Author: Lindsey Hood
On Thursday 14th March I delivered a workshop on Imposter Syndrome for some amazing women in the Women Who Do network. I had shared previously my self-doubts when I was originally asked to do the workshop. I had spent weeks developing an interactive workshop - designing a balance of information, self-awareness exercises, sharing of strategies, and allowing time to think about implementation of the ideas into daily life. I was feeling pretty confident that I was going to deliver an interesting and helpful evening to attendees.
When I arrived at the Docks Coffee Shop, Emma told me the event was sold out! For many this may have been a confidence boost but for me, as someone who still struggles with my own imposter syndrome, I had a slight falling feeling in my stomach at this news. My naysayer self doubting voice quickly took charge with the ever encouraging questions of “What if you can’t help them?” “What if they are disappointed in you and you waste their evening?” “What if you can’t answer a question they ask?”
I know the techniques and I have the strategies that work for me that help to put these things in check fairly quickly (more on these in a second!), but that ‘gut reaction’ or initial response is that I still very much identify myself as an imposter in a field I have trained, qualified and spent years working in, with lots of experience (and testimonials) to back up that I can help. Even writing this, I can see how silly it is but it doesn’t stop that this is my immediate mind retort.
So, the quick techniques and strategies I used on myself when the self-doubt and nerves kicked in were…
Taking a second to breathe deeply, stand tall and hold my head high (please watch the amazing Ted Talk by Amy Cuddy for more details on why this simple technique really works!)
Reminding myself why I was capable of delivering this workshop: I have delivered similar presentations before with very positive feedback; I know about imposter syndrome due to intensive study and research; I have experience of coaching amazing women to achieve fantastic results in their lives; I have prepared and practised for this workshop. Rather than just positive affirmations of ‘I can do this’, I find using the Mel Robbins technique of reminding myself, using my own evidence of past achievements, of why I can do this is more empowering.
Fast forward through the evening: although giving workshops isn’t my most comfortable state, I do love them. I love interacting with the audience and seeing how different people connect with different ideas and strategies - we are all different so it is great when individuals find those nuggets of information that really resonate with them. There was lots of concentrating, note taking, conversations and questions, deep discussions on different areas. I received lovely feedback and lots of comments about how the information I had shared is going to be taken forward by these amazing women. I left on cloud-nine!
I wish this was ‘the end’ - but the following morning I woke up with a sense of unease as the first thought in my head was “What if everyone was just being nice?” Why?! Why was I doing this to myself? I went to bed on a total high from the workshop and somehow woke up with self doubt and feelings of being an imposter again!
I spoke in the workshop about receiving compliments and that they are a gift that people offer to you - they don’t have to say anything if they don’t want to. The fact the participants took the time to thank me and share their stories is actual evidence that there was a positive impact. I knew I was letting FEAR (False Evidence Appearing Real) hijack me! Working on my own mindset is still a daily practice and keeping vigilant of my own thoughts, so I can challenge them when they are less than useful, is important. I haven’t found a way to stop the self doubt, but I am using strategies to notice and acknowledge it when it happens and consciously decide to reframe my thoughts to something that is more resourceful for me.
I wish there was a ‘silver bullet’ that would mean we overcome imposter syndrome once and full all, and always felt confident - and, believe me when I say I am constantly looking into ideas and research on confidence and you will be the first to know if I find it! So, at this time, it is about finding the strategies that work for you that you can easily use in your daily life that help keep your confidence high in the different situations you are facing into, and to quickly identify and put any nagging self doubts into check.
We would love for you to share your successes on this topic!
Lindsey is a professional life and executive coach who specialises in working with amazing women who secretly struggle with imposter syndrome to help you feel genuinely confident in your own unique awesomeness!