Imposter Syndrome: Wouldn’t it be great if you could just snap your fingers and get over it already?!
Many women in our network struggle to overcome imposter syndrome. Even our seasoned executives occasionally wrestle with the sinking feeling they don’t belong in the room. We would give anything to provide that one silver bullet that would silence imposter syndrome forever, but we’ve discovered it’s a journey. Life and work is ebb and flow, sometimes we’re crushing it and sometimes we struggle. It’s okay to feel this way.
At a recent event, we asked several Momentum panelists to share their best practices for Navigating Imposter Syndrome. Here are their recommendations:
- Your story is YOUR STORY, not anyone else’s
- Accept that what you’re experiencing is real
- Channel your worth and champion your value
- At the end of the day, you were chosen to speak and to share
- Assertively use your voice. After all, no one can share the BEST thoughts about you, but you.
The tips in Ethan Kross’s book, Chatter have helped me get a grip on my imposter syndrome. I keep the following page of tips in my planner, so it goes to work with me every day!
Tips from Chatter by Ethan Kross
Use distanced self-talk when working through a difficult experience. Use your name and second-person “you” to refer to yourself. Doing so is linked to less rumination, improved performance under stress, wiser thinking, and less negative emotion
Imagine advising a friend. What would you say to a friend experiencing the same problem? Think about this advice and apply it to yourself.
Broaden your perspective. Think about how the experience you’re worrying about compares with other adverse events you or others have endured, how it fits into the broader scheme of your life and world, and how people you admire would respond to the situation.
Reinterpret your body’s chatter response. Your body’s response to stress is an adaptive evolutionary reaction that improves performance under high-stress conditions. Tell yourself that your sudden rapid breathing, pounding heart, and sweaty palms are there not to sabotage you but to help you respond to the challenge.
Normalize your experience. Knowing you’re not alone can be a potent way of quelling chatter. Use the word “you” to refer to people in general when you think and talk about negative experiences. This helps you reflect on their experiences from a healthy distance and clarifies that what happened is not unique to them but part of being human.
Engage in mental time-travel. Consider how you’ll feel a month, year, or even longer from now. Remind yourself that you’ll look back on whatever is upsetting you in the future and it’ll seem much less upsetting, and will highlight the impermanence of your current emotional state
Change the view. Take the perspective of a fly on the wall looking down at your situation, and try to understand why your “distant self” is feeling the way it is. This will allow you to focus less on emotional features and more on reinterpreting the event to promote insight and closure.
Write expressively. Write about your deepest thoughts and feelings surrounding your negative experience for 15-20 mins a day for 1-3 consecutive days. Really let yourself go as you jot down your stream of thoughts. Focusing on your experience from a narrator’s perspective helps provide distance from the experience and make sense of the situation.
Adopt the perspective of a neutral 3rd party. If you find yourself experiencing chatter over a negative interaction that involves others, assume the perspective of a neutral third-party observer who is motivated to find the best outcome for all parties involved. This will reduce negative emotions, quiets the agitated inner voice, and enhances the quality of relationships we share with people with whom we’ve had negative interactions
Clutch a lucky charm or embrace superstition. Simply believing that an object or superstitious behavior will help relieve chatter often works by harnessing the brain’s power of expectation.
Perform a ritual. Performing a ritual (a fixed sequence of behaviors that is infused with meaning) provides you with a sense of order and control that can be helpful when experiencing chatter.
Create order in your environment. Boost your sense of control by imposing order in your surroundings. Organize and tidy your environment, make a list, arrange different objects to help provide a sense of mental order.
Increase your exposure to green spaces. Spending time in green space helps replenish the brain’s limited attentional reserves, which are useful for combating chatter. Go for a walk in a tree-lined park or street, or watch a film clip of nature on your computer. Stare at a photograph of a green scene, or listen to nature sounds.
Seek out awe-inspiring experiences. Feeling awe allows us to transcend our current concerns in ways that put our problems in perspective. Take in a breathtaking vista, view a remarkable piece of art. Create spaces that elicit feelings of awe.
Minimize passive social media use. Doom-scrolling can trigger self-defeating, envy-inducing thought spirals. Use technologies actively to connect with others instead of passive consumption.
Look at a photo of a loved one. Thinking about others who care about us reminds us that there are people we can turn to when we need support during times of emotional distress. This can soothe our inner voice when you are consumed with chatter.
Build a board of advisors. Find the right people to talk to who are skilled in satisfying your emotional and cognitive needs so that they can help you reduce chatter. Lean on people from different areas of your life to pull in different perspectives.
Imposter Syndrome can show up in many forms trying to derail our focus, confidence, and hard work. When you encounter the struggle of imposter syndrome, bookmark these best practices to help you as you’re navigating your own journey.
Contributed by Mindy Santo,
Momentum Mentoring Coordinator