The Imposter… moving toward your ‘believed’ self

Posted Friday, September 12th, 2014. Filed Under Voices of wisdom

I am in transition in my life and so many things are coming to the forefront. I have not been in the workforce perse for the last 16 years however I have raised two boys, written a book, created three websites, workshops, and am speaking at two conferences this Fall/Winter.

An article in the October issue of Elle Canada really hit a nerve. And it talks about how many of us are mired in insecurity; we take a role on or become something and look at ourselves and say, “when are they going to figure out I am a fake.”

This holds true from the simple person to the most famous. Some of the celebrities we know share their ‘imposter feeling’.

Tina Fey says, “The beauty of the imposter syndrome is that you vaccilate between extreme egomania and a complete feeling of ‘I’m a fraud! Oh G-d, they’re onto me! I’m a fraud!’ So you just try to ride the egomania when it comes and enjoy it and then slide through the idea of fraud.”

Maya Angelou says before her death, “I have written 11 books, but each time, I think: ‘Uh-oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.'”

Emma Watson says, “It’s almost like the better I do, the more my feeling of inadequacy actually increases, becuase I’m just going ‘Any moment, someone’s going to find out I’m a total fraud and I don’t deserve any of what I’ve achieved.'”

Of course I look at these women as no different from you and I in fact it reinforces in my mind that as women from all socio-economic and cultural backgrounds we tend to do the same thing… question our ability and who we are.

I too have done the same. I know I am very intelligent and capable of great things… I’ve written a book that is making a difference, led workshops that the participants learned from and said thank you and still at times I look in the mirror and wonder am I an imposter.

According to authors, Katty Kay an Claire Shipman’s recent book, The Confidence Code, we are hardly alone. Women are currently, they argue, in the midst of an acute crisis in confidence. This is not true for all women, many, however.

This does not hold true for men as much. Of course men may doubt themselves however they don’t let their doubts stop them as much as women do. Women are more prone to bringing on the saboteurs of confidence: depression, perfectionism, rumination, inertia.

It may even come down to our biology. Men have more testosterone which is an important hormone. Study after study shows that it leads to a greater propensity for action and risk taking. It can also come down to our expectations of girls versus boys as they are growing up. (I do believe this is changing). In past, boys have been rewarded more for taking risks and making mistakes and this carries through their lives. Personally, I believe it comes down to the environment you were raised in and your role models.

Shipmen says it really comes down to confidence. Confidence can be more critical to professional success than competence. I have seen this. Do not confuse confidence and ego. Your ego can be your downfall! Confidence is not just about thinking “I am going to be President or Prime Minister. It’s about enjoying and harnessing a kind of wholeheartedness – an energy – and moving toward something without doubt. That’ just a great feeling.”

The treatment for poor self-confidence is to do more and think less! I can totally agree with that.

I have had to sit down and separate what I am going through and the choices I am making today to take care of my children are in no way a reflection of my ability and I am confident that this path will lead me to my desired future.

In the article at the end there is a question that states: What kind of “imposter” are you? and How can you work this to your advantage. Go through this and see where you fit. I know I am the perfectionist.

The Perfectionist
Flawed Attitude: If there’s a single typo, the whole report is a total disaster.
Fix: Be proud that you care deeply about your work, but let go of the idea of 100 percent perfection.

The Expert
Flawed attitude: If you were really smart, you would know the answer to that question.
Fix: Accept that you can’t know everything – you’re human, not wikipedia.

The Soloist
Flawed attitude: If you have to ask for help, you’ve let yourself down.
Fix: Build relationships by allowing people to help you, even a little bit.

The Natural Genius
Flawed attitude: If learning that new software doesn’t come effortlessly, like it should, you’re dumb.
Fix: Be grateful you can pick things up easily – but some things take practice.

Go through these and see in you can determine which one best describes you. I know I am definitely the perfectionist. I have learned to ask for help and receive.

Women, you have every reason to feel confident. As a thinker, and often what brings me down, I need to learn to think less and just do.

I want to wish everyone a fabulous weekend and just do it! (as Nike would say).

All my love,

Sandra

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