Imposter syndrome is an indiscriminate beast. It doesn’t care how experienced you are. How qualified you are. How pretty, fit, funny, charismatic, skilled or ambitious you are. Most people (regardless of gender) will experience imposter syndrome at some point in their lives and it can be incredibly damaging to your career and self-confidence.
In this episode we chat about imposter syndrome and I share a couple of simple ways you can learn to overcome it. Noting that it never really goes away…
Links I mentioned in this episode:
21. Imposter syndrome – Transcript
[00:00:00] Hi, there I’m Bec McFarland the host of the Pop Your Career Podcast. As a career coach, I’m most passionate about helping my clients to discover their own personal flavour of career fulfillment. In this podcast, we are going to be exploring ways that you too can feel more fulfilled by your work. So strap yourself in, get ready for the ride. The tips around here are fast and in abundance.
[00:00:29] Hello. Hello, it’s Bec McFarland here helping you do better and be better in your career. Let’s talk about imposter syndrome. You have probably heard these words floating around over the last few years. They’ve been showing up on the internet a hell of a lot more frequently, so much so that they’ve become part of my everyday vocabulary [00:01:00] and my career coaching practice.
[00:01:02] Everybody is asking me about imposter syndrome, talking about its effects. What does it mean? How do we cure it? All of these things. And in fact, I have had the opportunity to speak to quite a few different groups about imposter syndrome, including an beautiful group of young women at the University of Technology, Sydney, at a few networking groups including the My Vibe Network. Shout out to the My Viber’s here in Canberra, and a few others as well where I have been asked to pop along and just talk about my take on imposter syndrome and why it’s becoming more prevalent and what do we do about it? So I thought that today would be an opportune time for me to jump in and talk to you about it too.
[00:01:54] So here’s the thing I just mentioned imposter syndrome becoming more prevalent, [00:02:00] but I just want to highlight that. I actually don’t think that’s the case. I just think that we’re starting to talk about it more. We’re starting to become more aware of it, and we’ve got words to describe it now, where maybe in the past we didn’t.
[00:02:16] So ,I don’t necessarily think that it is becoming more common. I think it’s been hovering around undetected for quite a while. It’s just that now we do have the language to start to open a dialogue about it.
[00:02:32] So what is imposter syndrome? Well, it is what is known as a psychological phenomenon, which happens when you start to doubt your abilities and your achievements. It’s often a lot of self talk, a lot of self doubt, a lot of negativity that’s floating around, and you start to feel like a fraud or you’re feeling like you [00:03:00] don’t belong. Right? So this is where people get those fraudy feelings and where the word imposter comes from, right? We have imposter syndrome. So when I’m talking with my clients and I’m listening to the things that they’re saying to me, there’s like a few common kinds of phrases that I hear from them.
[00:03:20] And they’re things like, you know, I’m worried that I’m not qualified enough to take the next step. Maybe I need to go back to study. I don’t think I’m ready. I just don’t have enough experience. I didn’t do it well enough, I know that I could have done better. I’m worried that the people at work will think that I don’t work hard enough. I don’t know enough about it. What if someone asks me a question and I can’t answer it? I’m not applying for the job. I know that I don’t meet enough of the criteria. I [00:04:00] feel like I don’t belong here. I’m not pretty, professional, intelligent, or young enough.
[00:04:08] Did you notice the pattern? In every one of those phrases that I commonly hear, we had the word enough. Enough. Enough. It frustrates me so much because it is just such a like sinister word. Of course, it can be used in other ways and it can be used in really beautiful ways, but I am hearing so often my clients telling me that they’re not enough.
[00:04:43] Whenever I hear this, I see it as a bit of a red flag, and I begin to investigate and explore further. This is when I’ll start to ask more questions about like, what makes you think that and where has that thought come from? Because I really want to get an indicator [00:05:00] as to whether it is actually imposter syndrome that’s rearing its ugly head.
[00:05:05] When I say that imposter syndrome is rearing its ugly head, I want to share a quote with you. And of course, the egotistical part of me is sharing a quote from myself, but I like to share this quote because of the fact that when I first said it, it made so much sense and it resonated with so many people, and that is imposter syndrome is a beast that does not discriminate. We all have imposter syndrome to a degree, and although we can learn to manage it, it can’t be cured.
