Q: How can I handle Imposter Syndrome anxiety in meetings?

Imposter Syndrome anxiety can catch us off-guard at the most annoying times.

What can you do when the fight-flight-freeze response kicks off in a meeting, because Imposter Syndrome has come out to play? And why does it make your mind go blank?

What is the link between the 'spotlight' coming towards you and that anxiety we feel, that makes us hold back on our ideas and play small?

And how can you turn this around, using the power of neuroplasticity to turn your inner critic into a genuine cheerleader?

This is the great question that someone in one of my keynote talks asked me. And here's how I answered them.

Here's What We'll Cover About Imposter Syndrome Anxiety

  • Why does Imposter Syndrome come up - even when we think we're coping well with it - at the worst possible moments?
  • How does it trigger the anxiety we can feel in meetings, that makes us hold back from speaking up with our ideas?
  • What's going on in the body for this? And the little-known autopilot that kicks off the fight-flight-freeze response.
  • How to press 'pause' on that stress response, in under sixty seconds.
  • What you can do longer-term, to make this a thing of the past.

Watch Here Now:

Here Are Today's Resources For Imposter Syndrome Anxiety:

Press Pause

Here's the training I mention in the episode - yours, as my gift - to help you press 'pause' on Imposter Syndrome's negative self-talk, in under sixty seconds. Press Pause.

Work With Me - The Imposter Syndrome Bootcamp™

Want to start creating breakthroughs in taming negative self-talk and turning Imposter Syndrome around, even before the end of the day today? What if you could transform your experience of Imposter Syndrome in the next six weeks? Work with me on the Imposter Syndrome Bootcamp here!

Read Ditching Imposter Syndrome

And if you want to get hold of a copy of Ditching Imposter Syndrome, so you can set yourself free from the secret fear of being found out as not good enough, you can find it here: https://www.ditchingimpostersyndrome.com/book/

Get Your Free Imposter SyndromePersonalised Action Plan

And when you've done my research-backed Imposter Syndrome assessment quiz (https://www.clarejosa.com/youtube ), let me know - what's your #DoOneThing action from the personalised action plan?

Tweetables On Imposter Syndrome Anxiety

Imposter Syndrome Anxiety In Meetings - transcript

This is an AI transcript, so please forgive typos!

It's Imposter Syndrome Question Day. And this is one that I was sent by somebody who's going to be attending a keynote that I'm actually doing in a couple of weeks. So one of the things I often do with a keynote at a conference or in an organisation when I give a talk, is I send out my Imposter Syndrome assessment quiz beforehand. So everybody gets a feel for whether they're running Imposter Syndrome, which of the three hidden drivers is the most important for them, and they get a personalised action plan. So we hit the ground running link for that is below, by the way.

If you've not done it, make sure you go and do it. And this person in that quiz, you've got a chance to ask me a question and I answer them all as far as I can. Yeah. And somebody asked me today, I'm going to read this. How do I get rid of anxiety and work calls about speaking up with an idea or talking through plans and ideas?

Sometimes it's felt even with people I know really well. So here's what's happening there. The unconscious mind, the bit that's running the show has triggered the Fight Flight Freeze response, the sympathetic nervous system, the fear response that fires off negative thoughts, that fire off biochemical reactions in the body that create the emotions, that feed more thoughts. And this impacts the actions that we take. So when we're running that kind of you can feel the spotlight coming towards you, whether it's in a room, whether it's on zoom or teams.

And when it hits you, it fires off that cascade. What happens in that moment is the body is getting ready to go to war with the question, or to run from it, or to freeze and pretend you can't hear it. It diverts some of the blood flow from the prefrontal cortex in the brain that has your brilliant ideas and does your logical, rational, creative type thinking to the primal part that only cares about instinctive survival. So this is why it makes us hold back. Firstly, it means it's harder to concentrate, it's harder to retain information, process information, to come up with those ideas.

But it makes us hold back, to flinch, to be smaller in order to stay safe. So when I'm working with clients, or if somebody's on my Imposter Syndrome boot camp programme, what I recommend they do in that situation is we need to reset the Fight Flight Freeze response. The simplest way you can do that is a breathing technique that I put a link to below this video. Okay? So I don't want to do it on the video because you might be listening to this if you're driving or doing something in the background, and I'm going to be asking you to close your eyes to do the technique.

But when we use that particular breathing technique to press pause, it puts us in neutral. Then once we're in neutral. The body and the mind are open to thinking different thoughts. The bit of you that automatically move the blood flow to the primal part of the brain goes red alert. Over blood flow goes back to the prefrontal cortex that does the brilliant thinking.

You are then in a position to choose a different action. You've calmed the anxiety, the worry, the what if thoughts, the catastrophising thing, that self talk that ends up with us not wanting to speak out. You're feeling calm and grounded. When you've used this technique. Then you are able to choose a different action or a different thought that supports you.

So this is a technique that's really useful in that moment to be able to go from self-talk being really destructive into neutral, like changing gear in a car and shifting direction. It works at a neurological level and at a psychological safety with the fights like freeze hormones, of course, zoning adrenaline, for example, in the body. But it also is part of the strategies that I teach for neuroplasticity to be able to rewire the neural pathways in the brain, to be able to rewire the philtres in the brain so that over time, and it doesn't take that long, you can start turning your inner critic into a genuine cheerleader without pretending. So the more you play with this, the easier it becomes and the more you are breaking the link between the trigger of I've got to speak up with an idea or a plant or I'll tone it down, I'll make it more beige, make it more palatable. It allows you to create new thought habits that support new behavioural habits.

The rest of the work I do on Imposter Syndrome, we go a lot deeper. We look at what is the root cause, what was the real driver for this anxiety, how can we release that, resolve that, clear that in a healthy and happy way? So you don't actually need the surface level symptom of the anxiety or the worry or that holding back anymore, but in that moment, use the pause technique linked below this video. Practise that, play with that when you don't need it, and then when you do, if you do it's there for you, it's second nature. You've got what in the world of yoga teaching, we call a body memory, a muscle memory for the technique.

So that is the first thing I would suggest for somebody who's struggling with that particular problem. Go and play with a pause technique and then make sure that you've done my research-backed questionnaire the quiz to get your Imposter Syndrome score and your personalised action plan so you can start turning it around by the end of the day today. I hope you found that useful. Okay?

Subscribe if you have to share it with people, hit the little bell thing so you get notifications whenever new video is published. And I'll be back soon with another important syndrome question.

About the author

Clare Josa

Clare is considered a global authority in the fields of Imposter Syndrome, burnout and toxic resilience, and has been an international keynote speaker for over 20 years.

The author of 8 books, a reformed engineer and the former Head of Market Research for one of the world's most disruptive brands, she blends research-backed practical inspiration with demystified ancient wisdom, to help you create breakthroughs in ways that are fast, fun and forever.

Want to find out your Imposter Syndrome Score? Take Clare's free research-backed, quiz-style assessment and get your score plus a personalised action plan in the next 3 minutes.

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