Have you ever felt the thrill of a hard-won success – only to completely doubt your abilities soon after? Maybe you stepped out of your comfort zone, worked very hard, did an incredible job, but then started to rationalize it was all just luck? How about feeling like a fraud, even though you have clear evidence you are not? Even irrefutable, written, positive feedback can be dismissed by the doubt and angst inflicted upon people by the Imposter Syndrome.
The Imposter Syndrome is a lying thief. Just as I started moving forward, taking risks, and enjoying successes; it crashed into my life uninvited. It relentlessly accuses me of being a fraud because – for the first time in my adult life – I’ve been able to realize the dreams I’ve had since I was a kid. I’m an author. I’m helping people. I’ve started my own business doing work I love to do. I should be on Cloud 9, patting myself on the back, and enjoying this time in my life. Instead, I have to contend with lies that try to steal my joy.
Imposter Syndrome imposes undeserved feelings of inadequacy. Anxiety of being found a fraud is unleashed in a torrent of old, traumatic memories waiting for a chance to wreak havoc in my mind. Traumatic memories of being different, less than, rejected, and not enough – swirl around in my thoughts mercilessly. Trusting myself becomes an exercise in futility as the Imposter Syndrome constantly reminds me of my fears and self-doubt.
Still, I try to ignore these nagging accusations and keep moving forward, but it is difficult. A horde of evidence from the negative social interactions I experienced growing up and even throughout my adult life of being an outcast makes it too easy to believe the false tales of the Imposter Syndrome. I have to refocus my thoughts over and over again towards the positive. At times, I fall prey to the lies and feel incapable of continuing to be successful.
There is hope though! There are steps to take to overcome the Imposter Syndrome. One is to focus on and remember previous successes. Another is to reframe failure by telling yourself that mistakes are human, they teach valuable lessons, everyone makes them, and they can move you closer to your ultimate goal. Also, if your self-talk needs adjusting – adjust it. For example, if – because of growing up autistic – you’ve gotten into the habit of negative self-talk; bring it up-to-date and have your self-talk reflect the new, positive experiences.
Another way to stop the Imposter Syndrome is to visualize yourself being successful in the future. Think about your goals and how it will feel when you reach them. Along the way, remember to practice and prioritize self-care. And, maybe the most important of all, ignore the Imposter Syndrome and keep moving forward anyway.
Here’s the kicker, the more successful you are, the more the Imposter Syndrome will try to wiggle its way into your thoughts and ruin everything. Also, the more successful you are, the more evidence you will have to prove to yourself that you are not a fraud. Remember, if you are experiencing the Imposter Syndrome, you must be doing great things! So, keep going! Continue moving forward, taking risks, meeting challenges head-on, and realizing your dreams!