Reflections

Is It ‘Imposter Syndrome’?

by | Oct 11, 2018 | Coaching, Entrepreneurs, Mind unset


That is a loose label these days- often grabbing everyone’s attention!
…Did it grab yours?

What is ‘impostor syndrome’ anyway?
In the Harvard Business Review, Gail Corkendale explains, “Impostor syndrome can be defined as a collection of feelings of inadequacy which persist, despite evident success. ‘Impostors’ suffer from chronic self-doubt and a sense of intellectual fraudulence, which override any feelings of success or external proof of their competence.”

Wikipedia explains it as:
“Impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon, impostor-ism, fraud syndrome or the impostor experience) is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud”.Despite external evidence of their competence, those experiencing this phenomenon remain convinced that they are frauds, and do not deserve all they have achieved. Individuals with impostor-ism incorrectly attribute their success to luck, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent than they perceive themselves to be. While early research focused on the prevalence among high-achieving women, impostor syndrome has been recognized to affect both men and women equally. Impostor phenomenon is not a mental disorder, yet there is research describing various management styles for this internal experience.”

So- is it a label? Or is it a thought that pops up into our mind, and we get caught into the web of the big inadequate feeling it creates for us?

I tend to agree with, and will focus here on the latter.
You see, we are constantly living in the feelings of our own thinking, moment to moment. Circumstance happens: we get a thought. That thought creates a feeling, and we feel that thought.

Sometimes we innocently get lost here believing that the circumstance created our feelings, not thought. In turn, that gets us stuck in some big thinking/feelings… And this is where the ‘impostor syndrome’ bubble is formed.

Quite a snowball effect really…
You see, we are actually feeling our thinking about the circumstance… that is how we are psychologically experiencing life moment to moment.
But, sometimes we innocently get caught in a misunderstanding: that something other than thought is what is creating our feelings…
We get stuck there and that is where this ‘impostor syndrome’ comes in.

So… perhaps you may be in a place where you’re trying something new: maybe a new job, position, career, or maybe even a new bold idea. Raising your fees, starting a new career….Let’s call this the ‘what’.  Then, you get a thought: Who am I to…? What if someone finds out I am not good enough? What if I can’t do this? You know what I mean…a thought. Now, you may find yourself feeling inadequate, worried, guilty, afraid, doubtful… And here is where it sometimes slips into the misunderstanding.


You see, we get this feeling and then we panic! That panic or big feelings occur when we believe the ‘what’ is causing our feelings…

That innocent misunderstanding of ‘how’ we are psychologically experiencing that circumstance is where we slip. It is where we might freeze up, and get stuck. When we slip into this misunderstanding’… that’s where we find ourselves in this difficulty: aka ‘impostor syndrome’.

Then we start feeling I am not good enough to do this, what if someone finds out? I don’t deserve this? The thoughts multiply, we are panicked in the big feelings…

It looks so real- and we believe it!

A psychological slip-up in understanding, really.

But, there is some great news! When, and only when, we are able to notice the actual truth: the truth of how we are psychologically experiencing life moment to moment… and (here it is) that we are feeling our thinking about the ‘what’… and furthermore we are feeling our thinking about our own self. That we are experiencing ourself right now via our thoughts. Then that’s it! Yes, that’s it! When we are able to notice that we are simply experiencing the feelings of our thinking; we effortlessly fall back into our innate serene state… With clarity, confidence, and ease.

The misunderstanding falls away, and we are left in truth. Where we effortlessly find ourselves in acceptance of being in “I am”, and “what is”… leaving that impostor bubble to pop.