Look at us all.   We are all, on the surface at least and to all intents and purposes, confident, strong, wise, resilient women.  Each and every one of us has a lifetime of personal, educational and professional experiences, obstacles overcome, achievements and happenings.

Aaah, but on the inside?   When we put ourselves to the risk wire, what are the thoughts and feelings that swim to the surface?  Do these resonate?:

“I’m afraid I’m going to look stupid;

I’m going to fail this exam;

I’ll never get this sale through;

I’ll never be able to make enough to live on;

I don’t deserve this; they must have made a mistake, asking me to do this.”

In my research for my Self-Compassion programme, I’ve discovered tons of research into the Imposter Syndrome, in particular a paper titled The Impostor Phenomenon in High Achieving Women.”

This proposes that women ‘were uniquely predisposed to the Imposter phenomenon, since success for women is contraindicated by societal expectations and their own internalised self-evaluations.”  

Did you know that at one stage Jodie Foster thought she’d be forced to hand back her Oscar?  Renowned author Neil Gaiman admits to feeling like a fraud; the ubiquitous Sheryl Sandberg has had moments of impostorism. [What a great word!]   And the imposter experience is equally felt by males and females.   It’s just that men may be less likely to talk about feelings of feeling fraudulent. Clance’s research has shown that ‘chronic self-doubt tends to hold women back more than men’ ….. [adding]  ‘whether women are more held back by chronic self-doubt than by discrimination and systemic obstacles is open to debate’.

Here are the underlying truths as I see them – what do you think?

  •  Everyone who’s successful owes some of their success to luck; everyone; –
  • Most people have a tough time accepting compliments; –
  • Yes – there may some people around you who are more skilled and intelligent in their particular field than you are.  That’s life.  No reason for you to feel like an imposter or fraud.

Suggestions to manage feeling like a fraud:

^   Prepare beforehand.  Consider the situation.  If everything about it is new and unfamiliar, allow yourself some leeway to learn.  Do not blag your way through it.  Be honest – acknowledge that you are in learning phase.  Your colleagues will appreciate this far more than somebody who’s trying to wing it.

^   As part of your preparation, become consciously aware of your top five strengths. How can you use those, and any of your strengths, to help you navigate the situation? [For a brilliant exercise to help you complete a Strengths Test, simply email me: trudy@trudyarthurs.com]

^   Breathe!  Yup, that old favourite.  Your breath is the most amazing tool you have.  Without forcing in any way, allow your breathing to deepen to your diaphragm, pause before speaking in reply to a question, gather your information inside, speak slowly and carefully.

And finally :  small note:  I always find that when I keep my feet firmly on the floor, I feel much more stable throughout my body in these situations. So, Wise Wonderful Women, I’m guessing you have your own ways of working through these situations.  I’d love to hear from you with your thoughts on this feature.

To find out how you can join the new Autumn Self-Compassion Way programme. email trudy@trudyarthurs.com; you can also send your questions and feedback and thoughts which I’d love to receive. Visit www.trudyarthurs.com to subscribe for my regular free newsletter – you’ll receive a free Compassionate Confidence e-book when it’s published. Looking forward to connecting with you, really soon.

© Dancing Leopards Ltd 2016