Imposter Syndrome – The False Narrative

The imposter syndrome, that haunting feeling that all your achievements are by accident, that everyone else is more proficient… and you’re not. It’s an uncomfortable place to be.

It’s the familiar lie we call the Imposter Syndrome.

If This Sounds Familiar to You, It Doesn’t Have to

This persistent self-doubt plagues people across all occupations and skill levels. The insidious lies whisper doubts into your mind. Their purpose is to undermine your every success to break down your confidence. The lies reach a volume that’s so loud, they falsely seem true and hold you back from even trying. How can you possibly reach your potential when your thoughts believe you’ll fail?

The internal spin of lies creates a problem. Those are the unhealthy thoughts you hang onto. The longer they stay, the larger and more dangerous they become. Yet, they are familiar and that familiarity oddly becomes a sense of comfort.

A View of Clients That Lived With Imposter Syndrome

As strange as that sounds, I’ve seen it time and time again. For a decade, I’ve worked with long-term abuse victims, military, law enforcement, first responders, and survivors of toxic workplaces. The imposter syndrome, while not always referred by the term, consistently surfaced during the sessions.

Abuse Victims

Why do victims of abuse stay in the net of their abuser for decades? It’s what they know. Amid the uncertainty of each day, their abnormal life is the closest thing they know to an odd sense of normal. For years, the negative words outside their heads turned to beliefs inside their head. So, they stayed in place rather than pursue something better.

Toxic Workplace Survivors

In the last few years, I’ve found survivors of toxic workplaces shared the same mental states as abuse victims. Years of bullying, being minimized and mistreated, permeated into their thought patterns. They believed the negatives by management or co-workers. So, they stayed in place rather than pursue something better.

Military, Law Enforcement & First Responders

What about military, law enforcement or first-responders? The challenges they face have differences and similarities. I’ve lived in those worlds and there is a stigma about struggling. When the stresses come, the doubts make them fear they are not strong enough to be in those professions.

What About You?

Your background might be totally different with no relation to any of the groups I mentioned above. Yet, in practically all instances where repetitive self-doubts interfere in your life, they always come from the same place. Our thoughts, feelings, and beliefs are born in our subconscious mind.

An important point is the word “Repetitive”. While it’s natural to have moments of self-doubt, a person who struggles with confidence can get into a worry loop that amplifies the feelings of imposter syndrome. Whereas, a confident and resilient person might recognize the doubts, then look for ways to overcome them.

Reframe the False Narrative – It’s More Than a Name

Reframe

The very name: “Imposter Syndrome” assumes it’s a single thing. There are few (if any) thoughts, feelings, or beliefs with a solitary existence. A power of the human mind is its ability to operate beyond a binary data format of “ON” or “OFF”, or “YES” or “NO”. The mind collectively reviews multiple signals from many directions before processing the result.

Here’s why reframing the false narrative can be a powerful step towards reclaiming your confidence and owning your accomplishments. Instead of viewing imposter syndrome as a singular entity, consider it the result of a variety of different internal struggles.

These include:

  • Attribution Bias: Downplaying successes as luck and attributing failures to personal inadequacy.
  • Perfectionism: Holding yourself to impossibly high standards, leading to self-criticism and feelings of inadequacy.
  • Social Comparison: Constantly comparing yourself to others, often focusing on their perceived strengths and overlooking your own.
  • Internalized Stereotypes: Believing in negative stereotypes associated with your identity group, that makes you feel undeserving.

Reframe the Narrative From “Imposter” to “Thriver”

By shifting our perspective, we can dismantle the imposter narrative and reclaim our power.

  • Acknowledge Your Doubts: Don’t silence your anxieties. Instead, acknowledge them as normal human emotions and explore their underlying causes.
    • Are you facing a new challenge?
    • Do you need to set more realistic expectations?
  • Focus on Facts: Fact-check your self-doubt. List your achievements, big and small, and remind yourself of the skills and effort it took you to get there.
  • Celebrate Milestones: Don’t wait for the “perfect” moment to celebrate. Acknowledge and appreciate your progress, no matter how incremental.
  • Employ the Growth Mindset: View challenges as opportunities to learn and grow, not setbacks. We all make mistakes; it’s a natural part of the journey toward confidence, resilience, and overall success.
  • Connect with a Support Network: Surround yourself with supportive people who believe in you and celebrate your successes. Share your vulnerabilities with trusted friends and mentors who can offer encouragement and guidance.

Moving From Self-Doubt to Self-Belief

Imagine you’re a new employee with a technology company. When You consider the other employees, it’s easy to feel unprepared and notice the imposter syndrome causing you doubt and fear. You don’t want to be seen as unqualified and be “Found out”.

Instead of letting self-doubt take over, apply the following approach:

  • Acknowledge your anxieties: Recognize that it’s normal to feel nervous in a new environment. It’s okay not to be hard on yourself.
  • Focus on evidence: Remind yourself of your qualifications and the skills you bring to the table. List your accomplishments in previous roles and projects. If you were not qualified, they would have hired someone else. They didn’t — they hired you.
  • Celebrate milestones: Don’t wait for the big promotion to celebrate. Acknowledge your progress, no matter how small.
    • Completing a challenging task?
    • Finishing a project on time?
    • All are achievements worth celebrating.
  • Embrace the growth mindset: View any error as an opportunity to learn and grow. Ask questions, seek feedback, and don’t be afraid to take risks.
  • Connect with Your Support Network: Find mentors and colleagues who can provide support and encouragement. Share your vulnerabilities and build a network of people who believe in you.

When you reframe the false narrative and adopt a growth mindset, you can transform the “perceived” imposter syndrome into a personal model for continuous learning and improvement. With each milestone, you create a path for a healthy and thriving future. You are NOT an imposter—you are a thriver, capable of incredible things.

Get Ready to Live the Real You.

If you’ve found this article helpful, we invite you to explore our profile for more resources and insights on overcoming self-doubt and fostering self-confidence. Together, we can rewrite the narrative and strengthen your full potential, one step at a time.

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About the Author

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Anthony M. Davis is a Certified Leadership, Success and Stress Coach. He is a clinically trained Board Certified Hypnotherapist.

He has earned a national reputation for his Transformative Life Centering work with clients from across the nation. His unique approach helps clients remove underlying fears and triggers, and then, through coaching, helps them pursue and accomplish life and career goals.

He provides Coaching and Hypnotherapy sessions remotely through Zoom. If you have challenges and are ready to move past them, Contact him Here to create the life change you desire.

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