One Surprising Thing That Makes Imposter Syndrome Worse – And What You Can Do About It [Episode 55]

This episode of the Ditching Imposter Syndrome podcast is for you, if you've ever felt that flinch when you're about to go and do something and imposter syndrome is kicking in... and you and end up self-sabotaging and beating yourself up about it afterwards.

We're going to talk about the one little-known thing that can make Imposter Syndrome worse. And I'm sharing a strategy you can use right away, plus I want to gift you a training that you can use to prevent this from happening in future.

What's waiting for you:

  • Why is it that the more important something is to us, the worse Imposter Syndrome gets?
  • How the Imposter Syndrome Iceberg model helps us to understand this.
  • What's happening when previously dormant Imposter Syndrome comes out to play?
  • The link between the fight-flight-freeze response and self-sabotage.
  • Why mindset isn't enough to prevent self-sabotage.
  • The two types of fear.
  • A 2-minute self-mentoring process to help you prevent self-sabotage, without having to push on through the fear.

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Speaker 1 (00:00)
Hello, and welcome to episode 55 of the Ditching Imposter Syndrome podcast with me, your host, Clare Josa. And today, we are talking about one surprising thing that makes imposter syndrome worse. This has probably happened to you if you've experienced imposter syndrome and practical things you can do about it, including one of my favourite self-mentoring questions for when imposter syndrome strikes. So this is for you. If you've ever felt that flinch when you're about to go and do something and imposter syndrome is kicking in and you end up self-sabotaging and beating yourself up about it afterwards, I want to give you in today's episode a strategy you can use right away, and I want to gift you a training that you can use to prevent this from happening in future. So there's something that's incredibly common in life that can make imposter syndrome worse. It can wake up previously dormant imposter syndrome. It can make it come out to play when you thought you'd tackled it and the coping strategies were working their magic. By the way, this is why I don't recommend just coping strategies. Deal with what's under the surface so you can be free from this.

Speaker 1 (01:04)
And it's the thing that leaves us with some of life's biggest regrets. I don't want that for you. So in today's episode, I'm going to give you the how to for what to do when this happens and what you can do to prevent it medium to longer term. There is a fact, proven both from my two decades now of research studies and all the time I've spent specialising in supporting hundreds of thousands of people to clear imposter syndrome. Imposter syndrome gets worse, the more important something is to us. Yeah, let that sink in for a minute. Imposter syndrome gets worse, the more important something is to us. Why is that? Well, it's to do with a model that I've created from my research studies. The model is not responsible. The model explains this, so I'm not taking the blame here. It's something called the imposter syndrome iceberg, and it's loosely based on the work from Robert Diltz from many years ago on neurological levels in neurolinguistic programming. A lot of euros in there. So the imposter syndrome iceberg. It helps us to understand what's really running the show with imposter syndrome. So above the surface of the iceberg, we've got our actions.

Speaker 1 (02:13)
The things we're doing, they're usually in conscious awareness, or we can bring ourselves into conscious awareness of them. A lot of things we do on autopilot and we don't really notice, but they tend to be above the surface. And we could look at actions and say that actually the surface level effect of the causes beneath the surface. Then below actions. And if you're the person that loves visuals on this, I've actually got a link to a graphic for this for you in the show notes. So below the actions, we've got our thoughts, our self-talk, the pictures we have in our heads, everything that's going on there at the mindset level, that internal dialogue. This dictates the actions that we take. And if our self-talk is telling us something's going to be big or hard or scary then we will experience more likely that action being big and hard and scary. Our thoughts are at that borderline. Some of them are in conscious awareness, particularly at three o'clock in the morning, if you're beating yourself up with imposter syndrome, but some of them are below the surface and they're subconscious. That next level down, we've got our beliefs.

Speaker 1 (03:20)
How does the world work? What can we do? What can't we do? That whole skills, our capabilities, our experience. This is the area where classic coaching, a well-trained coach will be able to make a really big difference for you. It's beliefs, self-talk and actions. So that is what mindset-type coaching can help you to achieve breakthroughs in. The stuff that's just below the surface, and that's in more conscious awareness. Henry Ford famously said, Whether you believe you can or you believe you can't, you're right. And there is still, over 100 years on, a lot of truth in that statement. Our belief beliefs govern the actions that we take, the risks we take, and how we feel about those actions when we take them. Then the next level down is our values. What's important to us? What's important to you? What matters? These can come from our tribe. They can come from our national values, our national culture. They can be a faith-based culture, family-based, organization-based, if you have an employer. What is important to you? Because what is important to us is what we will then give our attention to, and it governs the actions we take.

