How I conquered my imposter and the top three tools I use
Have you ever felt like you’re not good enough?
Like you’re a fraud or you’re going to get found out?
That you’re in a room full of people who are so much better than you?
Well, that is called imposter syndrome and you’re in good company as 70% of us feel like this at some point in our life, with women being much more susceptible to this than men.
So how do you overcome this? Or is this just the way things are always going to be?
I’ve had years of working on overcoming challenges all linked to imposter syndrome and I know I’m not alone! So, I want to share my process for recognising those imposter feelings, acknowledging them for what they are (not true!) and releasing them so you can start confidently and powerfully showing up and serving your audience - elevating your PR and boosting your business to the next level.
First of all, I’ll take you through my journey, and I’m afraid we have to start with the dark to get to the light.
Spiralling to the dark side...
Anxiety, worry and what I now recognise as imposter syndrome is something I really struggled with in my 20s.
I battled with these feelings and emotions for a long time before I got help. I spent a long time not feeling good enough, feeling incredibly on edge and stressed every day. I lived in a spiral of sadness, with my imposter firmly shouting in my ear, although, of course, no one else could hear him.
I loved my job at the time more than anything, but as part of it, I had to work with one incredibly toxic team who used bullying and nastiness as a way to get things done. You can imagine how fragile my mental wellbeing became, feeling vulnerable already and trying to hold it all together, hit ambitious targets and juggle everyone else’s priorities; it all became too much.
I was a shadow of who I was, just hoping to get through each day and crying my way through my life - not nice right! People wondered why I wasn’t super happy and enjoying this life, which, from the outside, looked incredible, but every day felt like climbing a mountain wearing this devil on my back, weighing me down and desperate for me to fall.
Into the light...
It took me a while to recognise what it was which was driving this feeling of inadequacy – I just ‘coped’ with up it, but it was a tough way to live. I can clearly remember my tipping point when things got to such a dark point I knew I needed help.
There was a group of girls at work who I dreaded having to work with, and their venom took its toll, where the imposter was fired up by their spiteful words and actions. (I’m actually grateful to them now, without them I wouldn’t recognise what incredible, inspiring, collaborative and ambitious women look like, and have surrounded myself with them instead of toxic playground bullies - but that’s a story for another time!).
So, finally, I reached out I got some help from the NHS.
Best. Decision. Ever.
I was fortunate enough to be referred to a brilliant psychologist where we did a lot of NLP work, worry and anxiety management, including 1:1 discussions and serious support. Bringing me back to reality, away from the spiralling darkness and equipping me to ignore the ‘noise’ of other people who weren’t adding anything positive, which in turn helped me to master my imposter.
While I don’t profess to be a qualified expert in this field, I do know what works for me and I wanted to share this with you in case it might help others who may be having similar feelings, or who experience them from time to time.
1. Tip one: Let’s get visual
For me, I really benefit from visualising things.
Whenever any feelings of doubt crept in, I visualised a dark little devil sitting on my right shoulder. He tells me the things that keep me safe, doesn’t stretch me or put me in the way of danger. He’s that voice that says “Don’t do that because something bad will happen” or “You can’t do that”. By visualising him and giving him a persona, it really helped me recognise what was going on and helped me stop him in his tracks.
In contrast to the little devil (the imposter syndrome), I also have my angel sitting on my left shoulder. She is full of light and positivity, and whispers “You can do this, give it a go, what’s the worst that can happen”, “you’re going to be good at this, you’ve got all this experience, you’ve done all these things…use them!” I visualise her as having warmth and energy.
Both of these personas have very different voices and agendas, both make me feel and act very differently. But the process I use when I hear these voices is the same:
Recognise: Firstly, I recognise whose voice it is. Is it the imposter devil or my positive angel?
Acknowledge: Then I acknowledge what they are saying to me. Is it useful, accurate, worth listening to?
Release: Finally it's about releasing. I choose not to listen to the negative voice if he’s whispering unhelpful things, releasing his negativity, and only take on board what the angel says to me.
Here’s how I release. I use an NLP technique which taught me to visualise a huge stop sign as soon as I recognise the little devil’s words. I visualise putting it in front of him. He can’t get over it, under it…and he’s definitely not getting through it! (You can also use this for any worrying thoughts if they are unwarranted. Extreme worry can be classified into different types. I fell into the catastrophising category; where all my thoughts would snowball into a catastrophic state, so being able to stop them in their tracks was super powerful.)
This is something you need to keep working on as the imposter naturally can come back from time to time, but when it does, I still use this same technique, even now.
If you’re not a visual person, perhaps try writing the thoughts down then physically throwing them away, or using another powerful stop word which resonates with you. Just keep trying different techniques until you find one that works for you as there is a way you can lead a life without your own little devil on your shoulder. I’d also encourage you to welcome your angel’s voice and all the positive thinking surrounding that - visualise all the things you can achieve and start believing in yourself. After all, what you believe is what you can achieve.
2. Tip two: The worry journal
Another technique which worked wonders for helping me manage feelings of anxiety and worry was a ‘worry journal’. You only need to spend 10-15mins a day writing down and ‘brain-dumping’ all the things that worry you - it’s a purposeful, allocated time for worry, so don’t go over the time slot.
All worriers know that once you start worrying about one thing it can easily spiral to create other worries. Allocating a set time is really powerful as you’re recognising those feelings, you’re acknowledging them but you’re not letting them control you, and you’re releasing them by getting them out of your head so they aren’t whirring around and getting jumbled with reality.
You are taking back the power of how you feel, act and think - and that is the key to stepping up and showing up powerfully to your audience.
3. Tip three: Flip reverse it…
This leads me nicely on how to flip the imposter and turn those negative thoughts into positive questions that you could use to your advantage. For example, if you hear him saying “You can’t do this” change this to “How can I make this happen?”
You owe it to yourself, your clients, and future clients to show up and share your expertise. Only by stepping out of your comfort zone will you create a new comfort zone and edge closer to your goals.
Once you quieten those imposter syndrome thoughts, and you step into your zone of genius, and start really showing up as the expert in your field, you will become that credible voice that people turn to - and that’s what we want!
Quietening that voice of self-doubt will build the vital foundations needed for positive PR. I’m here to help you show up as an authority, as an expert, and to feel super confident on your channels – media relations, social media, blogs, e-news and more - which I know you can do!
All of these things will benefit from you working on yourself, in order to share your message with the world. I certainly wouldn’t have had the confidence to establish Garnet PR without harnessing the power of positive thinking and overcoming my imposter.
So, what are you waiting for?
Let’s start this journey together right now…
Experiencing bouts of imposter syndrome is entirely normal and natural, some people are more susceptible than others, but know that you are not alone! We usually hear his little growling voice when we’re stretching ourselves out of our comfort zones, so it can be seen as a good sign.
Let’s get some positivity rolling. Either at the bottom of this blog or by direct message, I encourage you to share:
What are the five things that make you special?
What is the story behind you and your brand?
What can you share that makes you an expert in your field?
I’d love you to share these, or if sharing isn't your thing write them down just for you. Putting them out into the universe gives them power.
I hope this helps a few of you out there if you’re struggling with the same thoughts as I once did – you’re not alone and you can change, manage and overcome your imposter, if you’re willing to work at it.
If you want to chat about this, or anything else, pop me a message,