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The Imposter Within Does Not Have to Win

--Adam Maisen, LPC-S/TA

· Imposter Syndrome

Two colleagues work side by side every day at the same office in the same position. Gina seems to have her life completely together. She is beautiful, poised, and confident. Cynthia wishes she had half of Gina’s charisma and natural ability to lead. All day, Cynthia thinks to herself, Is today the day when people finally discover that I don’t belong here?

Meanwhile, Gina gets into her car at the end of the day thinking, I survived one more day. I am afraid I will be fired tomorrow.

I have come to recognize that all people have insecurities if they are being completely honest. The perception that many have is, “I am not _______________ enough.” You can fill in the blank with anything that fits: pretty, successful, rich, talented, educated, kind, etc. The phenomenon that Gina and Cynthia are experiencing is called imposter syndrome.

What causes imposter syndrome?

External Criticism

Criticism isn’t all bad. Knowing our weaknesses can be one of the first steps toward personal growth.

However, even the most constructive criticism is not enjoyable. Without complete humility, we tend to hate admitting our short-comings or failures. And sometimes, the criticisms of others are not even valid. Regardless of whether the criticism is true or false, we tend to internalize it anyway, feeding our natural insecurities.

Internal Criticism

Sometimes we assume that others are judging us whether they are or not. Even if no one else is judging you, you probably judge yourself. You repeat the script of “I’m not good enough” often enough that it becomes your reality. If you have lived in an environment that was discouraging or frequently harsh, that fed into the narrative, leading you to believe that you are less able to accomplish your goals than other people.

So, what do we do?

We have to start looking at our failures and weaknesses as opportunities for growth. Focusing on weaknesses as unchangeable traits paralyzes us. Instead of thinking “I’m not good enough,” start thinking, “I need to work on this to increase my skills.” Adjust your perspective from “I can’t” to “I have not yet been able to.”

I have never been a big risk taker, especially when it comes to money. If someone had asked me in high school or even college if I would be an entrepreneur, I would have scoffed. Even after a full year in private practice, I have heard myself tell others I am not an entrepreneur. It would be more accurate to say that prior to starting my practice, I had never had much entrepreneurial experience. Stepping out into the unknown was one of the scariest things I have ever done. Through a lot of prayer, self-reflection, the support of my wife, and coaching, I realized that I am more capable than I ever thought I could be.

You do not have to be perfect to be successful. What is holding you back? 

Please leave your thoughts and comments at the bottom of this page!

If you are feeling stuck in imposter syndrome and you are ready to get unstuck, contact me today. I would love to help!

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