Building confidence and beating impostor syndrome.
The sixth episode in season five sees us revisit our thoughts on imposter syndrome – first discussed in our October 2020 debut podcast – one of our most downloaded episodes. One year on, we reflect on how our views on imposter syndrome have evolved and discuss the correlation with confidence and boldness.
Impostor syndrome generally happens for one of two reasons. One is when people in an environment make someone feel that they don’t belong in that space. It isn’t that you feel like you’re a phoney or out of your depth: intimidated, you look around and clearly you don’t fit.
Some would question whether it’s the responsibility of others in the room to quash an individual’s feelings of insecurity, which is where coaching on building confidence and digging deep to reveal why imposter syndrome exists in the first place is valuable.
Even the most naturally confident can remember occasions when they felt that, at any moment, they could be exposed as a bit of a fraud. These imposter moments surface at times when you find yourself in unfamiliar territory. What’s important is to learn skills that, at times of vulnerability, help us lean into the ‘uncomfortableness’ that comes with being a bit vulnerable, and find the courage to step forward into that space.
Impostor syndrome v. confidence.
Confidence looks and feels very differently from one person to another. It’s normally what you believe you can and can’t do. Confidence is such an important skill strength that, if you find yourself struggling with it, being open and talking to somebody can shift it for you. If you don’t, then you just stagnate, not being confident, not putting yourself in the frame for anything exciting or challenging.
Read, learn, and undertake training to improve skills in confidence and assertiveness.
Imposter syndrome is more an internal self-belief that’s difficult to move, no matter how many times people tell you how good you are.
Tips and techniques
Accept that it’s OK to feel anxious and take time out to ask yourself searching questions:
- What am I going to do about it?
- What do I need to do to make myself feel less anxious?
- What things do I need in place to help me move forward?
- How do I build confidence?
- How can I build my self-esteem to where I need it to be?
- How can I beat my impostor syndrome?
Imposter syndrome as a limiting label
People can use it as an excuse not to progress themselves. Sometimes what you tell yourself isn’t particularly helpful. By continually telling yourself that you get anxious over X Y Z you’re reaffirming that in your own head. Your brain is allowing you to think in that way. Change the negative affirmation narrative in your mind.
Identify confidence builders, cast out critics
Turn to your tribe. Consider your environment. The people around you, whether you feel you belong.
Often imposture syndrome has little to do with the fact that the people around you are better than you, cleverer than you or more accomplished than you. So much of this is attributed to assumption. This is when it’s important to re-frame.
Take time to think about your surroundings and who is in your world. We get into a habit of just listening to certain people who say certain things to us and accepting it because we’ve always accepted it.
It’s important to pause, step back, reflect, write down how you feel when that person engages with you, and whether it’s a positive or negative emotion. Consider the people in your life and what contributions they are making towards your success and happiness. This will help bolster confidence as well.
Step into a place where you are nurtured, valued and celebrated. Where people are happy for you because that in itself is a confidence booster.
Note of thanks
Gratitude: Never underestimate the power of a simple ‘thank you’. Send thank you notes, not just for big-ticket items but for the little things in life. When someone has helped you or brightened your day. And how people respond to a quick one-liner can often make you realise that your purpose and contribution make a difference and are appreciated. Now that’s a confidence boost!
Hold your head up
As featured in episode 4 Are power poses and quotes enough to keep you motivated?, science has proven that the body can shape the mind. We recommend Amy Cuddy’s TED Talk on body language and then practising your own Power Pose. It only takes two minutes to discover – and adapt – what your body is communicating to others and, most importantly, you.
For an instant, powerful injection of confidence: Make yourself big with legs apart, arms on your hips, shoulders back, head held high, open yourself up. This stance raises your testosterone and lowers cortisol hormones – you appear strong, in control and feel less stressed.
“Our bodies can change our minds, and our minds can change our behaviours, and our behaviour changes our outcomes.” Amy Cuddy
Trip down memory lane
Using your past to inform the future, is a very good resilience building technique.
Try writing reflectively about your life up until this point and look back: you might surprise yourself at some of the things that you’ve done. Creating a list of your achievements and what people have complimented you on ensures you have an arsenal of confidence-boosting material around you.
Embrace your strengths as you reflect on your life. Taking the time to note the key things that have happened, that you’ve done throughout your whole life – and not just work related. There are people that you’ve impacted along the way, and there are details that you’ve probably forgotten about that just build a bit of confidence in your life generally,
Keep looking and moving forward. Grab a notebook and pen. Work out your goals, dreams, life ambition, legacy, and what you need to do to help you get there. Then put a timeline on it for when you want to get there. And finally, who do you need/not need around you to help you to do?
Try he four overlapping circles of Ikigai. Jot down what you love, what you’re good at, what you can get paid for and what the world needs to decipher your aspirational sweet spot – the intersection of passion, mission, profession, and vocation.
Fact v. interpretation
Your interpretation of a situation can be very, very different from reality. Sometimes we assume people are better than us in some way, which sparks that feeling of low self-worth.
By taking time to discuss with others what’s happened and how you interpreted it you could be surprised to discover that your perception of a situation was in your imagination.
In her book Rising Strong: how owning our stories gives the power to write a new ending, Brené Brown urges us to ask “what is the story that you’re telling yourself?”
As individuals we make assumptions about situations that can trigger a lack of confidence and impostor syndrome. Learn to steel yourself to lean into difficult conversations or seek clarification. 99% of the time it’s never as bad as what you initially thought it would be.
Stop people pleasing
Find it hard to say ‘no’? Always apologising? Making others feel comfortable? This is exhausting! You cannot make everybody happy. You can’t be everyone’s cup of tea, otherwise you’ll be a mug. Allow yourself to step away from being a people pleaser to being authentic – being you.
Different situations require different techniques and tactics. However, it all stems from the foundations about building confidence in your abilities. Once you’ve got that confidence in ability, you’re more likely to step up and speak up when your imposter syndrome is triggered.
And remember, you’re worth it!
If you’d like to explore this some more, why not take the time to review your confidence and self-esteem by completing the Rosenberg Scale and Confidence test, exercises we use on our Coaching Retreat Days.
These tests will give you an indication of where you are and what you need to work on. If you want to find out more about how to build up your self-esteem you can also listen to episode 6 in season 7 of our podcast when it comes out in May 2023.