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It appears even legends doubt themselves! Imposter syndrome and how to deal with it.

Sir Michael Parkinson
Image: Shutterstock

The late Sir Michael Parkinson was a renowned broadcaster, a legend and British treasure, known for his iconic interviews with celebrities such as Muhammad Ali, John Lennon and Madonna. His on-screen persona was one which oozed self-confidence and yet his son has recently revealed that he struggled with feelings of insecurity, was wracked with self-doubt and “constantly questioned himself” throughout his long career. It seems that he suffered from Imposter Syndrome.

Imposter syndrome is a psychological pattern whereby an individual doubts their accomplishments and has an internalised fear of being exposed as a fraud. They find it difficult to believe that they deserve success and despite there being clear evidence that this is due to their own capabilities, they attribute their success to other things such as timing, luck, or external influences.

Imposter syndrome can be debilitating and have a profound effect on both an individual’s personal and professional life.

Implications include:

Mental and emotional strain – the constant fear of being “found out” or labelled as a fraud can led to anxiety, low self-esteem and even depression.

Overworking – the need to “prove” themselves can lead to many individuals with imposter syndrome overworking, causing burnout, sleep deprivation and negatively impacting overall health and well-being.

Avoidance of opportunities – a fear of being exposed, even though they are proficient or professionally qualified can lead to new challenges or opportunities not being taken, limiting career development and personal growth.

Decreased job satisfaction – constant self-doubt and feeling as though they don’t belong in a role or working environment can lead to a sense of detachment. This low morale can lead to job disengagement.

Lack of creativity – a fear of being judged or making mistakes can curtail creativity, leading to tried and tested “safer” solutions taking president over innovative approaches.

Strain on personal relationships - others may become frustrated over the constant seeking of approval or inability to accept compliments because of stress and self-doubt exposed by imposter syndrome, putting a strain on relationships with family, friends, or colleagues.

Implications for physical health – the stress and anxiety created through imposter syndrome can lead to health issues including headaches and gastrointestinal problems.

Recognising the impacts of imposter syndrome is the first step to dealing with it. If you are struggling with imposter syndrome strategies which can help you to overcome it include:

Talking to trusted colleagues, mentors or a professional about your feelings - It’s highly likely that they will have experienced or had an insight into this in some way themselves!

Documenting your successes – keeping a journal of your achievements, goals reached, and praise received records the evidence and provides somewhere which you can revisit when self-doubt creeps back in.

Practicing self-compassion – talking to yourself as you would if you were talking to a close friend and using positive self-affirmations can help to counter negative self-talk. Reframe failure as a step towards learning and self-growth.

Limiting comparison – in today’s world of digital technology it can be especially difficult to not compare yourself with others. Remember that everyone is on their own unique journey, making comparisons can not only prove to be unproductive but also increase the unhelpful feelings within imposter syndrome.

Hypnotherapy can be an absolute game changer when it comes to imposter syndrome. It helps by: -

Reaching the subconscious – hypnotherapy bypasses the conscious mind to reach the subconscious where deep-rooted beliefs are held and the causes of imposter syndrome can be found and dealt with.

Positive reinforcement – positive affirmations which help to restructure a negative or unhelpful belief system can be given during hypnotherapy sessions, which over time replace self-doubt with self-assurance.

Visualisation techniques – positive scenarios, during which an individual sees themselves as confident and self-assured can be created though visualisation techniques used in hypnotherapy. These can then be used as a blueprint in real life situations.

Healing past trauma – sometimes imposter syndrome can be connected to a past trauma. Hypnotherapy can help to release the blockages caused by this promote healing and self-assurance.

Relaxation – hypnotherapy is very relaxing, helping to reduce stress and anxiety, as well as diminish the feelings associated with imposter syndrome.

Imposter syndrome can affect anyone. If you are plagued by imposter syndrome, remember that you are not alone in your fight against it. While self-awareness, mentorship, and positive self-talk play key roles in helping you to rise above it, there are therapies available, such as hypnotherapy, which can help to target the very core of the issues and provide a solution.

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