• Renea Skelton, PhD

Your Self-Doubt May Be a Syndrome!

Are you hiding a dirty little secret? You may be unaware that you are. You are possibly among many individuals whose secret is…you are a fraud!

The word “fraud” can be viewed as intense, and even quite harsh, so you may still be unsure...and a little uncomfortable. I get it.

I challenge you to dive a little deeper and answer the below questions to help uncover the secret that you MAY be unaware of:

1. Do you feel as if your accomplishments are a result of unexpected luck?

2. Do you seek out excessive training and certifications because you think you need to improve your skills to succeed and then accuse yourself of not being cut out for a certain job or task, possibly saturating yourself with negative self-talk?

3. Do you believe that you have not truly earned your title despite the many degrees and achievements you received and decide to work harder and longer to prove your worth?

4. When you encounter a setback, do you find that your confidence declines because you would rather feel doubt than the heavy burden of shame?

If you answered “yes,” this is a direct indication of Imposter Syndrome. Still not yet convinced? No problem. How about these common everyday examples:

When someone remarks positively on the style of your clothing and you quickly state something to the effect of, “this old thing?” Or they comment on how your hair is perfect that day and you state, “Oh! But I didn’t wash it in a while…it’s not even brushed!” Those responses are an indication of Imposter Syndrome.

Over 70% of the United States population suffers from this syndrome. It is a belief that you are inadequate despite evidence that indicates you are skilled and quite successful. With this syndrome, there is an underlying fear that others will “find you out” and discover who you truly are – someone that does not reflect what your credentials state. It is not a disorder but a psychological phenomenon in which individuals are unable to internalize their accomplishments.

Individuals who portray this syndrome often call their success luck or good timing. Unfortunately, Imposter Syndrome can limit our courage to go after new opportunities, explore potential areas of interest, and put ourselves out there in a meaningful way…one that is aligned to our purpose. We tell ourselves that we are impostors. Sometimes so much, it starts to feel true.

Statistics indicate that Imposter Syndrome impacts men and women in roughly equal numbers, but women tend to be more vocal with responses versus their male counterparts who think about it but decide not to vocalize or justify it. This syndrome can not only be damaging in self-talk but can diminish credibility within yourself and how others see you. Additionally, it can threaten business and personal relationships. So how do you stop it?

When I coach or consult individuals who portray this syndrome, we develop a plan, infused with action steps, to help mitigate the loss of credibility that they drown themselves in. One very simple technique that you can try on yourself is when someone provides you a compliment, do not immediately justify the comment by saying that your hair is not brushed, or your attire is old. Simply say, “thank you.” It sounds very easy, right? If you have been suffering from Imposter Syndrome for some time, you may have difficulty when putting this into action. Take a short breath after the comment, look at them and smile, then say “thank you.” Remember, it is their gift to you so do not discredit it…nor yourself. You deserve that compliment – so take it!

As I stated above, women tend to vocalize and justify compliments and I have found that it usually derives from not wanting their ego to be a factor. For example, women believe that when they say “thank you,” it may appear as being conceited, hence allowing their ego to take over. Imposter Syndrome is then revealed and takes over - don’t allow this to occur.

There are many more techniques in which I can provide (but a blog is not the place to do so). If you are interested, reach out to me and I can share additional action steps that are proven to place you in the direction in which you intend to go. This is a very common syndrome which can be mitigated - so you can succeed in business and in life.

Don’t let the person you THINK you are define who you TRULY are.