Thursday, October 13, 2011

Tips for Dealing With Impostor Syndrome

Yesterday, I blogged about something I have been dealing with. My Impostor Syndrome. For me, it's a voice that makes me feel incompetent, useless, and is very destructive to my self-esteem.

In researching for these posts, I found one statement that truly encapsulates how it feels for me.

In her mind she believes it's only a matter of time before everyone discovers that she's "faking it."

Faking it in my professional career, in my relationship with my spouse, with my teaching and nurturing of my children, as a blogger, as someone who is fixing their financial mishaps, as member of several families, as a member of society in general. Ya see how this can grow to toxic levels for my self-esteem?

There may be a gender issue at work here too. Men are more likely to attribute their success to internal factors (their ability and effort) and their failure to external factors (task difficulty and luck), whereas women are more likely to attribute their success to external factors and their failure to internal factors. Men are able to boast of their accomplishments and skills, and women typically do not. Are differences in hormone levels a factor also? I believe there could be.

How do I deal with it all? How can a person who feels like a fraud hope to bring themselves out of that kind of self-destructive thinking?

Firstly, recognition of Impostor feelings when they happen is key, and knowing when it goes from Impostor feeling to becoming completely toxic. Stop it dead in its tracks. Reminding myself that I am a worthy person who has come from difficult circumstances and bettered herself, by herself, in order to be where she is today.

I'm learning to separate feeling from facts. Just because I feel like a fraud as a blogger, does not change the fact that I do blog, therefore I am a blogger. I'm no J.D Roth from Get Rich Slowly or Trent from The Simple Dollar but I am a blogger.
Same goes with our finances. We haven't gotten it all down pat yet. We are not out of debt yet, nor are we perfect with our savings, but we are trying, and getting a bit better at it every day and every year.

Rewrite your mental script; If your Impostor is telling you that you don't deserve to hold the position you are in, or to have accomplished something, tell yourself and that stupid voice exactly why you are worthy and the work you have done to get where you are.

Talking about your feelings is always of great help, especially to me. Talking things through with others is one of the ways that I learn to cope, and it helps to know that I am not alone, that others struggle with this too.

Consider the context, the surroundings and the circumstances that surround the Impostor feelings. I find I have these feelings often when there is stress at work, and usually something that I have no control over in the first place.

Seek support. My family and friends (both RL and online) are invaluable to me. They are my greatest cheerleaders and often see the success in things I do that I cannot see for myself sometimes.

Be kind to yourself. Remind yourself of your good qualities; kindness, loving, caring, etc. Know that when people smile at you, it is almost always genuine, and with good reason.

I will continue to struggle with this, for many reasons that would take to long to explain here, but I am learning to cope. I think that it ties in to my procrastination tendencies also. I tend to want everything done 'perfectly' in my way of thinking, and if I can't, I will put off doing anything. These are the reasons why I never contributed to an RRSP until last year. It's also why I struggle with budgeting. If I can't do it right, I won't do it.

I'll leave it to you at this point? Do you struggle with this also? Tell me about your experiences please.


  1. Oh Eboo! I completely agree with you and empathize with you on this topic and what a great topic too discuss so thanks for bringing this up to readers! I feel this way as well for many different reasons, but like you said this is the most wonderful part of life - loving family and friends that are great at helping to keep the nasty voices at bay, and instead try and concentrate on all the good things - there are always good things my dear...I really think gender has a lot to do with it and vanishing the negative thoughts away as quickly as possible (Stop and Block) technique for negative thoughts are good and I think even a walk around the block does wonders for your mind and body...thanks again! xo

  2. I agree with you 100%. I keep waiting for someone to jump up in class at school and say "excuse me buy Judy should not be in the RN program she is way to old and has no idea what she is doing". But I just press on because it is all I can do.

    Even with blogging, there was a stretch where I worried that I people thought what I was writting was dumb and not useful(still feel that way sometimes) but then I realized that I started this blog for me and I like it.

    I for one do not think you are an impostor I think your blog and you are great!


  3. I've never thought about it as something you could label, but I totally identify with some of the things you said. That feeling that at any moment someone could call you out and say "hey! we don't actually want/need/like you" hovers in the back of my mind more often than I'd like to admit.

    Thank you for taking the time to talk about it, and explain it in such detail.. It's hard to talk about those silent battles we sometimes face, and I really value your bravery on this one.

    My roomie and I trade affirmations by text message sometimes. Here's one of my favourites:
    "You are worth of all the good things life has to offer"