Hello again and welcome back to the episode on imposter syndrome. So what I want to explain today is what is imposter syndrome because so many of my clients experience it. If you’re not familiar with the term, you are in the right place. I would also like to then talk about where this syndrome actually comes from and what you can do about it.
Now as a woman in medicine you probably either experience imposter syndrome yourself or know someone who does. I find that this is actually pretty common for so many of you. You’re absolutely not alone in this.
So where does this come from? What is it? We’re going to answer all these questions today. So let’s just back up. If you are somebody who has found that you really know what you’re doing but even when you do your work and you do it well, you find yourself feeling anxious about somebody else figuring out that you’re actually not that knowledgeable, that you’re actually not that good at what you do, that you are essentially a fraud.
Now this is clearly problematic thinking because it creates a lot of anxiety and if we know one thing for sure it’s that we do not experience that anxiety because of some sort of circumstance but because of the way that we’re thinking. So if you are somebody who is filled with that constant anxiety specifically at work, then know that this is pretty common and we’ll talk about this mindset that brings this about and then the solution is actually pretty straightforward if you understand how you get here in the first place.
So Imposter syndrome is really this idea, this thought that goes through your mind that you are a fraud, right? So imagine that you’re going through life and you tell yourself that in a different area where you actually don’t feel like you have imposter syndrome, right? Like let’s say you have to write your name on a piece of paper. That is really easy and straightforward for all of us, right? But let’s see that you had this notion that you had to be really smart in order to do this and that only certain people were really able to do it well, and then you were worried about people judging you for you not writing your name well or worried that they would discover that you’re actually not that knowledgeable in how to write your name.
I know this can sound absurd but this is essentially what’s happening, right? So you’re able to write your name but then you’re sitting there questioning yourself about “Am I really good at this or maybe I am good at this but they’re going to think that I’m not good at this.” So much of this has to do with that mind chatter and constantly questioning yourself and that’s what brings up all of this anxiety. So essentially that’s what’s happening at work right but on a greater level because this is about your profession. This is something that you’ve trained to do and you might find that you are constantly worried about people figuring this out, this big secret that will all of a sudden be revealed where you are going to be exposed, right? So living in that fear of exposure is essentially what this imposter syndrome is all about.
What I can tell you is that imposter syndrome typically comes from some sort of belief about you not being worthy or you not being enough as you are or you not being capable…one of those three things as kind of the belief behind this. So when we have these kind of beliefs, we filter information that is coming through through that lens. And so it makes sense that as you engage in social situations and you’re noticing that other people are really competent, you’re going to start questioning yourself because you’re like, “Well, they are doing an amazing job. They clearly know what they’re doing and I wonder how they think about me and I’m probably not that good. I’m not as good as they are.” We’re doing this whole comparison thing.
So I want you to notice if your mind is going in that direction because that’s what is creating all this anxiety, nothing else. And the good news in that is that if your brain is the one that’s creating the anxiety, it is also the exact mechanism that can turn this around.
So one of the things to take away is that you can clean up all of this inner chatter, inner mind chatter and actually feel a lot more competent. Now it’s not as simple as it sounds but that’s really what it boils down to, right?
It’s about making sure that you’re not comparing yourself to other people, that you’re not constantly questioning yourself, and that you’re not so afraid of what other people might be thinking or that you’re going to make a mistake because then they’ll figure something out about you.
And that then brings us to another point which is if there is that underlying belief that you are inadequate, that you are undeserving, or that you are incapable that is really where the biggest bang for your buck is going to lie because that’s where you need to do the most work. And believe me when I tell you this — that if you can change that belief system, then the whole thought process becomes much cleaner and then the anxiety — because it stands originally from your thoughts — will basically vanish, right? So instead of just having that inner voice telling you, “That’s not good enough. They’re going to find out,” then you’re going to have an inner voice that says, “Actually, you really know what you’re doing. That’s pretty good” or “At least you tried” right? And kind of be more of a cheerleader for you.
And so if you wanted really do this work I would encourage you to practice telling yourself all the things that would really help you to arrive, all the things that acknowledge you for what you are doing because listen, if your brain is going to create all this noise inside, the very least thing you can do is to counterbalance that voice. Because it doesn’t exist in solitude, right? There is this voice that tells you all the things that are wrong and maybe there’s partial truth to that, but there’s also this whole other truth that you’re not shining a light on and this is your opportunity to say, “Yes and.” In other words, “Yes I made a mistake AND I’ve done so many amazing things” or “And I have learned so much from this experience that I will be able to take forward.”
So it’s really about engaging with that voice and doing that on a regular basis so that you have that counter argument.
And then if you really want to take this even further, then I would encourage you to work on those beliefs. Clean that up and then life will be a lot easier.
If you want to find out more about how you can do this work, I encourage you to check out The Priming Lab. Go to www.ThePrimingLab.com
There you’ll be able to learn a lot more about how you can work on a belief level and really make some significant changes to your programming, to your brain so that you don’t have much of a struggle and can really eliminate this imposter syndrome. So I hope you check that out and I will see you again next week. Take care.