[00:05:47] So this is really what I think. I think about imposter syndrome being this horrible beast. And interestingly enough, there’s a beautiful artist who has actually created a series of art projects and a book [00:06:00] where she looks at imposter syndrome as being like that little devil on your shoulder. And one of my beautiful friends recommended this to me. And of course I purchased the book and I also purchased the Little Devil stuffed animal. And I use him in different speaking gigs and stuff like that just to illustrate the point of imposter syndrome.
[00:06:22] Obviously with this being an audio thing, you can’t see him, so I just want you to imagine him. So with this imposter syndrome, with this feeling of like not being enough, what, like, what, what the hell and what are we going to do about it?
[00:06:40] So, interestingly, I don’t think that there’s a certain type of person who gets imposter syndrome more than anyone else. I think actually most people either suffer from imposter syndrome regularly or they will at some point in their lives. There has been a lot of studies done [00:07:00]around imposter syndrome within the PhD community.
[00:07:03] Apparently it’s quite rife there that we do have a lot of PhD students who are particularly suffering from imposter syndrome. And I have seen this in my PhD clients that it is really quite common, and I believe that that is largely due to the competition or perceived competition that happens within those PhD communities.
[00:07:26] But largely what happens with imposter syndrome is that these feelings are actually coming from internally. So on occasion they might be triggered by something that someone else has said or done, but often the cause of it is really that, that limiting belief, that negative self talk, that’s happening inside of us.
[00:07:48] So when we talk about the fact that, you know, it can’t be cured, I just want you to understand that, although there is no way I believe of just wiping [00:08:00] imposter syndrome out, putting it in the bin and then never having to worry about it again. There are things that we can do to overcome imposter syndrome and to continue flexing that muscle to be able to move through it quicker and quicker.
[00:08:16] So there is this common phrase, ‘new level, new devil’, but many of you will know that I’m a huge fan of Denise Duffield Thomas, who is an author and money mindset mentor, and she actually has the phrase, ‘new level, same devil’. And the reason that she shares this is that a lot of people who have got money mindset issues, they will overcome the issues, they overcome the limiting beliefs, and when they move on to their next money achievement or they move to the next money level, that old limiting belief actually comes back and hits them again.
[00:08:52] And I find that this is the case a lot with imposter syndrome. So we use these techniques, we think that we’ve beaten it, that we’ve [00:09:00] knocked it out, we’ve kicked it to the curb, and then we will get to the next stage and that same old devil comes back and starts to tap us on the shoulder. But the more that we can practice these different techniques and exercises, and the more that we can be really conscious of our negative self talk, the quicker that we’re actually able to move through it to again, kick that guide of the curb and on rising. Because the last thing that we want is for imposter syndrome to be the thing that holds us back from achieving our career goals.
[00:09:31] This episode is brought to you by the Career Clarity Quest, my absolutely free, seven day program, which is designed to support you in getting so much clearer about your next steps. Find it at PopYourCareer.com/quest.
[00:09:51] So let’s talk about some of these techniques. Well, some of them include things like neurolinguistic programming. So you may know that I am a [00:10:00] neurolinguistic programming master practitioner basically means that we use language to reprogram the brain, and there are several different NLP techniques that we can use to actually change the limiting beliefs that you have and replace them with new belief.
[00:10:19] Another tool that I really like is emotional freedom technique, also known as EFT or tapping. Now I work with an EFT practitioner. Shout out to Mel Kovacevic from Functional Health Canberra and the Seed Cycle. So I particularly use EFT or emotional freedom technique to work around my issues with food. However you can use it for lots and lots of different things. And one of those things is looking at the negative self-taught, looking at the beliefs that we have and moving through those beliefs and creating new pathways for us to think more positively in the future. It’s a really powerful [00:11:00] technique when it comes to addressing some of those beliefs and things that have been lurking around under the surface for a really long time in your subconscious that most of the time you’re not even aware of.
[00:11:10] There are some other things that you can start to do though on your own without an NLP or EFT practitioner. Now, the first is that I believe starting a conversation about imposter syndrome is really important because it’s not one of those things that we often talk about, particularly in a career environment where there could be some perceived competition going on.
[00:11:32] We’re not necessarily going to be super vulnerable and talk about some of the horrible beliefs that we’ve got, or those little voices that are telling us that we’re not enough. But this is really what we do need to do. It’s so important that we start to have these conversations and that we start to share some of our vulnerability because I swear to you what you are experiencing, the people that are around you are experiencing those things too. And the more that we can [00:12:00] talk about it, the more that we can actually keep each other accountable in a really beautiful and supportive way to actually like remind each other and say, Hey, listen babe, I think that might be your imposter syndrome talking again.
