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Impostor Syndrome: How to beat this bummer?

If we had the opportunity, I would ask you to quickly grab a paper and a pencil and define in a few lines what the words “success” and “failure” evoke for you, because the definition that you would give would provide many elements on the reasons which sometimes paralyze you and cause the impostor syndrome to arise in you.

If the title of this article appealed to you, maybe it resonated with you and you are one of those many who suffer from impostor syndrome. What the majority defines and proudly proclaims to be success, for you, it is a notion that sometimes you find difficult to assume. So how to fight against the feeling of imposture?

Impostor Syndrome: How to beat this bummer?

But first, let's start by defining the impostor syndrome?

In fact, it is not a pathological syndrome in itself but a feeling that some people experience, that of being illegitimate, of being a fraud, and this regardless of the results obtained.

It is a psychological mechanism that prevents them from enjoying their successes, because these people feel that they are deceiving others about their skills. They often feel great anguish at the idea of being unmasked one day.

They minimize the merits of their success, and even go so far as to attribute it to factors totally independent of them. Result: They never experience satisfaction and never have the gratifying feeling of accomplishment, because they constantly devalue their work or reduce the importance of their contribution to its success.

The effects of impostor syndrome

Some people will kill themselves working until the last deadline, without taking into account their fatigue. Once the work is done, they will link their success to the amount of work done rather than to their skills. This can lead to burnout.

Other people put everything in place to fail and sabotage their work, by not respecting deadlines, by completely paralyzing them which has a disastrous effect on their creativity and productivity, by falling into procrastination, and all of that to demonstrate their illegitimacy. .

How to fight impostor syndrome?

Living with the constant feeling of being an impostor generates a lot of anxiety and can cause depression, fear of others, inability to speak in public, procrastination, etc.

But first I will tell you about the roots that I have identified that have helped me fight for decades with impostor syndrome.

I’ve been speaking in front of people for more than 25 years.

My first business led me to lead a team of 75 people. Due to my activity, I have been a guest on TV many times. Then, after a huge breakthrough in my life, I completely switched my professional life from business to becoming a yoga and meditation teacher and an energy healer. So I started hosting yoga classes in person or live on digital platforms.

While all the people around me admired my confidence, I always felt like I was about to faint each time before pressing the “Go Live” button, welcoming my students or starting to speak in public.

I always felt like I didn't deserve that much attention. I was always afraid of making mistakes, of having to repeat myself because of my accent and that nobody would understand me. To make a little parenthesis, all of that I talked about above were always done in another language than my mother tongue which is French. And today, I still fight with myself about my accent, talking with clients, or recording podcasts and guided meditations.

I’m never sure if my ideas and knowledge are worth paying attention to. See, even writing this article makes me wonder… Is it understandable? Is it interesting? Why would anyone read or follow me when there are so many more knowledgeable people than me out there.

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I know I’m not alone struggling with impostor syndrome. If you’re reading these lines, you surely get me.

If you ever felt like you don’t deserve your accomplishments, don’t belong to a certain place, and surely nothing justifies being in the spotlight for your achievements, you are not alone.

But sadly, imposter syndrome is the biggest threat to your career. It can silently keep you stuck where you are. And we don’t want that either, even if we fight with doubts and our feeling of illegitimacy, we just want to get rid of these feelings of inadequacy and fraud.

To our defense, imposter syndrome rarely means a complete lack of confidence, or that we are needy to get validation and more reassurance from others. It just means that you’re afraid of failure.

Behind this fear hides the fact that you genuinely care about what you do. Otherwise, you wouldn’t worry about not being good enough. Does it make sense?

But, if you believe you’re not good enough, you also have a great excuse for not taking action and falling into those negative behaviors of auto-sabotaging we talked about earlier .

When you don’t take action, you can’t fail, isn’t it?

And not failing is good - at least, that’s what we’re taught. And maybe that’s where all the core issues lie…

To come back to my own story, after working on where this impostor syndrome came from I realized that it has been in the making since I was at school.

Despite my successive promotions in my early years of working, where my skills were quickly noticed. Encouraged by my hierarchy, I climbed several levels in a relatively short time. Each successive promotion was a source of anguish for me, because I was convinced that I did not deserve them. Worse, I told myself that my superiors would eventually discover that I was not up to the job and either fire me or make me stagnate. To avoid this, I worked incessantly, doing as much overtime as possible while looking good in all circumstances. But I was always on the alert and in anguish.

