Do you feel like an imposter?

Many women leaders and entrepreneurs suffer from Imposter Syndrome. I define Imposter Syndrome as holding the limiting belief that if others knew the real you, they wouldn’t love or respect you as much.

If you have Imposter Syndrome, you believe that you don’t quite measure up to others, and you have a subsequent feeling of insecurity.

Even women who appear very well put together often believe that if others really knew the true them, they wouldn’t be seen as good enough. Hence, they feel like imposters, fakes and/or frauds.

Today’s blog covers the cause of and seven signs/symptoms of Imposter Syndrome to raise self-awareness. Next week’s blog (part II) will cover how to overcome it. 

The topic of Imposter Syndrome is important because it really holds you back from being as happy, healthy and successful as you could be. It limits your positive impact on others too.

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Understanding Imposter Syndrome

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Cause of Imposter Syndrome

In order to understand what causes Imposter Syndrome, you have to understand how your limiting beliefs are formed.

You have a Conscious Mind (EGO) and a Subconscious Mind (SUB). If you think of an iceberg, the EGO is the part of the iceberg that lies above the water line. It’s your aware thoughts, your analytical and judgmental mind.

The SUB mind is the part of the iceberg below the water line, making up about 95% of your mind, which you’re often not aware of.  Your beliefs and emotions are housed in the SUB. You can also think of the SUB as the body or heart. It responds with lightning speed to keep you alive. The SUB breathes for you and runs all of your bodily organs.

The EGO is Created to Serve as a Filter

The EGO mind is created when you’re about 8 years old, and so up until then, you don’t have a filter. You absorb life experiences and interpret their meaning as a child would, which is often an inaccurate perception that doesn’t serve you..

So if something happens when you’re a child, and you interpret the event falsely, it becomes a limiting belief that can stick around forever if you don’t shift it.

Example of How a Limiting Belief is Formed

Imagine you’re 6 years old. You are excited to play tag with your friends. As you approach the giggling group, you hear them making fun of you. They abruptly stop talking as soon as they notice you. You feel ashamed and want to run and hide, thinking, “What’s wrong with me? I don’t fit in here.”
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Your subconscious mind decides at that moment that in order to keep you safe, you need to pretend to be someone different in order to fit in. So, over time, you learn to crack jokes and over-give to others in order to belong and win their love and approval.

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7 Signs of Imposter Syndrome

The only reason you’d feel like an Imposter is because you’ve been hiding your true self due to shame. You’ve been wearing a mask to prevent others from knowing the real you. Here are some signs that you’re wearing this mask of insecurity.

1. Bragging. If you or others brag, it’s a sign of insecurity. And where there is insecurity, the imposter syndrome isn’t far away. This is not the same as healthy confidence and knowing your strengths. Ironically, if you are secure, you don’t need to brag.

2. Comparing. If you hear another person praised, you feel bad about yourself because you’ve been comparing your inner worth to their outer outcomes. Because you’re already starting with the belief that you’re not good enough, it’s a natural habit to compare yourself.

3. Gossiping. If you feel jealous of another person, or ignored, unseen, unheard or not acknowledged by them, or you feel you’ve been done wrong by them, you may gossip about them to bring them down a notch and to make you feel better.

4. Blaming.  When you feel insecure, which is a normal aspect of the Imposter Syndrome, there is a tendency to blame others for how you feel and not take personal responsibility.

5. Exaggerating.  When you feel insecure, you tend to exaggerate or embellish the truth, to get the adrenalin rush of the shock factor, making you feel important.

6. Lying. You will find it difficult to be honest and forthright with others because part of you doesn’t feel worthy of asking for your needs to be met. So you’ll tell people what they want to hear so they’ll like you and give you what you want. Or you believe you’ll escape their judgment and criticism.

7. Manipulating. You have hidden resentments towards others for not treating you as you believe you deserve. So you display passive aggressive behaviors as a result. Rather than asking for what you need and appearing “clingy” (being passive), you make underhanded comments to get revenge (being aggressive).

The Impact of Imposter Syndrome 

When you feel insecure in who you are and try to cover it up through the seven signs stated above, it has a significant, negative impact on your personal and professional growth.

People will intuitively know that your words are incongruent, not in alignment with, your energy or behavior. They will FEEL it, and they won’t trust you to lead them or be in relationship with them.

Ironically, if you are suffering from Imposter Syndrome, you’ll want more than anything to connect with others. Yet the dishonesty implicit in Imposter Syndrome will prevent healthy, long-term connection.

Conclusion

It’s important to be aware of Imposter Syndrome. If you suffer from Imposter Syndrome, you feel unsafe to allow others to know the real you. It causes you to wear a mask and engage in bragging, comparing, gossiping, blaming, exaggerating, lying and manipulating behaviors.

These behaviors hurt your relationships because when you don’t trust yourself, others won’t either.  Next week look for Part II, in which you’ll discover strategies to overcome Imposter Syndrome and techniques for building self-confidence.

Much Love,
Angie Monko,
Life Coach for Intuitive Women Leaders