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Imposter Syndrome: feeling like you want to fit in but don’t belong? It’s time to update your story.

Imposter syndrome is a term that I have noticed, is becoming more common lately. This article describes it as “a psychological phenomenon in which people are unable to see their own accomplishments, dismissing them as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be”. I have noticed it with my clients, often when they have experienced a period of rapid professional development and growth and when they are new to a role.

The article above provides some great tips on how to deal with this feeling and I am not going to go into them here. What I am going to talk about are our stories that we tell both ourselves and others. I have noticed that when we don’t update our stories to match the reality it can result in the feeling of not deserving and not being good enough.

So what do I mean by not matching reality? Some examples could be:

  • Being new in a role, on a steep learning curve, feeling self-conscious and relying on others for information, advice and assistance. Once the role is familiar and you are competent, continuing to believe and say that people think you don’t know what you are doing, or telling yourself and others that you don’t really know what you are doing.
  • Still feeling like a graduate straight from University, sometimes years and many roles afterwards.
  • Being a novice at a skill and representing yourself as a novice sometimes years later when there is evidence to the contrary – even after being complemented on the skill!

The last one was me a couple of weeks ago. I often coach clients around this issue and you will often hear me say that it’s important to update your stories. And here I was having not done that myself! And because I am aware of this concept I noticed that as soon as I had said it and have now changed my story.

So the reason for this post is to raise your awareness and to ask you:

  • What stories are you telling yourself and other people that no longer match your reality? Bring this question to the front of your mind as you travel through the rest of the week.
  • What do you notice? It might help to keep a journal of what you notice.
  • When you find a story that doesn’t match ask yourself:
  • How is this impacting on me?
  • What do I need to change it to?
  • What is getting in the way of me changing it?
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