Imposter Syndrome

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.

Disclaimer: This blog provides general information and discussions about coaching, aromatherapy, and related subjects. The information and other content provided in this blog, or any linked materials, are not intended and should not be construed as medical advice, nor is the information a substitute for professional medical expertise or treatment.

If you or any other person has a medical concern, you should consult with your health care provider or seek other professional medical treatment. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something that you have read on this blog or in any linked materials. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or emergency services immediately.

The opinions and views expressed on this blog and website have no relation to those of any academic, hospital, health practice, or other institution.

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.

How to Identify and Align to Your Core Values

I love to talk about and work from core values in my coaching because so much of what we do in life is (and should be) based on our personal core values, such as the action steps that we take, decisions that we make, and how we react to certain situations.

Our beliefs, values, and ideas make up the foundation that we should be living mentally healthy lives by.

Identity vs. Core Values

You might be wondering what is the difference between identity and core values.

Identity is our qualities, beliefs, personality, and the overall mission that we follow in life (such as a Christian identity in Christ). Identity is also how we see ourselves.

Our core values are what we live life by. Our values reflect the things that matter most to us.

Why Core Values Matter

When we are aligned with our core values, we live our lives with clarity and direction.

When we are unsure of our core values we live our lives feeling as if something is just not right. In life situations, misaligned core values cause us to feel confused like something is missing, and this tends to bring on feelings of stress and unhappiness.

When we do not know our core values, or when we are not aligned with them, we may not live our lives with healthy mental boundaries. We end up with all sorts of mental discomfort because we allow circumstances in our lives that are not healthy for us, and this often happens before we are aware.

Guard Your Affections

“Above all else, guard your affections, for they influence everything else in your life.” (Proverbs 4:23)

Let’s talk about affections. Affections are the things that you care about deeply (from your heart). Affections are the things that you love and you guard with your life.

Affections are not personal property or material things.

This verse speaks to me that we must make sure that we are being led by the values that we hold in our hearts.

We can feel many things in our hearts. We can feel discontent, for example, and this may lead us to think, Whoa, wait a minute, this isn’t like me! Or, you might take notice, There’s something wrong with this picture.

We should base our foundation of how we live our lives, as well as our emotional health, on our core values. Every choice that we make in life should be based on our values.

When we look at Proverbs 4:23 again, we can also say that it teaches us to be true to ourselves—be true to our core values, and especially be true to who we are in Christ Jesus.

Discover Your Core Values

Coaching (question asking) is a wonderful tool for learning about ourselves, and for determining if we are (or are not) aligned with our core values. The number of questions that we can dive into is limitless, but today we are covering just a few. (Stay tuned for future PDF worksheets that you can subscribe to.)

If you consider yourself a Christian, answer the additional portions of the questions that reference God or Christ, etc. If you are not a Christian, no problem, you can skip that part of the questions, or answer the questions based on the higher power that you believe in or pray to.

  1. I want you to list the top things in your life that you would never stop doing regardless of what someone else says or believes. For example, if you love the Lord Jesus Christ, you may be dedicated to never stop growing for him, and you may believe that nobody can stand in the way of your faith. Additional examples: You might be devoted to life-long learning. You may be highly focused and dedicated to personal and professional development. These are the things that you will not give up to anyone or anything.
  2. Think about the past 20 years and list 5 to 10 characteristics of you when you were at your best…when you were living your best self out of your values. You weren’t feeling any confusion, discontent, or stress at this time. You may not have been living the same core values that you do today, but you were aligned with your values and this brought peace and a sense of personal soundness into your life. For example, you have been fully devoted to a ministry, to putting God first in your life, to a business that served people, or to a consistent balance between life and work or a business.
  3. List the top 10 values that you believe are required to lead a successful and full life. Write this as though you are leading future generations. Remember, success is subjective. What you value as success does not need to match what someone else considers a success (no need to mirror or compare here).
  4. Do you see any similarities in your answers so far? You may have pinpointed your core values already. We can learn a lot about ourselves at this point!
  5. What do you value? Try to choose at least 5 things that you value. You may value something that you do not see on this list, so go ahead and write it down! (The list of core values is included at the bottom of this blog.)
  6. Return to the values that you selected in step 5. Determine your top 5 values and list them. These are your core values. Are you still seeing similarities in your responses in this exercise? Most of us do, and this is so freeing (to know our core values). It helps us reaffirm who we are in our lives (or who we are in Christ Jesus).

As you answer the following questions, you should be able to literally use your list of core values as your guide. When you are aligned with your core values, your life focus hones right into place.

Would your friends or family members be able to guess what y our top values are based on your lifestyle? Do they reflect a Jesus-led life?

When you look at your daily or weekly activities, how do they reflect on your values? What changes can you make to align with your core values?

What do you want to achieve today to align with your core values? What do you want to achieve in the future (a month, or a year from now) to align with your core values?

I do not want you to live a life of confusion or discontent. I want you to align with your core values. Remember that small steps are just as important as those that are large…in fact, lasting change is often found when we engage in small steps!

Mission Statement

Consider writing a values-driven mission statement. Create a short statement that includes your top core values…nothing lengthy.

Example: Your top values are faithfulness, commitment, and peace.

To help women build strong foundations in faith and commitment so that they find and live in the true freedom found in God’s peace.

Your mission statement can be business or personal-based.

We Change All the Time

Keep your core values and your mission statement (if you should choose to create one) in a handy place. Review them months from now, or even a year or more from now.

As we learn, as we grow as women, our core values shift. It is okay to pivot or to reinvent yourself. With your most recent core values under your belt, and with God at your side, you will have the best compass to lead your life!

Have you worked with core values before? If yes, how did it help you?

Core Values List (see question 5)

  • Authenticity
  • Achievement
  • Adventure
  • Authority
  • Autonomy
  • Balance
  • Beauty
  • Boldness
  • Compassion
  • Challenge
  • Citizenship
  • Community
  • Competency
  • Contribution
  • Creativity
  • Curiosity
  • Determination
  • Fairness
  • Faith
  • Fame
  • Friendships
  • Fun
  • Growth
  • Happiness
  • Honesty
  • Humor
  • Influence
  • Inner Harmony
  • Justice
  • Kindness
  • Knowledge
  • Leadership
  • Learning
  • Love
  • Loyalty
  • Meaningful Work
  • Openness
  • Optimism
  • Peace
  • Pleasure
  • Poise
  • Popularity
  • Recognition
  • Religion
  • Reputation
  • Respect
  • Responsibility
  • Security
  • Self-Respect
  • Service
  • Spirituality
  • Stability
  • Success
  • Status
  • Trustworthiness
  • Wealth
  • Wisdom
Action Step - Prayer Time for Women:

"I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."  (Galatians 2:20 NIV)

Heavenly Father, 

I try to live my life in a manner that reflects you, but I sometimes fall short. Please increase my faith to help me avoid distractions, such as the lies that the enemy whispers in my ear, or the busyness of life itself which acts as a distraction. 

You created me a unique person, and you gave me a destiny that is mine, and mine alone. I praise you, Father, for doing this for me. 

Please guide me to focus on the characteristics that you created for me to live my life by. I want to be the best that I can be as I serve you. Please unlock my heart and open my eyes so that I find my identity in you, and you alone. 

Please give me the wisdom to walk the path that aligns with the vision that you have for my future. 

In Jesus' name, 

Amen