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Mind Games

Have you ever started something new that you have never tried before and felt like an imposter or fake? You could be a first time sporting volunteer, have a new job/role at work or be a first time ballet mum/dad. For 40 plus years I have suffered from imposter syndrome every now and then. It seems to come to me when I compare myself to others or if I have been given responsibility for something I have never done before.

I have recently changed jobs and one of the functions I am responsible for I have never managed. It is a highly technical and male dominated function. There are days where I am in meetings or discussions and I just feel like I shouldn’t have a set at the table or have nothing to contribute.

I have been a ballet mum for 10 years now and still feel like a total ballet mum failure compared to the other mums.

Once upon a time I use to let these scenarios eat me up inside; but over the years I have learnt to deal with these lapses in confidence with some immediate actions and long term strategies.

What is imposter syndrome?

Impostor Syndrome is a prevalent feeling of self-doubt, insecurity, or fraudulence despite often overwhelming evidence to the contrary (Hendrickson, 2015). People with the Imposter Syndrome obsess about mistakes, negative feedback, and failure; and don’t attribute their genuine personal success to themselves but external factors such as luck or coincidence. Their perception does not reflect reality. It can limit a person’s ability to be courageous and pursue opportunities.

Immediate steps

  1. Identify and acknowledge your internal thoughts of self doubt or fraud

  2. Reframe negative thoughts with positive mantras

  3. Stop comparing yourself to others

  4. Identify what strengths or alternative knowledge/skills you bring the situation

  5. Reframe your view: view setbacks and mistakes as lessons learned

Long term/preventative steps

  1. Identify the triggers or root causes of these thoughts e.g. stressful environment, new challenge, comparison to talented siblings/co-workers, fast rise to fame/success

  2. Identify coping strategies/tactics to deal with those triggers

  3. Engage in cognitive therapy to develop coping strategies that challenge unhelpful thinking patterns

  4. Journal prompt 1: Write down what value you provide e.g. what unique skills do you bring to the table? What problems do you solve for your customers, stakeholders or organisation? Who draws on your expertise right now?

  5. Journal prompt 2: Write down your list of achievements


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