5 Steps to Banishing Your Own Fake News
At some time or other in your life, you will find yourself questioning your own abilities and feeling like a total fraud. You will feel like a giant phony and be fearful that any second now, someone is going to catch you out and expose you for the fraud that you are. You are not suffering from this fear alone.
Impostor Syndrome is a well- documented psychological phenomenon that leads perfectly competent and successful people to think or believe that they are in fact, the very opposite and will be exposed as a fraud. They doubt their accomplishments and even when confronted with the facts of just how well they are doing, they still have difficulty breaking free from the belief that they’re not just a massive phoney who happened to ’get lucky’ and strike upon success.
I’ve had my own battles with this nasty thought process. Here’s how I banish these thoughts:
Do a Fact-Check
When you start feeling like a massive fraud and like you just got ‘lucky’, the best thing you can do for yourself, is to be realistic about things. Firstly, ask yourself if this is the truth or whether it is your Imposter Syndrome rearing its ugly little head. Nobody just ‘gets lucky’. There is always, always, a ton of hard work that has preceded success and you should acknowledge your own journey, and your hard work, in getting to where you are right now. Make a list of your hard work, and your struggles and your accomplishments, if you have to, just to remind yourself that your career and success to date has been a hard road and you are definitely deserving of your accomplishments.
Recognise that your feelings are real but your thoughts are not
I find that Imposter Syndrome tends to go hand in hand with highly stressful times when I am perhaps feeling a little anxious or overwhelmed, or when I am being asked to step outside of my comfort zone and stretch myself a little. We all have a fear of failure and when we are stressed or feeling anxious, it’s important to sit with that feeling and embrace it. Understand that the feeling of anxiety or overwhelm is definitely real. But the thoughts that go along with those feelings? Those are not real! Those thoughts are lies that we’re telling ourselves in an attempt to ‘protect’ ourselves from possible failure or to keep us playing small and not attract any limelight because we were raised to think that it’s wrong to attract attention. It’s not. It’s ok to be brilliant at something and own that brilliance, sister!
Never stop learning and growing
A major contributor to our collective Imposter Syndrome, is often that we feel inadequately knowledgeable or prepared for a specific situation or project – especially if we are being called upon as an ‘expert’ in our field. In order to banish this feeling, it’s important to firstly be aware of our own limitations in knowledge and skill and then to commit to lifelong learning – not just in our own field of expertise, but in general. It’s also super important to commit to continued personal growth and development. I have learned that every phase in my life requires a different version of ‘me’. I think of it almost like a video game where you go through levels and you gather physical strength and different tools and ‘weapons’ that you will need in future levels of the game. Level up, girl! Keep doing the work and building on the foundation you have created, so that you have access to an increasing arsenal of ’weapons’ (skills, knowledge and abilities) in your personal and professional life.
Every single person on this planet, is on their own journey and their own life path. Each one of us is unique and we have unique talents and gifts to offer the world. Stop comparing yourself to others or wishing you were ‘more like them’. It just dilutes your authenticity and shakes your confidence even more. Being called an ‘expert’ is because someone else has decided this and labeled the person as such. Having a PhD doesn’t necessarily mean that another writer or coach is smarter than me – they just spent more time at school than I did. Just focus on doing the work and being the best version of ‘you’ that you can possibly be. Stay in your lane, play in your space and leave others to play in theirs. No space is necessarily ‘better’ or more preferable. They’re just ‘different’. And that’s ok.
Stop Hiding your Light
When you allow Imposter Syndrome to really take hold of you, you really start losing confidence in yourself and your own abilities and then you start shrinking further and further into the background. You’re basically robbing the world of your unique contribution and you’re robbing yourself of opportunities to learn and grow and really make a difference. You’re not doing anyone – least of all yourself – any favours by playing small and hiding your talent and your light.
I know that it’s hard sometimes and you will have days when you doubt yourself. Just remember that your fear is a liar and it’s holding you back. Call out your Imposter Syndrome for the nasty mind-gremlin that it is and don’t allow this fear to keep you from shining your light, and being the best ‘you’ that you can be. You are talented and hard-working. You have a contribution to make in this life and your story inspires others. You have worked hard for what you have achieved and you are most definitely NOT a fraud.
Deborah Hartung is a Consultant, Coach, Author and Speaker. She has spent almost 20 years advising corporates on matters relating to employee relations, corporate culture and leadership development. Deborah is passionate about people and technology, the human experience in the workplace and the opportunities for the advancement of humanity in the digital age. Deborah lives in Johannesburg, South Africa and is committed to ensuring that her children – daughter, Reagan and son, Owen – have as many adventures and experiences as possible. Amongst her friends she is known as the woman who always needs at least SPF50 sunscreen and someone who can trip and fall whilst barefoot and stone cold sober. A big fan of tequila, craft beer and MCC, Deborah loves entertaining friends and is secretly a rather big fan of baking.