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Finally! The Cure for Impostor Syndrome


As a Hypnotherapist by day and a Performance Coach by night, one of the most common matters people will seek advice on, is how to feel more confident in their work environment.  Individuals that feel completely at ease within the comfort zone of friends and family, can suffer from debilitating the debilitating effects of Impostor Syndrome through out their careers.   The worry of being ‘found out’ leaves people constantly second guessing their peers and their boss’ thoughts about them, preventing them for focusing on the task in hand.  This in turns makes them less productive, less able to take calculated risks and generally more ineffective at the job that they have been hired to do, eventually leading to them being….Found out!  So what can you do to help overcome this, oh so common, career saboteur?

1. Mentally Rehearse Your Success Instead of your Failure

Many people by now are extremely familiar with the concept of visualization and acting ‘as if‘ your success has already been achieved.  The ability to imagine one’s future self, is a vital component of both hypnotherapy and performance coaching sessions. Speak to any highly successful sports star and they will talk about the hundreds or thousands of times they visualized themselves taking the winning kick, or seeing themselves crossing the finishing line in first place, before reality played out in the same way.   However, people experiencing the negative effects of Impostor Syndrome, often do the exact opposite – mentally rehearsing there downfall and failure.  If this is you STOP doing that, because the more you imagine yourself turning bright red and forgetting you words; in exactly the same way as the successful sportsman (or woman) sets himself up for success, you are setting yourself up for failure, as you eventually step into the failing future self, you have imagined so often.  So remember, you are not your thoughts and the minute you want to take control you can,  either going with the flow or choose to focus your attention elsewhere…It is not always easy to do, but you can do it!

2. Failure is Good

Often overcoming Impostor Syndrome, is about helping a person to change their perspective around the fear of failure.  It is the fear of failing, that renders a person immobilized, scared to make a decision in case it’s the wrong one.   When in fact, the only wrong decision, is a decision that isn’t made, or at least isn’t made in time.  Without exception, every time we get something wrong, we learn something new, unless we fail to see the lesson the first time around; when this is the case, we keep making the same mistakes until the penny finally drops.   Every businessman or women that you have ever admired, will have messed up in some way, at one point or another in their lives.  It is through getting it wrong that we earn our stripes and gain the insight required to make sound business decisions and take more calculated risks in the future.   So don’t be scared of what is almost as certain as death and taxes, you will mess up, you will learn and you’ll get over it.

3. It’s OK to feel afraid

Whenever we do something outside of our comfort zone there will always be an element of fear.  This is a very necessary evolutionary tool, that keeps us safe when we’re exploring uncharted territory in the wild.  The fact that there you’re not about to lose your life to a Saber-Tooth tiger, completely bypasses the part of the brain that is responsible for igniting your fear receptors. It just knows that you’re doing something unfamiliar and therefore, you should be programmed to feel slightly more alert or on edge, just in case.   So should that familiar nervousness arise in the future, rather than trying to deny it’s existence, or berating yourself for not feeling physically cool, calm and collected; acknowledge that this is your body’s way priming itself for action and being ready for action is a good thing.  The Bullet Proof Musician has some great advice for managing anxiety when you need to turn out a super star performance.

So if mind and body are inextricably linked, and that’s the head sorted, what physical actions can you take to help yourself move beyond that impostor feeling?  

4. Do Your Homework

Brian Tracy states, by employing the simple act of consistently reading about your chosen subject matter for just 30 minutes a day, not only do you boost your earning potential, but you torpedo yourself to the top of your profession.  So, making reading part of your daily routine, will of course boost your confidence.  Whilst always ensuring that you have swatted up before any big meeting or networking event, will help you to feel that you have something worth while to contribute alongside being able to ask some pertinent questions, should you so wish.  It may sound obvious, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t do their research.

5. Get Your Clients to Do the Talking

 Whilst it’s important to have your bases covered, and witty little anecdotes can often make a person a crowd pleaser, you do not have to be the greatest orator to make a impression.  Shifting the focus from you to your client, can go a long way to creating a big impact, without you having to do all of the work.   Google and Linkedin are your best friends, for helping you to do a little bit of healthy cyber stalking before your big meeting – so use them!  A couple of relevant questions that illustrate that you have done your homework and give them the space to do what most people love to do best – talk about themselves – can immediately elevate your status, leave you looking like the ultimate professional.

 6. Power Pose

There has been a lot of talk about Power Poses in the press recently and they have been scientifically proven to work.  Whether you use this as part of your regular morning routine or before you need to ‘turn it on’, simply standing for two minutes and looking at yourself in a mirror (the mirror isn’t essential) in your power position, changes the chemical make up of the brain, and in the case of the Power Pose, this is a good thing, enhancing you’re ability to perform at your peak.  A pose to get you started with – both hands on your hips, shoulders down and back , chin slightly raised and feet slightly wider than hip width apart.  Think Superman. It feels a little silly at first, but the minute you get over yourself and start to embrace the Power, it begins to feel great!  

To conclude, whilst I think that is very normal to feel slightly uncomfortable whenever a leap into the unknown is taken; remember that you have been put in your role, given a new responsibility or whatever it is that is taking you out of your comfort zone, for a reason.  So, give yourself time to learn the ropes and make good use of the resources around you!  If there was going to be a final point, it would be to say, know when to ask for help, muddling through blindly never helped anyone and being able to draw on other people’s expertise will only increase your knowledge and contribute to you feeling more confident about achieving your desired goals.  Good luck!

As always, it’s great to hear your comments, so if you have any other helpful strategies for overcoming Impostor Syndrome, please share in the comments below.



Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/x-ray_delta_one/

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