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7th Nov 2017

3 Sure-fire Ways to Tame your Inner Imposter

Sinead Sharkey

It’s that time of the week again and we’ve another fantastic blog from Sinead Sharkey of Generation Women, this week she shares with us how to stand out in your career.

Ever felt like a fraud at work?  That one of these days you’re going to get found out that you aren’t as good as people think you are?  You’re suffering from Imposter Syndrome.  It’s that feeling that you’re not worthy of your successes, that really you’re just lucky, so you end up working twice as hard as you need to so that you won’t be unmasked.

What’s it stopping you from doing?

It’s what’s holding you back from speaking up in a meeting, or from going for the job you want because you don’t believe you’re 100% qualified.  The good news is, if it’s a recognised syndrome, you can feel some consolation over the fact that you are not alone!  In fact, research has shown that the more competent you are, the more likely you are to feel fraudulent. 

Not only is it comforting to know that you’re not alone. You are in fact in great company. Famous sufferers include: Maya Angelou, Kate Winslet, Meryl Streep, Sheryl Sandberg. 

Our brains, the protector??!!

Our brains have an inbuilt need to keep us safe, which is obviously helpful. 

Annoyingly, its can result in perceiving something outside your comfort zone as a threat.  It’s wired like we are in the olden days when we needed to be on high alert for life or death situations…like being eaten by a bear.  Not so helpful when we suffer anxiety because we are about to do something as life-threatening as a presentation!

Weapons to tame your gremlins…

I’m not immune to the war on imposter syndrome, and neither are my clients.  But when you have the strategies to manage it, you can totally change your attitude.  I never thought I’d be happy to appear on radio or do TV interviews, but these simple tools have given me the confidence to go for it.  Here are my top 3 weapons:

1. Journaling daily on what you did well. This is the most important thing you can do for yourself. One of the biggest reasons we feel like imposters is because we struggle to own our successes. Instead of putting it down to good fortune or voodoo, you need to start recognising the part you’ve played in your achievements. When you take time out of your day every day to write down 3 things you did well, you are practising that. As a result you will be reviewing your day with a different set of lenses in your glasses, rather than the ones that help you see and beat yourself up for every minor mistake. Over time you will rewire your brain to become more aware of the things you’re good at, and this will make you much more confident in them, and in general. 

2. Visualising success. Our brains are both magnificent and stupid at the same time. Our brains don’t know the difference between the real and imagined, so when we visualise doing something confidently and successfully, the brain treats that the same way as if we did it.  By visualising it, you can create a comfort factor, prime your brain to be successful, and also to work out what success looks like…which means calculating the steps to take you there. Start by visualising the ideal end outcome, and walk backwards through it. Repeating visualisations will make it clearer and more effective. 

3. The feel the fear and do it anyway method. Sometimes you’ve just got to take the plunge. I’ve 2 things to make it a bit easier for you. The first is to let you know that nerves and excitement have the same feeling (as you learned last week). So instead of telling yourself you’re nervous, tell yourself that you’re excited to…[identify an opportunity].  The second thing is to consider ‘what’s the worst that can happen?’ Usually it isn’t world-ending stuff, so get over it.  Think about all the times you’ve pushed yourself outside your comfort zone and succeeded. And if it makes you feel better, make a plan for the worst-case scenario. Your brain loves a plan so will focus on that instead of stressing you out!

Practise these tactics regularly and you will build authentic confidence.  Imagine what you could achieve if you weren’t afraid!


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