The word imposter means: ‘one who engages in deception under an assumed name or identity’.
Now that’s not many of us (thank God!) How many of us walk around with a clutch of different passports, or work for the secret services?
And yet most of us know what it feels like to be an imposter. We may not call ourselves by a different name, or walk around in disguise, but we’ve all felt that panicky, ‘what-am-I-doing-here?’ feeling.
It’s a feeling that comes with not living life on your own terms.
Do you ever feel you need to be a certain way to keep family members happy? What about friends or work colleagues?
It’s actually a scientific term. Imposter syndrome is defined by ‘a persistent fear of being exposed as a ‘fraud‘.’
Why do we sometimes feel like an imposter?
A lot of what we believe about the world, and what we believe about ourselves, comes from our environment. This is a double-edged sword. Our environment can give us a lot of positives. The problem is when some of those beliefs are negative.
These become self-limiting beliefs. It’s that little voice in your head that tells you, ‘you can’t do this’ or ‘you’re not good enough for this’.
Self-limiting beliefs can strike in many forms. Perhaps you believe you don’t deserve a happy relationship? Or you’re not the sort of person who could be good at sports?
In business, perhaps you don’t believe you’re good enough to promote yourself as a public person? Perhaps you don’t feel you have what it takes to be a successful entrepreneur?
How do we be who we really want to be?
1) Keep a notebook / diary and jot down moments of envy.
The truth of who we really want to be sometimes reveals itself in moments of envy. Note any envious moments. What exactly about a certain person or situation makes you feel envious? What is it you feel you lack?
I might sometimes have a moment when I see someone who started around the same time as me with a wildly successful blog or social media account.
You’re not alone and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Grab that moment and use it to set a fire under your backside! 🙂
2) Keep a note of any daydreams you have.
When we allow our minds to wander, we temporarily suspend all of our self-limiting beliefs. It’s in these moments of no constraints that the truth of what we really desire comes out.
I daydream about becoming a best selling author, about becoming a successful documentary maker in developing countries and being a size 10 and looking amazing in a white bikini!
3) Now, note down all the self-limiting beliefs you have.
If you’ve followed steps 1 and 2, this part will be easy. Whenever we feel envious of someone, we’ll rationalise it by using our self-limiting beliefs.
For example, I might see a hugely successful travel blog and feel a pang of envy and then begin to rationalise it with my own self limiting beliefs of – ‘OMG, look how young and beautiful the blogger is, doesn’t she look amazing in that white bikini, I’ll never be as successful because I’m past it now!’.
Crazy talk! She’s successful because she’s been posting consistently for the past few years while I’ve been sunning myself on the Phuket beaches!
You might meet someone who tells you about a webinar they hosted recently and they had hundreds of attendees. You feel a pang of envy, but then you rationalise it by thinking ‘this person is a natural showman, I’m not’ or they’re a natural presenter, or they’re better at marketing, whatever you think is holding you back.
Also, whenever we daydream, we have tendency to pull ourselves back to our current reality, again using our self-limiting beliefs. So if we’ve been daydreaming about holding a webinar which is a massive success, soon enough, there will be a voice in our heads saying something like ‘you can’t hold a successful webinar – you don’t have an engaging personality’ etc.
[Tweet “If you’re ever in doubt know this – YOU ARE A ROCKSTAR!”]
Look at your business and evaluate your self-limiting beliefs. What are your beliefs about your technical skills? About making videos? About starting a blog? About promoting yourself as a public figure? About writing an eBook? About hosting webinars?
4) Now change the question. Amend each belief to ‘But, if I could do this, what would I do?’
So, if you’re feeling envious of this webinar superstar for example, and the voice in your head is saying you don’t deserve success because you’re not like them, change it to, ‘But if I could do what they’re doing even without being a confident presenter yet, what would I do?’
It’s easier to act yourself into thinking than to think yourself into acting. In other words start doing what it is you want to do and soon enough you’ll be who you want to be!
The only way for me to become a best selling author is to write books! They may not be great books to start with, but it’s only by doing it we become better at it!
I recently went skiing and spent the first two days in perpetual snow plough with tears of fear icing up on my face!
By the end of the 6 day trip I was parallel skiing and whooping down a baby blue run!
The ‘Be, Do, Have’ model is all wrong. You can’t Be until you Do!
So change the belief by asking yourself, if you could do what they’re doing, what would you do? What qualities do they have that you could adopt? Are they incredibly friendly and generous? Are they the sort of person who makes people feel good when they are around them? What about them could you emulate?
Perhaps another self-limiting belief you have in your business is that you would suck at doing a webinar and that no one would attend.
Change that belief to, ‘But if I was webinar rock star, and hundreds of people would attend, what would I do / how would I go about it?’
Then, whatever you said you would do, DO IT. Act yourself into thinking!
5) Write your dying regrets.
Now, I’m not trying to be morose here, but asking yourself what you would regret not having done if you were going to pop off today is great way of really getting to the crux of how you want your life to be.
Sometimes we live aimlessly, letting life take us on it’s own path, without putting a steak in the ground and saying – No, I want to go this way!
It’s easy enough to do. We get busy, put other people first and all of a sudden 10 years has passed.
What do YOU want. Who do YOU want to be. What will make YOU happy.
I guarantee you won’t ever regret what you tried, only what you didn’t.
Will the above exercise completely eradicate ‘imposter syndrome’? No. There will be moments when you will still feel like an imposter.
But the stories you tell yourself in your own head, are just that, stories.
Change your story.
It’s your life, and you deserve to have the starring role! Be the best YOU you can be.