[00:12:13] One of my other favorite ways to target imposter syndrome is to stop focusing on yourself. And of course, we all have a bit of ego within us. We all like to talk about ourselves a bit, and to think about ourselves and our own problems, but when we do this, when we focus internally, we’re actually almost giving that imposter syndrome beast full permission to run rampant and just ruin us.
[00:12:46] However, if you are able to reframe it and think instead, it’s not about you, it’s about the value that you have to offer. Right? I’m going to say that again. So it’s not about you, it’s about the value that you [00:13:00] have to offer.
[00:13:01] So for example, I personally do experience imposter syndrome quite a bit, and I’ve made the joke in the past that usually one of the times that I experience imposter syndrome the most is actually when I’m invited to go somewhere and talk about imposter syndrome.
[00:13:19] Because I often think to myself like, Oh, I don’t have enough qualifications to talk about this, or maybe I don’t have enough experience, or like, Who the hell are you Bec McFarland to go along and talk about this topic? Like, you know, that’s not something that you have got the, you know, the qualifications or experience to talk about and like, I can be perfectly honest with you, like, this was really, really crazy.
[00:13:44] You know, that time that I went to the University of Technology, Sydney to go and talk to this beautiful networking group of young women all about imposter syndrome. And the whole time I was sitting there thinking to myself, I wonder if they realized that I never [00:14:00] went to University? If they find out are they going to kick me out?
[00:14:06] Like, honestly, that was what I was thinking the whole time that I was there was like, Oh my God, I feel like such an imposter. I feel like such a fraud. They’ve invited me here to give these lovely young ladies advice, like as they’re coming to the end of their degrees and I don’t even have a degree, like, Who the hell are you to be doing this? Right?
[00:14:27] Now, on that night that I went to that specific event, I could’ve bailed. I could have gotten in contact with them beforehand. I could’ve let my imposter syndrome win. And in fact, I could’ve let my imposter syndrome win today and said, actually, I’m not going to record this podcast because I don’t have the expertise needed to do it justice.
[00:14:46] But the reason that I didn’t on that night, and the reason that I didn’t today is that I know that in truth, it’s not about me. It’s about the value that I have to offer. And if [00:15:00] I bailed, if I decided to let the imposter syndrome win and I stayed home that evening, or I didn’t record this podcast today, then effectively what I’m doing is depriving you, dear listener of the opportunity to hear my opinions, my take on this, my experience, my wisdom, the wisdom and experience of my clients that comes through me.
[00:15:26] I would be depriving you of those opportunities, which means ultimately that you would be missing out. You would be missing out on that education that I’m providing. You would be missing out on the inspiration that I’m providing, and you would be missing out on the entertainment that I consistently try and provide, even if I’m the only one laughing at my own jokes. You would be missing out though. Right?
[00:15:58] And when I think about [00:16:00] that, when I think about the value, when I think about the fact that I’d be depriving you, when I think about the fact that you’d be missing out, I think to myself like, Man, what a jerk. I would be if I stayed home and I didn’t go across to meet those lovely women. If I didn’t record this podcast today, what a jerk. What an absolute jerk. And I’m just not about that life.
[00:16:30] So you can use this tip in any situation, you know, if you’re thinking about not applying for that job, just think to yourself. If you don’t apply for that job, then you are directly depriving these people of the opportunity to meet you and to potentially make a decision that you are the right person to work with them. Like who are you to make that decision on their behalf?
[00:16:56] If you are in a meeting and you are thinking about sharing an [00:17:00] idea, but you feel that imposter syndrome building up and kicking in, I challenge you to think about the fact that you are actually depriving every single person in that meeting room of the opportunity to listen to, to learn from, and to enjoy that idea that you have, that idea that could potentially impact them on a personal and professional level. It could impact the project, it could impact the whole organization. And I say to you that if you decide not to share it because of the fact that you are worried that you might be an imposter, then you’re not an imposter, but you are a jerk.
[00:17:44] Dear listener, Please know I say it with love. I hope this has been helpful, and I hope that you can take this with the absolute spirit of love that it was meant with.
[00:18:03] Thanks so much for listening to the Pop Your Career podcast. I hope that you’ve enjoyed today’s tips and that you found value in what I’ve shared with you. If you like your career advice quick and entertaining, I would love for you to subscribe. Also leave me a rating and a review. If you want to continue the conversation, come and join me over on social media. You can find me everywhere at Pop Your Career. I’ll see you soon.
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