Do you ever feel that you are unworthy of having your job and giving that presentation? That you don’t belong there because everyone else is so much better than you? Well, you, my friend are suffering from “the Impostor Syndrome”. This term was coined in 1978 by psychologists Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes. It is a concept describing high- achieving individuals who cannot accept their accomplishments and live in fear of being exposed as a fraud.
You are Not Alone!
Looking around your workplace, people may seem that they are so together: laughing with their colleagues, giving presentations easily and not looking nervous. Right? Wrong! Many people suffer with the Impostor Syndrome. Originally the study focused on women, but soon it was discovered that men are affected as well. And a shocking 70% of millennials feel this way.
Rewire our Brain
So how do we get over the feeling that we are not worthy? We can adopt a positive attitude about ourselves. Easy to say, but harder to do, because we are wired to process negative thoughts faster and hold on to them on longer than positive thoughts. Dr. Rick Hanson, author of Buddha’s Brain, refers to positive thoughts like Teflon and negative like Velcro.
But we can change our habit of allowing those negative thoughts to creep into our brain.
Remember Positive Comments
When someone gives you a compliment, accept it and enjoy the feeling you get from praise. You worked hard and deserve it! Don’t think that they are saying it to you to be nice. They mean it!
Focus on your Success
Was there a time when you rocked that speech? And yes, there was one speech or presentation, at some point in your life. Could’ve been as far back as Grade 4 on your presentation of “How Plants Grow”. How did that make you feel? What did the audience say or do after you presented? Try to emulate that feeling every time you speak or present. Top performers use this creative visualization all the time, whether they’re athletes, musicians or public speakers.
Back in 1991, the actor Al Franken created the character Stuart Smalley in Saturday Live. On the segment, “Daily Affirmation with Stuart Smalley”, he looked in the mirror and repeated affirmations, the most memorable being “ I’m good enough, I’m strong enough and doggone it, people like me”.
Sounds kind of hokey, I know, but try it. It could be something like, ”I’m fabulous, “I am a great speaker”, “My message rocks” Obviously you won’t be like Stuart and tell the audience that you’re fabulous. But just before you are ready to present and are being introduced, why not think it in your head it? See what happens. It’s been proven to work.
Slouching Gets You Nowhere!
When we feel that we don’t belong, we physically close in on ourselves and make our body smaller. We don’t want anyone to look at us. Social Psychologist Amy Cuddy studied how body language dictates how we think and feel about ourselves. If we move through the day or presentation with a down and in feeling, or Low Pose as she calls it, then we will feel low self-esteem and are plagued with self-doubt. Conversely, if we move our body up and out in Amy’s High Power Pose, we feel confident, we speak with more vocal energy and our self worth soars. Check out her Ted Talk.
The “Impostor Syndrome” is more common than you might think. But recognizing that it’s something you share with many people should prove to you that you’re not alone and it can be overcome. As Stuart Smalley says “you’re good enough, you’re smart enough and dog gone it, people like you”.