Imposter syndrome is a real thing. It is a painful thing when it happens, and it happens to all of us. It is normal.
Imposter syndrome typically involves thoughts that resemble I don’t feel like I know what I am doing. I feel as if I am not supposed to be here. They are soon going to figure out that I do not know what I am doing.
The feelings of being an imposter typically come on when we are doing something new. But, sometimes imposter syndrome happens after we have been doing the same thing for a while.
The Cycle – Working Harder (and Mental Challenges)
I was at a party when someone was talking about several well-known individuals who had taken their own lives, “I just don’t understand with all of that money and success why they would not want to be on this earth. Why wouldn’t they have enough self-confidence to realize that they had a really good thing going on?”
I carefully responded with my own thoughts. I think part of it is imposter syndrome. It can lead people to work harder and harder, just to keep up with the image of who they are. I have to keep up with who I am – just to have the personification of who I am. If I don’t, they (my fans, follower, etc.) are going to discover that I am not who they truly think I am. It becomes a consuming cycle – one that is difficult to live with. It can be exhausting, and it can lead to mental challenges, including drug or alcohol abuse.
Freezing in Place – Or Quitting
Imposter syndrome can hold people back from obtaining their goals, and it can freeze people in place. It can lead people to take steps backward and say, “I cannot do this anymore. This really isn’t me.”
We Are Unique Creations (Equipped by God)
There is nobody else more equipped in life to take on our roles in life than ourselves. We are given our gifts and our talents to carry out this duty. We are a unique creation from God, with unique life experiences, and subsequent gifts, talents, and strengths.
There may be people in the world that are similar to us, but they aren’t who we are. Nobody can bring to the world what we bring to the world.
Nobody has the same childhood, the same set of experiences, the same education. Nobody can fill our shoes in the respect of what God has asked us to do. Our calling and our goals are ours alone.
At first, when I was looking for a niche for this coaching business, all that I knew at that time was that I wanted to help women reach their goals. I wanted to help women bridge the gap (between where they are today and where they want to be). It sounded like real coaching terms, and they were real coaching terms, but I didn’t have a niche. Pastor Vince, my trainer, said to me, “Mary, you will find that niche, but until then your unique coaching business is you. You’re coming to this business with your experience. You’re coming to this business with your God-given talents and your God-given knowledge. There is nobody that can fill those shoes for you. You are the one designed to do this job, and that’s what makes Mary Humphrey Coaching unique.“
Perfection is a Four Letter Word
You are unique. You are not supposed to be perfect. And this is where narcissism can play into imposter syndrome. Have you ever been gaslighted with: “You aren’t good enough to do that,” “How do you dare do that in your life,” ” Look at the problems you have in your life, people don’t know who you really are”? Do not be sucked into the negative trap of believing these words!
Who you are is a gifting from God. Even if the bad experiences in your life create who you are today. It makes you the expert. It makes you the one who is driven to go out and do what you are doing today. It makes you the perfect person, not a perfect person, for the role that you are endeavored to complete – and that role might simply be to just be you!
Remember that perfect doesn’t happen. We aren’t designed to be perfect. We were designed to pick up our feet and do what we are being led to do. It does not include perfect. It includes always learning. We are always growing. We’ll never reach a state of perfection. That is is our goal!
I had a conversation with an entrepreneur who now has annual revenues in the 2 to 5 million dollar range. She talked about solopreneurs and how difficult it is to get away from the imposter syndrome. In her words, “It is real.” Even after many years, more than a decade of owning her business, she still experiences imposter syndrome from time to time.
She described imposter syndrome like a roller coaster. One day you are riding in the car going downhill and having so much fun. It feels thrilling. You are filled with enthusiasm and encouragement, “This is so much fun! I want to do this every single day of my life!” Then, the car may coast along for a while. You’re neither going up or downhill. All is well. And then, the chain starts to tighten up, and you’re tugging back up a hill. As you near the top, the car creeps along. It feels like a struggle. In comes imposter syndrome, “Oh my gosh, these people are going to figure out who I really am. Oh my gosh, am I equipped to do this job? Maybe I should just give up now. Maybe I should be doing this at all. I need to get out (of this car) now!”
The Invisible Lies that We Hear
So, there’s a couple of things going on here. One is that we are believing the little whisperings that are landing in our ears (especially if we consider ourselves Christian and we are walking in the path that we feel God has placed under our feet). It is spiritual warfare that we are up against.
We cannot believe the lies that we hear. Even if other people, such as a partner, or our children or parents, are telling us that we cannot be doing what we are doing, or that we are not worthy of that, we cannot listen to that. We cannot listen to the little lies that we hear in our head, because we are who we are. We are designed to do what we’re doing. It doesn’t matter what other people think.
Again, we have a unique set of experiences, and a unique relationship with God, and nobody else can replace that. Nobody else can do that. This is you, and yours alone.
Allow Your Heart to Lead You
What can you do to get rid of that feeling, the sense that you do not feel you have the right to be here? The first step is to let your heart lead. You don’t need to fit into a particular box. Just be you. And that is more than good enough.
Avoid the Push of Achievement
You may have grown up with a family, or maybe some of your friends, your peers, or people on social media who just look like they are so successful, but their success isn’t your model of success. You may not want to make a 6-figure income. You may only want to help others in a specific way. You may have a goal that doesn’t involve money. Even if people claim to be experts at what goals you need or must reach, only you know what you need to do. People are not the experts in your life. You don’t have to feel the push of achievement. You know what you need to do in life to get where you want to go, and you should do it one step at a time.
Just Be You – Not People-Led
You don’t have to take on one particular role to make other people happy. All you have to do is just be you. JUST BE YOU.
If you are a believer, then you are God-led. Not people-led.
Open Up – Talk with Those that Support You
So, how do you face the feelings of imposter syndrome? Open up and talk with those that support you. Talk to the people that you trust the most, those that have your back. Tell them how you are feeling. Ask them how they see you. It is okay to admit that you are having some doubts. That is perfectly fine—it is healthy!
Your Unique Why – Create an Outline
Sometimes writing our thoughts down helps us to find clarity. List out what your experiences are. How did you get where you are today? Even if you felt the nudge from the Holy Spirit to do what you doing, list that. List out your knowledge. List what you might still be learning. This will help you to remember (and create an outline of) what you do well and uniquely. You do all of this better than anyone else because it is yours!
You don’t have to look like the other entrepreneur, the other life coach, or the other author or speaker. You just need to look like yourself and be genuine to yourself.
Think about the things in your life that you could incessantly talk about for 30 minutes, and try to relate that to what you are doing, or your goals in life. As an example, as a life coach, there are several topics that I could talk about for 30 minutes without ceasing because they are dear to my heart and because I know this is the path that I am supposed to be on. So, what things in life can you talk passionately about for 30 minutes (or even 10, 20, or 25 minutes)? Include these things in our outline. Hello to the real you – goodbye to the imposter!
You’re on the right path, you’re not an imposter! Live your unique life exactly as you know you should. Just be true to yourself.
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Imposter syndrome is a natural and common phenomenon. It can occur due to low self-esteem and depression is not common (but can be associated). Please seek professional assistance for chronic depression, or any mental struggles that interrupt your ability to function in life.