Speaker 1 (04:36)
And then at the bottom of the imposter syndrome iceberg, you've got our sense of self, our identity. Who am I? And this is really where imposter syndrome differs from self-doubt and confidence. It's all about who am I to do that? What if they find out I am a fraud? What if they find me out or realise I am not good enough? You can hear all of these I am and me, identity level statements. So when you're working up there at the beliefs, the thoughts, the actions, that mindset coaching level, you're not actually dealing with the causes deeper below the surface that are running the imposter syndrome show. And what happens when something is important to us is it hits our values button deep below the surface, just above the identity level on the imposter syndrome iceberg. And I'm not talking about something being important to you because your boss tells you it should be or social media told you it should be. I'm talking about these values that are deep inside. What matters to us in the world, what's important to us at an almost at a visceral level, the things that we really feel we want to put some effort into.

Speaker 1 (05:45)
And this is one of the problems with imposter syndrome. The more important something is to you at a values level, the more it's likely to trigger imposter syndrome. It's one of the reasons why previously dormant imposter syndrome can come back out to play in that context. Remember, if you've hung around with me for a while on this podcast or if you've read Ditching Imposter Syndrome or my book Coaching Imposter Syndrome, you'll know that imposter syndrome is context dependent. So in the context of that value, that thing that's really important to you at that close to identity level, the old bridge of coping strategies covering the imposter syndrome gap is no longer enough. And remember, the imposter syndrome gap is the gap between who we see ourselves as being and who we think we need to be to do or achieve something and to get over that gap to succeed. Despite imposter syndrome, we build what I call the Bridge of Coping Strategies. So what happens when something is really deeply important to us at a values level? It widens that gap because it's cranking up the stakes, meaning the old bridge of coping strategies is no longer likely to be enough.

Speaker 1 (07:00)
It can reawaken previously dormant imposter syndrome, and no amount of mindset work is going to stop you flinching and potentially self-sabotaging before you take action on it. So what can you do? Well, I want to share a self-mentoring, self-coaching solution with you. So what's happening when we get that flinch in the body, where something tightens, when we think about doing something that's important to us, where imposter syndrome is running in that context, is it triggers the fight, flight, freeze, fawn mechanism. We've talked about that quite a in the last few episodes. I'm going to put links in the show notes to a couple of episodes it's worth you listening to, if that whole thing is a bit new to you. Episode 52, the 4Ps of imposter syndrome and how they predict your Stress Response, and episode 53. Which talks about the link between this and burnout. And when this fight, flight, I can't even say it, when this fight, flight, freeze, fawn, response is kicking off, it can fire off what I call the two types of fear. We talk about these more in episode 29, which is the truth about do it scared, the antidote, and which are the two types of fear is trashing your confidence.

Speaker 1 (08:07)
But in essence, I talk about two types of fear. The first type is something I call legitimate fear. This is the body's very correct instinct to stop us doing things that are a bit stupid or dangerous in order to keep us alive. The second type of fear is something I call mind story fear. This is the worrying, the what-if-ing, the catastrophizing. All of that stuff that's going on in our heads where we play through scenarios of what could go wrong. And the problem is the body feels every thought you think. And because the body feels every thought you think, it can't tell the difference between mind story fears, catastrophizing, worrying, and what-if-ing. And legitimate fear saying, Claire, jumping out of that aeroplane with a glorified tablecloth on your back is possibly not your brightest idea. So when we're indulging what I call our inner drama gene, then it means It means that we're telling ourselves those stories about everything that could go wrong. And when something is down there at the values level of the imposter syndrome iceberg, it means it's so much more important to you that it cranks up the collateral. What is it that I've got to lose if I don't succeed in this?

Speaker 1 (09:17)
But also what have I got to lose if I do succeed in this? And suddenly I have to be visible and people listen to me. Everything that you can normally handle with coping strategies for imposter syndrome suddenly is in your face. This is why coping strategies are not enough yet. But this is also why mindset alone is not enough to clear imposter syndrome. So what can you do when this is going on? Well, the key is to look for the earliest warning sign you can find. And chances are that's not going to be your thoughts. It's really worth paying attention to the flinch factor, that in the body where something tightens, where you think about saying something or taking an action that moves you towards a goal that's really important to you. Then you can ask yourself the self-coaching question, and it's important to be brutally and compassion honest with yourself on this, okay? Is it really true or is it just imposter syndrome speaking? Is it really true or is it just imposter syndrome speaking? Let that answer bubble up. Ideally, ask your body. I know that probably sounds really strange, but your body is so much better at telling you the answers on these things than your thinking mind, which has overly rehearsed all of this mind story drama, what-if-ing and catastrophizing.

