
  • Feeling like a fake or phoney and fearing someone will notice
  • Overcompensating at work or home by taking on too much
  • Self-blaming for every mistake
  • Talking yourself out of a promotion or career change

Ok, so basically you feel like a fake, but why is this happening to you?

I often meet clients who are totally floored by feelings of inadequacy. They consider themselves confident and resilient yet they question their strengths and abilities and often get stuck in not feeling good enough.

There are lots of theories out there, and even if you didn’t know that Imposter Syndrome was a thing you might be nodding along to this blog, reading about your own life. So, here is one reason why so many of us experience it:

Society has created a pressure cooker for success. We are constantly bombarded by images of what success apparently looks like and boy is that a hard ideal to live up to. However, we still feel compelled to try (because of goals, right) but then struggle with self-belief and acceptance that we actually can. Maybe your life doesn’t match the pictures in magazines or posts on social media, but guess what? Those images are carefully curated and not a true representation of what real success looks like (shocking, I know).

It may not surprise you to know that women suffer more than men, but men do suffer, don’t sideline them on this one. And, these images and stories affect our mental health and cause us to place unrealistic expectations on ourselves. This leads to comparison (The thief of joy) and it’s freaking exhausting. The common misbelief is that our success correlates to our luck, not our mindset, abilities and actions. When I work with coaching clients I always start with the mindset and help them unpack the beliefs they hold about their current or future success.

How to manage the imposter

So, what the funk do we do? Imposter syndrome can raise its ugly head at any time but the good news is that you can train yourself to quickly identify it, manage it, and rise above it. 

Check out my 6 top tips below (you’re welcome).

1. Raise your awareness

Firstly, you have already started to manage the problem by identifying what is happening. Being aware of our thoughts and inner dialogue and reacting quickly to negative chatter is a big step and will help you take back control.

2. Reframe your self-talk

Notice when the unhelpful voice in your head come out to play and instead of fuelling it, challenge it and replace the I’m narrative with a more positive one. These voices often show up when you take on more responsibility, challenge or risk— the aim is to keep you in your comfort zone.

3. Revisit your achievements

Don’t shy away from or dismiss compliments by associating your success to external factors. When you feel undeserving, go back and review your previous achievements or the feedback from people you respect.

4. Recognise that we are all a work-in-progress

Have the courage to be imperfect. Take small risks to rebuild your confidence muscle. Our impatience can seriously deplete our ability to recognise that we are all a work-in-progress, learning and growing all the time. See if you can get comfortable with being uncomfortable.

5. Reach out to someone you trust

Imposter syndrome will not thrive in a supportive arena. Talk to someone you trust and tell them what you’re experiencing. Find evidence that you not only deserve your success but you created it. What advice would you give a good friend with the same challenge? How would you raise them up?

6. Remember, you are in good company

Millions of people including celebrities, leaders and athletes have been plagued by self-doubt and feelings of unworthiness. It’s not uncommon and can be overcome.

So, take a deep breath and keep going. You got this. You are capable AF. I promise.

If you would like help to overcome imposter syndrome DM me or book a free 30-minute coaching discovery www.evolvely.co.uk

I’d love to know if you’ve experienced imposter syndrome and how you dealt with it. Share your tips or comments below.

Originally published at medium.com

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