Overcome Feeling Like An Imposter

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A primer for the woman who seeks to powerfully grow her confidence.


Confidence: What It Is and Is Not

Confidence comes from the latin word cõnfïdere (con– completely + fidere to trust), meaning to have full trust.

Confidence sits on the delicate balance of playing small, or taking up less than your rightful space, and puffing up by taking up more than your rightful space (usually in an attempt to influence how others think of you).

You probably know what playing small feels like in the body. It feels like shrinkage, an urge to hide, to get lost in your phone, to avoid an uncomfortable situation, to stand against the wall, and avoid a seat at the table. 

You’ve probably seen someone puffing up. The chest is out, the voice is raised, they seem to have all the answers – even if no one asked them a question, and they relish in being the hero to save the day.

Feeling confident is that sweet spot when you intrinsically know who you are, what you bring to the table (and what you don’t), where you need support, and you trust yourself to figure things out – even if that simply means being honest and asking for help.

Sounds so simple, right?

The High-Performer Paradox: Why Feeling Like An Imposter Is Good For You

Almost every high-performer woman that I know has an imposter horror story.

I’m a Confidence Coach and full-time entrepreneur but not long before I wrote this post, I was a female technologist who wrote code for 18+ years and I suffered massively from feeling like an imposter as I began to step into leadership roles. I was the only woman, only Black, and the youngest on a tech team of men. 

Being a woman in a male-dominated space is hard enough but feeling like The Only One (in any space) can be lonely and unbearable. Especially if the voice in your head tells you that you are not enough. Feeling like a fraud will fuel overwhelm, burnout, and an acute lack of satisfaction. 

It will hold you back.

Feeling like an imposter, or fraud, is actually a gift. Yes, a gift.

Most High-Performers Suffer From Feeling Like An Imposter

Most high-performers suffer from feeling like an imposter. From Maya Angelou, the famous poet and author, to All-Star WNBA player Monique Currie. Many amazingly successful people who show up powerfully in the world often wonder if they deserve their success – in fact, they often seriously doubt that they deserve their success and secretly hope that no one finds out. So, if you are feeling like an imposter, you are in good company all around the world.

In fact, feeling like an imposter is a signal that you aim high and perform high.

The truth is that the inner imposter creeps up when you are:

  • stepping up to lead
  • doing something new and unfamiliar
  • leaning into your edge
  • letting others see you in a new way or role
  • telling others about your truest dreams and desires

So, if you are feeling like a fraud, then you are probably a high-performing leader and what you are experiencing is very normal.

Before you say, “I’m not a leader” or “I’m not a high-performer”, let me just tell you that most imposters respond similarly. Heck, I’ve said it myself many times! And I’m a pretty high performer although it took some deep inner work on myself to acknowledge that without feeling guilty.

The gift of feeling like an imposter is:

  1. a natural by-product of a high-performing quality and…
  2. one of your intrinsic drivers that pushes you towards excellence.

It’s true. The imposter is a feeling. All feelings are signals. Which means, your inner imposter is there to guide you to your truth. All you have to do is listen.

Feeling like an imposter means:

  1. you care deeply about the result.
  2. you want to do a good job.
  3. you simply might not know how to succeed.

That’s all!

So…how do you overcome the imposter?

The solution is surprisingly simple but it takes practice. First, let’s acknowledge that:

  1. caring about the result is a good thing
  2. wanting to do a good job is a good thing
  3. not knowing how to succeed is an easy problem to solve!

Wait! But, how is not knowing how to succeed an easy problem to solve?

I’ll explain more about that in a moment. For now, study the idea that feeling like an imposter is like a gremlin that dies when exposed to light. It can only survive in the dark silence of staying hidden. And this gremlin lives here:

You probably have an idea, really a narrative in your head, about what is expected of you. 

Because imposter can only live in the shadow of hidden shame. Once exposed to the light of truth and put on display, it dies a swift death like a snail in salt. 

When you believe that you are supposed to know more than you do, have more than you do, show up differently from how you do – especially because of what you think others expect – that is where feeling like an imposter lives. It makes us hustle to prove that we deserve our spot when, in fact, we already own our spot. We just don’t believe that “should” have it. That is a mind-trash game that fuels feeling like an imposter. And it is a mindset that begs to be checked because feeling like an imposter robs you of your power to perform authentically and it degrades your experience – even if you are doing something that you love. Take a deep breath and say: “I deserve a better experience.”

There are two things that will change the game for you forever (once you learn to practice them):

  1. Being radically honest about:
    • who you are
    • who you are not
    • what you know
    • what you don’t know (yet)
  2. Ask for help!

When your inner imposter shows up, acknowledge the feeling. If this is difficult, then I highly recommend getting a coach and support to help you work through the mind-trash that will hold you back. We work on acknowledging feelings in the confidence course because feelings are powerful guides to truth. The important thing is: don’t try to hide from your feelings or run from them or “push past it”. Remember, the gremlin thrives on your silence and only grows stronger with each experience in which you don’t acknowledge your true feelings.

// Truth bomb:

Feelings are powerful guides. They show you where you need to shift.

So, instead of suffering in silence and feeling disempowered by the feelings coming up for yourself, you can say, “Thank you, Imposter! I know that you are here to guide me!”

Then, here are two questions to ask yourself to overcome feeling like an imposter:

  1. What do I need to be honest about? And who do I need to be honest with? (including most importantly, yourself)
  2. What help do I need to ask for?

If asking for help is very difficult for you, then this is a very powerful shift that I invite you to make. As a connected, empowered human, asking for help is critical to survival and to happiness. We are designed to need support and to feel supported.

Confidence is a result of taking inspired action, not a requisite.


But, how do you overcome your own doubts?

The is only one way to overcome feeling like an imposter: by showing up to the fear and choosing to courageously take action. Confidence is not a requisite for doing scary things, it is a result. Overcoming imposter – and more importantly, finding your confidence – is an inside job!

Feeling like an imposter does not depend on any job, human, bot, social platform, experience, role, uncertainty, government or any other metric that is beyond your control.

  1. you always have the power
  2. there are two new practices to install: radical honesty and asking for help

I can tell you from my own experience and the experience of coaching dozens of women to overcome feeling like an imposter that when imposter takes over, we sometimes lose a grip on reality. Feelings are not facts. Your imposter doesn’t own you and it doesn’t control you. I spent 2 years suffering in silence, feeling like a fraud. Feeling like an imposter is disempowering and it will inhibit your effectiveness to be the kind of person / employee / entrepreneur that you desire to be. And you deserve to be who you desire to be.

Confidence Resources At Your Fingertips

Here are a few resources for you:

AFTER READING THIS POST

🔎 In what areas of your life or business are you already proof?

The Power of Authenticity: Building Trust with Your Audience by Showing Up

Editing Magic: How to Elevate Your Content with Post-Production Editing

Collaborations that Count: Navigating Partnerships in the Digital Realm

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