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When what others see doesn’t match how you are feeling

Nell looked the part. Well groomed, wearing a beautiful expensive suit, elegant high heels and blond highlights in a well coiffured bob against the background of a classical green front door of one of those listed houses in the suburbs of London.

The picture of a successful woman, who is leading a great life.

That’s the picture. But what is the story?

Nell is posh. She went to an all-girls boarding school, then attended university abroad and married a wealthy property guy. They had three children who are now all living their lives away from home and Nell, who had always worked part-time, is now holding down a full time job.  She is very good at it.

But the picture we see of Nell is only a part of her. The other part is carefully hidden and the only who knows it is Nell herself.

What is the hidden part?

Her secret companion is a little creepy monster, sitting on her shoulder invisible for the world, and continuously whispering at her, making her feel bad about herself, stressing her out, forcing her to walk on eggshells and keeping her awake at night.

The monster tells her that she made a mistake. “You could have done better. Oh, look at your colleagues, they are so clever. One day they will find out you are actually not that good.”

This creepy monster has a name: Imposter Syndrome.

It is very common, especially amongst women, and one of those ‘let’s not talk about it’ subjects.

Where does it come from?

Imposter Syndrome is an expression of lack in confidence, which is rooted in a poor relationship with the self. The imposter or pretender is looking for external validation, but when that is given it has a negative impact. Instead of embracing it and using it to validate themselves, they use it to undermine themselves and their confidence even more. Read more about external vs internal validation.

What triggers Imposter Syndrome?

  • Being raised in a family that highly values achievement – fuelling the feeling of incompetence towards high expectations
  • Receiving both praise and criticism for similar achievements – fuelling confusing, because how can you do both at the same time? It clouds the judgement
  • Entering a new role or new circumstances – no one might have voiced expectations, but change always has an element of fear for the not knowing, which can be translated in the need to perform exceptionally well
  • Being around people who have high expectations – always fighting to fulfil those expectations

How to deal with your Imposter Syndrome?

  • Don’t try to ignore the voice, face it full-on
  • Your IS monster is talking to you as an authority. Are you responding as a child? If so, step into your adult to dismantle the power of the authority
  • Start a dialogue and continue a conversation
  • Don’t think black and white. Making one mistake or being less perfect doesn’t make you useless at your job
  • Find rational proof that IS got it wrong
  • Wave goodbye to the monster

Want to know if you are suffering from Imposter Syndrome? Click here to receive the questionnaire that will give you clarity.

Dr Mariette Jansen – Dr De-Stress – is a life coach, meditation teacher, EFT therapist, award winning blogger and expert in helping women to understand how they get in the way of their own happiness and how to make changes to become happy, stop anxiety and build confidence.

www.drdestress.co.uk       email: mariette@drdestress.co.uk

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