Speaker 1 (10:34)
Is it really true or is it just imposter syndrome speaking? And the word just there has got massive air quotes around it, because it can feel very real. But this question, this self-coaching question, can help you get back your perspective over what's happening, and it can help to pause the mind story drama. Then the next thing you need to do is you need to bring your stress levels down. While you're in the fight-flight freeze fawn, or the four P's of imposter syndrome, their best friend, perfectionism, procrastination, project paralysis, and people-pleasing, it's really hard to create change in the way we're responding, in the way we're experiencing. This is why in the natural resilience method, step one is press pause. Being able to press pause on the stress hormones, the cortisol, the adrenaline, everything else that's happening in the body when we're stressed, worried, and anxious. Actually, when we let go of the mind story drama, the catastrophizing, the worrying, the what-if-ing, you can bring your stress levels back down to neutral in under 60 seconds. As soon as we let go of the need to be stuck in the adrenaline, let go of the need to be firefighting or beating ourselves up.

Speaker 1 (11:47)
Now, I've actually got a gift for you today. There's a lot of stuff I want to teach you about this that actually it's not okay for me to be teaching you on a free public access podcast because some people listen to this while they're driving, for for example, or operating machinery, or out for a walk, or with their family. And these are techniques where I want you to be able to actually pause for a moment and use them and really fully experience them. So what I'm doing, I've got a course called the Imposter Syndrome Kickstart. It is a kickstart course for ditching imposter syndrome, for clearing out imposter syndrome. And it's got three paths to it: our thoughts, our emotions, and our actions. And what I'm going to encourage you to do is to go and do the emotions path. There's three core lessons in that with three techniques. One is an emergency stop button, fix, two, press pause on stress, worry, and anxiety. The second technique is a quick win, which is something that might take slightly longer to do, but even within a day or two is getting results for you. And the third one is then a breakthrough strategy that is still just a few moments a day, but it It takes a little bit longer to really kick in, and then it can actually help to prevent this for you.

Speaker 1 (13:07)
So that is the Ditching Imposter Syndrome Kickstart Course, and it's looking at the emotions path on that. Now, that is inside the imposter syndrome hacks app. And if you don't have it already, I am gifting it to you for 30 days. I'm going to give you 30 days membership at Courage Club membership level so you can go and do these techniques right away. To grab that gift, simply go to imposter syndrome hacks forward slash podcast and you can then get your immediate 30 day trial. If the imposter syndrome hacks app, get in there, look on the courses, on the app, find the kickstart, and go and do the path that says Emotions, to be able to press pause on that stress, the mind story drama, the worrying, the what-if-ing, and the catastrophizing. You felt the flinch, you've asked yourself, is this really true or is it just imposter syndrome speaking? To get your perspective back? And you've done one of the techniques that's in that kickstart training to be able to press pause and come back into neutral. And coming into neutral is so important because the body can not flip from super stressed out to taking inspired action.

Speaker 1 (14:20)
It has to go through neutral first. Otherwise, it's just going to head straight back to the stress cycle because it is full of the stress hormones. Those take techniques help you to get back through neutral. Then take the inspired action. Yeah, use micro courage. That's another training there for you in the app. Breathe in, breathe out, and do it. Okay? Micro courage. Tiny steps, tiny bits of courage that help us to then build towards confidence. And then when you've taken that action, something truly transformational that's perhaps one of the toughest things to do, but once you've nailed this, you're going to absolutely love it, is letting go of attachment to the outcome. I know that can feel really hard, but we cause ourselves so much pain by worrying, well, what if I don't get that opportunity? What if it doesn't happen? If there is nothing you can do in that moment to influence it, let that go. Just be. If you sit there and think, actually, I could do X, Y, Z, great. Note it down, wherever you note your actions and put a time commitment on when you're going to do it. And then let it go.

Speaker 1 (15:29)
By letting go of the attachment to the outcome, we save ourselves so much stress. And the more we can save ourselves stress, worry, and anxiety, the more likely we are to take the inspired actions that actually lead to that outcome. And while you're waiting for that outcome, go through the app and take some more of the actions to clear out imposter syndrome so it's not such a big issue for you next time around. But that's a tour of how the more important something is to us, the more likely it is to crank up our experience of imposter syndrome, increase the likelihood of self-sabotaging, and a few strategies you could start applying today to mean this doesn't have to be such a big issue for you. And I'd love to hear from you where we are discussing this podcast episode. And if you've got the app, we've got a discussion thread in there for this under the Kickstart Emotions bit in the Your Tribe discussion, private forum. What have you noticed about how the more something is important to you, the more it triggers imposter syndrome? And how might a process like the one that we've covered today make a difference for you to allow you to step up to make that difference you want to make with courage, confidence, and passion?

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