Imposter Syndrome is something that many of us women don’t talk openly about. There are so many negative beliefs that we come up against, especially while we scroll on social media. I can think of four times I need to overcome imposter syndrome:
- When I started a private practice in the States at the young age of 27.
- When my husband and I moved from the States to Germany and was learning everything from the beginning again.
- When I decided to take what I teach in my counseling practice into an online format as courses and live workshops.
- When The Boston Consulting Group hired me to lead workshops for their working parents on better work/life balance.
I like to think of it as feeling like a mouse in an elephant costume! Imposter Syndrome can attack any part of our life…personal (self, marriage, motherhood) and even our professional life as well.
No matter what chapter or phase we are in our lives, imposter syndrome happens on a regular basis. Here are my 4 strategies to use next time you feel imposter syndrome creeping in.
1. Use the foundation that’s already laid
Imposter syndrome sneaks up on us the most when we are making shifts in our lives:
- Starting a new job or changing jobs
- Moving to a new city or country
- Having your first, second, or even third kid (so me!)
- Shifting into a new career field
- Joining a group where you are not fully sure if you fit in
When we make these shifts in our lives, it feels like we’re starting from scratch, and we start to question our abilities, especially as working moms. Remember that you’ve already laid the groundwork and foundation with your past experiences. You are going through a rite of passage when you experience imposter syndrome. Be practical and use what you’ve learned in your childhood, school, and previous work skills to confidently climb the mountain before you. You’ve done it before. You can do it again.
2. Stop focusing on your limitations and inexperience
When we’re considering changing gears in our lives, it is natural for us to set limiting beliefs on ourselves. Because let’s face it, when something looks different, it’s scary! Our natural instinct is for us to stay “safe” and “comfortable.” So many times these shifts that we’re thinking about making are far from that. It’s important to remember that by default you will begin to think of all the reasons you shouldn’t be making this shift and why you aren’t good enough or experienced enough. When this happens, be sure to change your perspective and switch the conversation in your head. Look at what you will learn from the experience and think about what you can bring to it as well. We all have skills and capabilities, whether we allow ourselves to see them or not. You will grow so much faster from the experience by going into it interested in learning versus assuming you should already know what to do.
3. Don’t fight it..accept and adapt
As scary as it is to make these big moves in our lives, it also means that you’re growing. You’re doing something different, open to new experiences, and with all of that comes GROWTH! You know I am all about us growing in our lives! So remember that having imposter syndrome is normal, and many times it means that you’re on the verge of something great. Instead of fearing it, work on accepting and adapting. Visualize the end goal. See yourself as the new you after going through the uncomfortable change. This will keep you focused on accepting and adapting as well.
4. Figure it out as you go
When speaking to clients and students in different seasons of their lives, I’ve found that imposter syndrome is the most impactful because we feel like we’re starting over and have to learn new skills. This often stops us dead in our tracks. The best thing I’ve found to do in this situation is to change your vocabulary. When your vocabulary shifts from ‘I don’t feel competent’ to ‘Let me become competent,’ then you feel less like an imposter. Do you need to read a book, listen to a podcast, take a course, or talk to someone who’s been where you are going to feel more prepared? Then do it! When we learned how to ride a bike, it was trial and error and frankly no book or pep talk prepares you for jumping on the bike and trying it out. Sometimes we just have to figure it out as we go.
Remember, it takes shifts and time for growth to happen and this is a normal part of life. Don’t let imposter syndrome stop you from making these moves in your life. Instead, use the proper tools to start changing the narrative in your mind! You can overcome imposter syndrome, just like I did!