On closer inspection, this anguish was not unknown to me. It accompanied me throughout my schooling. I have always been an excellent student with great ease in learning, unlike my sister who had to work hours and hours to obtain less good results. The expectations of those around me were very high. I always had the feeling that I didn't deserve the congratulations of my teachers, because, from my point of view, I never did anything exceptional. Quite simply I was just working and learning and that's why I arrived at the top of the ranking. I was never able to link these results to my own skills. Everything that happened to me resulted from a combination of circumstances, luck, a fortuitous intervention, misunderstanding, a coincidence etc... Despite my faultless journey, I never felt calm and peaceful. I didn't think I deserved the praise of those around me.

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The lack of self-esteem

Most successful people are able to attribute their success to personal merit. They are able to make the connection between their success and their know-how. They are aware of their skills, even if a random part is also taken into consideration. This certainty allows them to have confidence in themselves and to rely on their abilities. They know how to recognize their skills, and the experience acquired confirms them in this sense. But others, like me, like you maybe, have not acquired these certainties. They trivialize their success by considering that everyone could have done what they did.

They minimize their skills, like me, who explains to those around me that, of course, I know the subject of highly sensitive people very well for example, but that there are still a lot of things that I don't know in other domains. So even though I know many things, there are ten billion more that I don’t know anything about. In conclusion, I consider that I don’t know anything! And I'll put a smile on your face when I’ll share with one of my favorite mottos: “All I know is that I know nothing!” When I first read it somewhere years ago, my immediate response: If there's one thing I know for sure, it's exactly this! All I know is that I know nothing. :))))

Do you see how the pressure I put on myself made it impossible to be satisfied with the work I had done? And to be authentic sometimes the impostor syndrome still haunts me.

People who suffer from imposter syndrome know no respite and never feel satisfied with themselves, secure in their talent or skills. They live in a permanent state of tension, which finds no relief.

The suffering associated with the imposter syndrome

During my schooling, I was perceived as a brilliant student. This role of perfect little girl was assigned to me automatically, in view of my school results, and was never discussed or explained. I had to endorse it and continue to be excellent. But the pressure put on me by this selective consideration of my parents hindered my freedom. I had to be this perfect little girl without receiving any encouragement. I knew I would be judged negatively and scolded harshly when I was no longer perfect.

I quickly realized that I had to play the role assigned by my parents and my teachers to please them. Far from reassuring me, it increased my impression of being in a sham. There was a lot of pressure on my shoulders, because I had no right to fail and no other way but to be brilliant. I was forced to succeed while being unable to see myself as a gifted person.

The promotions offered by my superiors would have satisfied many employees, but for me, it was a huge source of anxiety. Unable to recognize and appreciate my talents at their true value, I was unaware that I had many resources. So I couldn't be proud or happy about my promotions, let alone feel valued.

Psychological focus on the imposter syndrome

When those around us are selective about the behaviors we adopt, we quickly realize that, at times, we are accepted, and at other times we are not. We gradually come to adopt the same selective attitude towards ourselves. And often this attitude translates into “not succeeding is not an option", who fights head to head with the feeling that our success is also not valid, that it is only linked to obvious circumstances ("I just worked hard, anyone else would have got the same result”) or external (“it was easy so there is no prowess in what I did, and especially nothing to brag about” or even “without my colleagues, I would have failed”). The consequence of this is that we learn to evaluate ourselves according to the criteria of others, instead of evaluating ourselves according to our own criteria, and especially according to our feelings. We appropriate the scale of values of those around us, assuming they are ours while distancing ourselves from our own real values. As we are not aware of it, we consider that our experiences are in line with our feelings, when in reality, we are responding to a need that is not ours. It is then difficult to feel legitimate, real and sincere.

Break free from imposter syndrome

It is essential for people who suffer from this feeling of imposture to be able to talk about it. This part is often very present in sensitive people, but it is also common in many people. When a person comes to consult me, and raises this subject, I listen to their pain, identify their struggles, and I am also and above all attentive to the voice that sabotages them.

The fact that all of this is evoked and brought to light allows them to feel and understand what is going on inside them. Little by little, a more just and benevolent voice is heard, which allows reconciliation and healing.

Here is an example of exercises we do together that help you define your values. We start by listing the values instilled by your parents. In this list, we note the values to which you adhere, but also those which do not correspond to you or no longer serve you and why. Then we work on those that you would like to acquire and develop, and finally we establish the means to make them more present in your life.


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What is your biggest struggle?

  • Feeling emotionally drained

  • Moving on and letting go

  • Criticism and conflict

  • Being under pressure

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