Have you ever questioned your abilities, even when others seem to praise you on them? Have you ever kept your talents and gifts hidden because you didn’t think that stood up and didn’t want to come across as a “fraud”? If you answered yes, then you are certainly not alone. Since the first article on Imposter Syndrome in 1978, many people have felt inadequate or doubtful of their abilities. But who is the “imposter”?
Who is the Imposter?
The Imposter Syndrome is not recognized as any kind of disease or mental disorder, however it can be described as a type of dis-ease. In other words, a discomfort or awkwardness one might feel when you doubt your capabilities. It is also when you don’t think your skills and abilities stack up against the rest, and worry you don’t belong among such “great ones”. Imposter syndrome is mostly found among high-achievers who are driven in most areas and yet hide their truth. It might also be experienced by those who feel pressured to always have to prove themselves to others, justify their actions or are stuck in a perpetuating cycle of perfectionism and procrastination.
Getting Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable
I was recently at a 3-day conference collaborating with people I felt were in the “big leagues”. I’m talking about people who shared stages with Les Brown, T.J. Eckhart, Wayne Dyer and had Jack Canfield in their summits for example. What the hell was I doing there?! I showed up on day one feeling ready to learn and observe and then once asked to introduce myself and speak in a breakout room, I immediately felt like a dear caught in the headlights. For a moment I lost a grip on everything I thought I knew and trembled. This was WAY out of my comfort zone.
We all yearn to feel seen and heard and yet we emotionally fear it. Especially when we don’t feel we measure up to others. We may be strong in what we do and who we are, and yet vulnerable when we begin to express it “out there”. It is also our beliefs that can really trip us up and thoughts that come through, sometimes at lightening speed, that can distract us from our truth. This is often accompanied by social anxiety. There may also be fear of being of “found out”-that maybe you don’t have certification and degrees that add to your credibility, even though you still carry a lot of wisdom, knowledge, and experience.
When I gathered myself and looked at my beliefs and reeled in my thoughts, I stopped trembling. I remembered I was at that conference to cultivate community and connection. To open my heart and mind so that I can gather with others who are courageous enough to put there work out there. Who were on a similar mission to help others succeed and live more fulfilling lives.
You see, when I held that truth in front of me, I knew I would not get lost. I knew that we all had the same mission to join together, collaborate, and see how we can support each other in our work. The experience also reminded me of a quote by Vincent Van Gogh- “If you hear a voice inside your head that says you are not a painter, then by all means paint! Then that voice will be silenced”. Show up. Be you. Be present with what is right there in front of you, and rise up with what is inside of you.
Move beyond any shadow of doubt and fear of not being good enough. When you feel like you don’t belong or are not capable, you keep yourself small. You may even keep yourself hidden. You deny yourself and others the opportunity to shine.
When you step out of the darkness into the light, others around you become illuminated. You start recognizing how you can offer acts of service, rather than being in service to your ego. Shine your light and in the fullness of who you are, without shame.
By taking a compassionate approach to service, you can heal shame. “Shame” is the one who can be described as the “imposter” that was internalized at some earlier point in your life. Perhaps there are times when you truly don’t belong. You might find yourself in a crowd you don’t resonate with. Maybe they are better than you, maybe not. Ego always likes to compare. Soul always likes to find a way to connect. Decide which is going to lead.
If you feel you might suffer from Imposter Syndrome, you may experience low self-esteem or low self-worth. An antidote to that is spiritual sovereignty. Remember your Divine nature. Remember that you came here to experience what it is like being human, and that first and foremost you are a spiritual being. There are many ways to keep your spirit intact and you can check out my article on the importance of soul care for some tips on how to do that.
A lot of people still gravitate toward Marianne Williamson’s quote (sometimes attributed to Nelson Mandela) that states, “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? “
My interpretation of this is that we will fear our own intuitive guidance because by its very nature, it directs us into new cycles of growth that are sometimes uncomfortable. Empowerment is being in a place of authenticity and walking your path with integrity. It is staying true to yourself and your values.
Shine Your Light
When you are questioning your abilities and capacity, you underestimate your potency. Step up and accept and express yourself and what you stand for! Authenticity is your superpower.
Shift from improving yourself to knowing yourself. Allow your true self to emerge as you let go of fear, shame, guilt and any feelings of unworthiness. Stop doubting your abilities and trust what you know is enough. Own what you know, and don’t brush it off as pure “luck”.
So while Imposter Syndrome is not a recognizable illness or mental disorder, is is a real thing. However, the question remains, “Who is the imposter”?
Known as, “The Soul Illuminator”, Jennifer Regular specializes in helping Thought Leaders, Creatives and Visionaries direct the life they live so they can create global impact, make the impossible possible, and fulfill their life mission. She is an International Speaker, Author of Embrace Your Power: A Healing Journal of Self-Discovery, and the Host of Wise Woman Wednesdays and the Wisdom Speakers & Seekers Podcast.