As promised, here I am with part 2 on the imposter syndrome and some interesting (I think so anyway) insights on people who know the syndrome firsthand. Viv Thackray (click on the link to see her Thrive Global article), says that the feelings experienced are more common than we may believe. She mentions Maya Angelou as someone well known for expressing the thought that her next book will be the one to reveal her as an impostor, as someone who doesn’t deserve her success. The article mentions actors Meryl Streep, Kate Winslet and Emma Watson as also experiencing impostor syndrome.
Factors and symptoms
It has really made me think. Clances & Imes (from my first post last month) report certain factors will bring symptoms to the surface. These factors are things common to most of us. I hope that in choosing this topic I am helping others as much as myself because I don’t think we can avoid the triggers. For example, a new opportunity or challenge presents itself and the person involved engages in over preparation, a frenzy, and when success is achieved they explain it as that frenzy, almost as if it was a fluke, an accidental achievement, and something that won’t be repeated.
It doesn’t make sense, does it? Or worse, the individual succumbs to the belief that though they managed this time, they will be discovered as a fraud next time and fully engage in the belief that the frenzy of over-preparation must be continued. To them it is obvious that they need to work twice as hard as others to achieve results. Insidious thoughts surface and grow so that any sense of accomplishment is short-lived and the whole cycle of self-doubt, anxiety and fear we had pre-achieving lives again.
Insecurity shouldn’t hold us back
Well, the laugh is on me. I understand the principle but nevertheless I succumb to the cycle, and often. Why? I’m human, and allow insecurity to rule? Or is it because my success is measured in publishing but not in sales? It shouldn’t matter, and realistically I know sales will improve. I try to learn something new each day to ensure it, and yet I still doubt. I feel like the cat in the image – locked inside my head instead of the backpack but nevertheless, a warped view of the world. So, what can we do to better understand, and overcome this emotionally depleting occurrence?
What works for me is the recognition of what I feel. All of us need to accept that a lack in confidence is normal, horrible but normal, annoying but normal. We have a need to get it right, to try for perfect but it is healthier and helpful to let go of perfectionism. What we need to do is a good job and to do a good job we need to concentrate on acknowledging strengths and weaknesses – on being realistic.
We have all had challenges of some kind and I bet we have succeeded as often as we have failed so why not believe that? Maybe instead of thinking we were lucky; we should celebrate the fact we succeeded. Small successes are still positive outcomes, and so are failures. We learn what not to do. For me, what gets me through is that I am not afraid to admit my self-doubt to others and in talking about them I push on. I find articles and share what I learn by talking about it like I am doing right now. It doesn’t however, eliminate me from experiencing self-doubt.
I still internalise, and my inner dialogue is harsh, reinforcing my fears. I need strategies in place; I think we all do so perspective and positivity stay at the forefront of our thinking. With thanks to people like Viv Thackray and Angela Kambouris featuring in Part 3, I hope to share more practical ways to overcome the self-doubt that leads to imposter syndrome. Sometimes we need it spelled out to us. I do. What about you?
Till next time
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