Dr. Caneel Joyce is a sought-after speaker, women’s movement maker, and startup culture builder.
How to Overcome Imposter Syndrome at Work
Spiders. Clowns. Open water. Public speaking. Snakes.
There are a lot of things you might be afraid of.
One of the most common fears I encounter as a coach is the fear of inadequacy. The fear of being discovered as a “fraud.”
You are NOT a fraud. But Imposter Syndrome might be telling you that you are.
So what is Imposter Syndrome?
Imposter Syndrome is when you believe you are not as competent as others perceive you to be and have feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success.
You may be unsure of yourself, be self-critical, paranoid, guilty, anxious, ashamed, or overwork in an attempt to make up this deficit.
When you’re suffering from Imposter Syndrome you may feel in a constant state of threat – the threat of being unmasked as a fraud, the threat of someone else “taking” your position, threatened by the success of others, or seeking validation in harmful ways.
Imposter Syndrome is one of the most commonly experienced ways to suffer that I have ever come across in all of my coaching work.
This mindset doesn’t just occur in those who are new to their fields.
I’ve worked with CEOs in their 60’s who feel like they are an imposter, even if it is their fifth time being a CEO, and they’ve been a huge success every single time along the way.
Imposter Syndrome is not something you “earn” or achieve your way out of. It is a mindset you combat with intentional inner work.
If you feel like a fraud, you’re not alone in this experience. So many other humans struggle with these feelings.
Let’s discuss how you can break free from this mindset.
Question Your Inner Critic – Imposter Syndrome Tool
One popular theory regarding Imposter Syndrome is it occurs when you allow your inner critic’s villainous stories to occupy your minds and influence your perception of yourself.
Your inner critic may have you stuck in thoughts like:
I don’t deserve my new job.
One method of combating these Imposter Syndrome thoughts is to question your inner critic.
- What is the story I am telling myself?
- Would I be willing to experience that the opposite of that story is at least as true as my story itself?
Applying this technique results in opposite thoughts like:
- I do deserve my new job.
- This job doesn’t deserve me.
- I deserved this job three years ago.
There are many different opposites to each limiting, critical, or judgemental story you tell yourself. You could argue each one is at least as true as the one you are telling yourself!
Questioning your inner critic and looking at the opposites of the stories you’re telling yourself allows you to get out of Below the Line thought patterns.
Curiosity is Key – Imposter Syndrome Tool
Typically, Imposter Syndrome is bothersome because you value authenticity. What’s amazing about working through Imposter Syndrome is it can help lead you down a path of powerful honesty.
Let’s assume you are indeed an imposter. You’ve been acting like you know what you’re doing but you actually don’t and you’re insecure about it.
This self-awareness is transformational because now you can play with curiosity.
When you admit you don’t know everything, you can focus less on being an imposter and instead focus on your identity as a “learner.”
Squash the imposter in you by being proactive and approaching things you don’t know with genuine curiosity, willingness to learn, and ask questions.
Curiosity is a tool always available to you as a conscious leader. Questioning your stories and playing around with how the opposite is true can open up creativity that wasn’t accessible to you before.
Shifting your internal narrative from “I’m a fraud” to “I’m still developing myself and my skills” frees you from the shackles of feelings of inadequacy and empowers you to utilize your curiosity.
When you work through Imposter Syndrome with intentional personal development, you can begin to see your Below the Line stories for what they really are, stories, not facts.
The stories you tell yourself are often scarier than the stories you internalize from others. You have the power to shift your mindset and step into your full aliveness.
You are Allowed to learn. You are Allowed to question your inner critic. You are Allowed to succeed.
About this episode:
Today, we are tackling Imposter Syndrome. It is one of the most commonly experienced things I have ever come across in all of my coaching work.
Imposter Syndrome is when you feel like a fraud. You think everyone will find out you’ve been faking it, you aren’t qualified to do the job you’re doing, to receive the rewards you’ve received, to be in the position you’re in, or to have the confidence, success, happiness, or ease you currently have.
Do you feel unsure of yourself, self-critical or self-judgmental? Do you feel paranoid, afraid others can see through you? Do you feel guilty, anxious or ashamed about it? Do you find yourself overworking in an attempt to prove yourself?
It’s time to question your stories.
In this episode, you can begin to unravel the stories leading you to experience Imposter Syndrome by exploring techniques and exercises I use with my clients. Curiosity is a tool available for you to use. It’s especially important to use curiosity when you feel like it’s not okay that you don’t know everything. This is the time when you need it most.