Are you an imposter and lack confidence? How To Get Rid of Impostor Syndrome and Make Confidence a Habit says that, “In most cases, imposter syndrome starts with a feeling of inadequacy or unworthiness.” And that “There are methods to train your mind and regain your confidence.” The article begins with usual ways of building confidence, such as earning respect, increasing productivity, being a positive influence, and standing out in a crowd. I was about to stop reading when it quickly shifted to point out that success can breed imposter syndrome. Okay, now you’ve got my attention. 

All this focus on respect, productivity, and standing out are external references for our identity, worthiness, and value. Ultimately they seem to lead to being a workaholic, constantly busy to prove our worthiness to ourselves and others. 

Then the article provided three helpful steps that we can begin to take to really make a shift. Here they are: 

Step 1 – Own Your Narrative: 

The article suggests asking ourselves questions to build self-awareness. The question that stood out to me as the most important was: “What are your core values and principles?”

I’ve found that one of the most difficult aspects of dealing with stress is indecisiveness. Core values and principles inform us immediately how we’ll make decisions every time we encounter stress. That speeds decision-making. Knowing our values means we have self-awareness. Making decisions based on our values, over time, creates our narrative. That consistency builds ownership. 

Step 2 – Use Thoughts, Language and Body Language to Your Advantage:

The article suggests changing thought patterns, which can lead to changing our mindset. Probably the biggest shift for changing thoughts is to think of problems as opportunities for learning. Add to that a habit of maintaining proper posture and we’ll use our mind and body to our advantage. 

Step 3 – Stop Comparing Yourself With Others:

We can’t completely eliminate our tendency to compare ourselves to others. It’s actually useful, if we do it to identify a standard we want to emulate. The article points out how we think others aren’t struggling like we are. Then it gives us another important shift to make: from external to internal. This shift grounds us in an internal locus of control. “If you depend on internal validation,” the article states “you can better be in control of how you feel about yourself. Relying on external validation and using other people’s opinions to dictate your abilities is a sure-fire way to feeling bad about yourself.” 

I like the article’s concluding point: “While it is natural for even the best to make mistakes, it is important to see them as learning opportunities and not get demotivated. By reframing your thoughts and actions, you can deal with imposter syndrome effectively.” Mistakes are necessary. I’m constantly paying attention to reframing my mistakes, seeing them as necessary. That helps me actually enjoy the learning opportunities more and sustaining my motivation as I process myself through them. 

A final point–a half-step–about imposter syndrome is one of separating identity from outcome. Much of this article points us in that direction. I’d like to make this explicit. Owning our narrative, using our mind and body effectively, and shifting to an internal locus of control all facilitate separating identity from outcome. The article began with the assertion that imposter syndrome starts with a feeling of unworthiness. If we simply note whether or not we feel more or less worthwhile after creating an outcome, then we can have self awareness to diminish the imposter that hides with us. Remember, it’s both feeling worthwhile and feeling worthless that lead to imposter syndrome.

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. matteo

    outcomes and identity…how much grounded/centered people are out there that are not struggling with this!? 😉 ..thanks for sharing this…

    1. Arno

      Seems like a matter of degree, Matteo, doesn’t it? We can work, maybe even “play,” our way toward more authenticity. a

  2. Dave Pfurr

    It seems to me that the more I am focused on the quality of my efforts, the less I am aware of thoughts of outcomes AND comparisons with others. So, to me that is at the core of the Warrior’s Way–focusing on the process, not the outcome.

    1. Arno

      On target Dave. One thing to keep in mind is the both/and nature of this. We both value the goal/achievement and we value the process. It’s a matter of knowing where you are. “Am I stopped and thinking about setting goals?” This gives us vision and direction, something specific to work toward. Or, “Am I engaged in the process of doing the work?” This shifts our attention to valuing and enjoying the work moment to moment. You can see how this fits into climbing. You pick a specific route YOU want to climb. That gives you direction: I’m getting on that climb! Then, as you step onto it, you focus on and enjoy the process. a

  3. David A Sampson

    Arno;
    Thank-you for sharing these thoughts. I have been following your blog for several years (here I assume that it is actually a blog, and not something else). I do believe that this post has moved me in ways that others have not; I have to wonder if most live with an imposter syndrome. I know I have since childhood. “Overcoming” thoughts such as “I am out of my league here” or “I am not deserving of this” begins with recognizing that thoughts are internal stories; fiction (i.e., made up). Regardless of where imposter syndrome is rooted (I sometimes wonder where), one can move forward by recognizing that we can adapt our perceptions, and create new thoughts that are more in line with our objectives; with who we want to be.

    1. Arno

      Hi David. Thanks for your thoughts. I do believe we all suffer to some degree with imposter syndrome. We’re trained early in our lives to develop an ego that sees ourselves as separate. That separateness leads to prove we are valid to exist, belong, be worthy. So, bringing awareness to this whole process is key. The main thing is to know that such thoughts are only thoughts. So, it’s not so much to change thoughts but to deal with them from the perspective of awareness. Kinda like smiling when you catch such a thought and saying, “Thanks for sharing. Now let’s focus on the task.” a

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