What is the Imposter Syndrome costing you?



In the previous ‘article’ I talked about the impact of the imposter syndrome lying in the way we respond to it. The price we pay is a direct result of the behaviours we engage in to protect ourselves.

Here are a few ideas to get you thinking about what price you might have paid for feeling like an imposter from time to time.

  1. If we withhold ourselves and our ideas, we may be missing out on career or life opportunities, on relationships of true connection, on adventures, on going with our flow. In this same vein, we may put on the mask to hide our imperfections, yet those parts of us can be what other people find attractive. And it’s tough to hold a mask in place permanently.
  2. If  you take things personally and become defensive, it is challenging to grow as a human being. We each have a blind spot – those parts of us that others can see and we are unaware of – and we need to be open to the feedback of others, or to reecognising and interpreting events around us and our part in them in order to shine a light on that blind spot. We can find it difficult to take performance feedback at work, to hear what an intimate partner is saying about your interactions. We can become prickly, interpreting everything as relating back to us. From this space, we can be difficult to be around.
  3. We can drive ourselves into the ground, thinking everything must be perfect. I must be the perfect partner, the perfect manager and leader, the perfect mother, the perfect housewife or house husband, the perfect … you name it. From this space, we can create such stress for ourselves. And when we fall short – as we inevitably will – we beat ourselves up embedding the feeling of not being good enough.
  4. We can give up who we are in order to be like everyone else … and that’s impossible! We are who we are and that is enough. From this space we put on our camouflage and hide or downplay our true talents, our true capabilities just so we can belong.
  5. We may live under the radar, wanting to be noticed (significance) however fearing being noticed in case we’re judged and found wanting. We may be the perfect partner and mother in the background. We may bury our heads at work refusing to participate in what goes on around us, yet hoping or believing that someone will notice how good we are at what we do. You may have noticed, though, it doesn’t happen often, particularly if those we’re working with are similarly impacted by the imposter syndrome.
  6. When driven by perfection, we may have a strong internal critic that constantly berates us – and others – for failing to be perfect rather than focus on what we (or they) have achieved or can deliver. We may alienate others or make them feel uncomfortable by constantly judging – or being ‘critical parent’. We may come across as arrogant – judgement and righteousness have a look and sound, have you noticed? We certainly impact morale and motivation around us.
  7. We may react to the feeling of not being good enough by pushing through it, suppressing the feeling, fixing our eyes firmly on the goal and simply doing whatever we have to in order to get there; to prove to ourselves and others that we are good enough. In doing so, we may disregard the costs and consequences to ourselves, others and to our family or organisation in doing so. the other price we may pay is the extreme stress of keeping our secret ‘ that we aren’t good enough and if others could see us as we do, we’d be forcibly ejected from our successful roles’. With these behaviours, though, often the price is paid by others.


Bottom line …

However we play out the Imposter Syndrome, essentially, we lose sight of who we are. In the words of Nathaniel Hawthorne:

Hawthorne quote on authenticity

Next:  What lies beyond the grip of the Imposter Syndrome?

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