Do You Have Imposter Syndrome?

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Maybe I do…just a little bit.

About a year ago when I embarked on creating, our small team established that our mission is “…to help people live healthier, happier lives full of joy and compassion through gratitude and mindfulness”. 

My spiritual journey practicing gratitude and focusing on living in the present moment began almost a decade ago. When MGL took off a little over a year ago, it started with blog posts then quotes by inspirational people both past and present. All the while, life was happening outside of the online world. When I found myself worrying about something from the past or acting out of fear when my children did something questionable, I’d ask myself, “how am I good enough to be the moderator for MGL when I am not always able to practice being calm, cool and collected in real life?”….And these thoughts arose often.

One day it occurred to me that I should recognize my self-limiting beliefs and look at how much of it was true. I thought to myself, “I am not the Dalai Lama or Eckhart Tolle so why am I holding myself to the same standards as life long practicing spiritual gurus? My practice is young and ongoing. I am just a drop in the ocean hoping to make a ripple. I am human and perfection is unrealistic.” Since that day, these feelings have diminished. Not vanished, but diminished.

Do you have imposter syndrome?

Impostor syndrome is a term coined in 1978 by clinical psychologists Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes. It describes people who feel inadequate and are unable to accept their accomplishments as well-deserved despite their apparent success. These people often believe that they will be exposed as a “phony”. Some even think they are only successful out of luck and not because they are hardworking or skilled at what they do.

This condition was found to be equally prevalent in both men and women and a study conducted in the 1980s discovered that two out of five successful people thought of themselves as frauds. They also discovered 70 percent of all people felt like impostors at one time or another in their life. Even famous people like Maya Angelou, Tom Hanks, Chuck Lorre, Sheryl Sandberg, Emma Watson, just to name a few, have admitted to feelings of inadequacy. (Wikipedia)

So, is there something we can do about Imposter Syndrome? Well, rather than let these self-defeating thoughts overcome you, here are suggestions on how to face these negative feelings head on.

  1. Acknowledge the feelings as they emerge
    Recognize when the negative self-talk is happening. Write down what you are saying to yourself like, “I’m not worthy of being in this position”, “I don’t really deserve this”, or “Someone is going to realize I’m a fake”. It helps to note what you say and how often you say it. Be the observer of your thoughts.
  2. Shift your mindset
    Re-write the story in your head and turn negative into positive self-talk.  Think about whether what you are saying to yourself is realistic. Can you counter every negative belief?
  3. Check your expectations
    Realize there is no such thing as a perfect human being. You are a work in progress. Even experts, Olympic athletes and gurus are bound to be imperfect, they just have quicker recovery times.
  4. Celebrate your successes
    Along with a gratitude practice, exercise self-compassion and self-love and keep a record of your accomplishments and strengths. Review this list when you are feeling down.
  5. Improve your weaknesses
    If it’s your weaknesses you are insecure about, hone in on strengthening what you need to work on. Write down the things you can do to make self-development a priority. If you make a mistake, remind yourself that life is about learning. 
  6. Realize insecurity is a common human condition
    At some point or another, every person on this planet has felt inadequate. Recognize that even the most successful people don’t live flawlessly and neither should you. Embrace your imperfections.

In the end, Imposter Syndrome is just another part of our insecure inner child reaching out for some comfort and love. Practice self-care and praise yourself for your efforts and accomplishments.

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