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You’re Not A Fraud: How to Overcome Imposter Syndrome So You Can Achieve Your Goals
What is imposter syndrome?
When you set out to achieve something big, do you find yourself feeling like a fraud? Are you tormented by the thought that it’s only a matter of time before you’re found out? Do you feel this way despite evidence to the contrary or words of praise from other people? If so, mama, you’ve got a serious case of Imposter Syndrome
Imposter Syndrome is a difficult to shake belief that you are not as capable nor as brilliant as others believe you to be. It is a type of anxiety that is particularly common among high achieving individuals from all walks of life. As a work at home mom, you may not feel like a high achieving person, but I assure you that you are. It takes a lot to begin your own enterprise while raising a family, so don’t let anyone tell you differently. I have to chuckle as I type that because I already know if you’re struggling with Imposter Syndrome, you’re already doubting the truth of that statement.
Imposter Syndrome is a thief of dreams, but you don’t have to let it rob you of yours. Read on to discover how to overcome Imposter Syndrome so you can achieve your goals.
Why is imposter syndrome so common?
The seeds of self-doubt are planted in a variety of ways: in childhood through your family of origin, in school, especially at the university level, in the workplace, and in other group settings. Whether you were conditioned to downplay success as a means of staying humble or you were encouraged to be hypercompetitive, these extreme filters can distort your ability to process your achievements in a healthy way.
Other causes of Imposter Syndrome are feeling like an outsider due to being a member of a minority group (for example, being differently abled in an ableist world) or having an affinity for creative work, though Imposter Syndrome is hardly foreign to those who prefer the world of Academia and hard sciences.
I can point to multiple reasons that have contributed to the development of Imposter Syndrome within my own life, but one of the most significant has to do with academic achievement.
I grew up as a smart kid who met academic milestones early. I was an early reader and writer. I devoured books and wrote creative stories based on recurring dreams. At a young age, I was a superstar.
My mother, a teacher, was encouraged by my teachers and her colleagues to put me into a more challenging academic environment. After having me evaluated and officially labeled as “gifted and talented”, I was transferred from the school I’d been going to for nearly 5 years and placed into one of the best elementary schools in the city. I continued the rest of my academic career on this elite track.
In many ways, my experience in this new environment was incredible. The instructors were passionate, the regular exposure to fine arts delighted my soul, and the abilities of my peers left me feeling inspired.
I also began to feel incredibly insecure.
“Imposter Syndrome is a thief of dreams, but you don’t have to let it rob you of yours.”
It was so easy to stand out in my former school. But now that I’d been placed with other high-achieving kids, I began to get lost. I felt like I couldn’t measure up to the brilliant minds around me.
I won’t dwell on the roller coaster of emotions I was on from 4th grade until graduation, but I can honestly say I still battle those feelings that I developed way back then.
My life trajectory has deviated from the course I appeared to be on during my academic career.
Many of my former classmates are doctors, attorneys, producers, politicians, artists, activists…
I’m a stay at home mom.
Oh, and I homeschool.
I’m not exactly the model alumna.
I need to make one thing clear: I LOVE my life.
Wouldn’t trade any of it. Every decision I’ve made has brought me to this moment.
But you’d better believe I have heard the world failure on more than one occasion and I don’t just mean in my internal dialogue.
So if you’re a stay at home mom who feels guilt for opting out, I can relate.
Actually, most women can likely relate to your feelings. Imposter Syndrome affects men and women, but some researchers believe women tend to deal with it on a greater scale.
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Imposter Syndrome and Women
For women, Imposter Syndrome seems to stem from the idea that their success is at odds with societal expectations. Some have even termed it as a type of “internalized sexism”, though others balk at this idea. Their argument is women simply report Imposter Syndrome more frequently than men, but that does not mean that men are less affected by it.
Personally, I feel there may be truth to the idea that women are more prone to Imposter Syndrome.
There has been and continues to be plenty of conditioning in all sorts of spheres that can make a woman doubt herself, whether she aspires to live a simple life as a homemaker or to be the CEO of a multinational corporation.
We also know men are, in general, more confident about their abilities even when their performance is mediocre.
We could explore the relationship between sex, gender, and feelings of inadequacy ad nauseam. Sexism isn’t the point nor am I encouraging you to adopt an identity as a victim.
The takeaway for you is to challenge those long-held beliefs you’ve held about your abilities and your success.
Whether you harbor negative feelings about yourself because you’re a woman, because of your race, or anything else ultimately doesn’t matter.
Here’s what IS important: just because you believe you can’t do that thing you’ve always wanted to do doesn’t mean you’re right about it.
Let’s examine the signs of Imposter Syndrome so you can root it out and deal with it.
Signs of Imposter Syndrome
Are you dealing with Imposter Syndrome? Here are some indicators you may have this problem:
You allow perfectionist ideals to interfere with your progress.
You can’t take a compliment.
You make excuses for your success.
You’re afraid of being called out as a fraud.
You don’t feel you deserve your success.
You feel like you’ve conned your way to the top.
You constantly give credit to your network, decision-makers, and anyone else other than yourself for your achievements.
The fact that you’re experiencing these symptoms doesn’t automatically mean that the cause is a deep-seated belief that you’re a fraud, but there is a strong possibility that Imposter Syndrome is at play.
It’s important to know that all people have times of doubt as they work hard to achieve big things, so don’t slap a label on yourself because you had a brief period of doubt.
If these feelings persist despite all evidence that you really are crushing it, it’s time to get help.
How to Overcome Imposter Syndrome
Awareness of the roots of Imposter Syndrome isn’t enough to banish these feelings from your mind permanently. It takes work. Mindset work.
Changing your mindset can be done on your own, but when it comes to battling belief systems, there is power in partnership.
You can make great strides in transforming your beliefs with the help of a therapist or a coach.
I’ve enjoyed talk therapy treatments multiple times throughout my life and they have been a key part of my growth.
I’ve also had the pleasure of being coached by some incredible women entrepreneurs who have helped me to come to terms with the fact that I really am awesome.
In addition to these professional helpers, I have some wonderful older women in my life who always encourage me to be comfortable in my own skin. If I can’t love and accept who I am now, I won’t be able to love and accept myself as I continue to achieve my goals.
Who can you turn to for support as you embark on this journey to transform your mindset? Talk therapy is worth every penny if you decide to make that investment, but mentorship or masterminds can be just as beneficial.
You can even find some amazing virtual groups to help you along the way. If you want a list of the best Facebook groups for mompreneurs, you can find one inside of the resource library.
Remember, whether or not you’ve got a coach, a therapist, or a group to lean on while you address your Imposter Syndrome, you’re not going to automatically be cured of these feelings.
Ultimately, it comes down to you making the decision to do the work and committing to developing new habits. No one else can do that for you nor can they make you do it. The outside support is simply there to help guide you as you change.
Finding the Support You Need
Making the choice to work at home after you’ve been a stay at home mom can be a frightening and lonely road at times. It’s important to find like-minded women with whom you can vent, cheer on, and trade stories. If you’re looking for your tribe of women who want more out of life, I invite you to join Savvy Mamas Making Moves. Together, we can work on our mindset and encourage one another as we go after our dreams.