Is your imposter syndrome causing you to fail?
As a helper, you might suffer from the same syndrome I have. The one where you fail to tell people how awesome you are because that’s not what helpers do. You might just be suffering from imposter feelings holding you back! In this article, we’ll explore how imposter thoughts, imposter feelings, and imposter syndrome might be limiting your ability to make an impact through your social business or non-profit.
Ready to Kick Your Imposter Syndrome to the Curb?
What’s Holding You Back?
When you’re a helper you usually don’t do it for recognition. We just help, no glory, money (it would be nice tho!), or recognition needed. We enjoy helping others and finding fulfillment in inspired service.
Or is that thought or feeling actually a limiting belief disguised as humility?
I’ve often wondered this when people compliment me. I, like many people, return the compliment or deflect the statement into a team effort. I used to get very uncomfortable when I had to tell others how great I am at something.
It’s just not my style. If it’s not your style, read on and consider if your compliment-deflecting behavior is really a tell-tale sign of imposter syndrome not allowing you to thrive.
What is imposter syndrome and why does it matter for social entrepreneurs?
Great question, glad you asked. Imposter syndrome is a collection of feelings, beliefs, and thoughts that cause you to doubt your abilities or feel like a fraud. I describe it a little more in this video from my recent training Beyond Imposter Syndrome.
Imposter thoughts occur when our limiting beliefs and self-doubt meet our inner dialogue. These thoughts are part of a pattern that is triggered by a stimulus. When you encounter the stimuli, these thoughts can prevent you from fully stepping into the opportunity that is presenting itself.
These imposter thoughts also trigger imposter feelings. Which is typically what we refer to as imposter syndrome or the collection of both these thoughts and the corresponding feelings.
Examples of imposter feelings include anxiety, self-doubt, fear, perfectionism, self-judgment, negative self-talk, over prepping, procrastination, fear of failure, dwelling on past mistakes, self-sabotage.
Feelings and thoughts that can make you feel as if you don’t deserve your success. You may think your achievements are due to luck, good timing, or just being in the “right place at the right time.” These thoughts and feelings might also be accompanied by fear of being exposed as a fraud.
Situations can trigger imposter thoughts and feelings. The good news is you can change the cycle by changing your response to situations or stimuli.
Reprogramming Your Brain
In Beyond Imposter Syndrome I explain exactly what this reprogramming looks like.
In short, it’s a cycle where we interrupt our negative thought patterns and start to question the root of them. When you get curious and start exploring you’ll be surprised what you find.
Many imposter thoughts and feelings are rooted in our personal experiences, past traumas, and self-created narratives.
To learn more about how to interrupt these patterns and start saying yes to opportunities that create an impact, check out the mini-course here.
Fighting Imposter Feelings Matters for Social Entrepreneurs
Back to the all-helping and no-glory, where we started this article. When you begin to explore the root of your imposter feelings and imposter thoughts, you might find some interesting stuff.
I know I did!
I discovered that I have trouble talking about how awesome I am, or how I’ve done amazing things in my lifetime.
The root of this issue is me! (Ohh yea, spoiler alert! You’re probably your own problem too!)
I discovered that I hate people who brag, and when I tell people about myself I feel like I’m bragging.
This is definitely a limiting belief for a social entrepreneur because business is based on telling people how awesome you are (and then proceeding to be awesome).
If you have this limiting belief too, you are definitely suffering from whatever random helper syndrome I have.
In my head it was computing like this:
I like helping people and I feel good about helping others. That means, I don’t need recognition for it and when I tell people about my good work they’ll think I’m bragging. Then they won’t want to do business with me.
If you’re going to be successful at social business, making an impact is only half the equation. The other half is telling people that you’re making an impact.
You’re going to have difficulty explaining your impact if limiting beliefs don’t allow you to talk about the amazing work you’re doing.
That means you have to reprogram your brain to break up with these imposter thoughts and feelings so you can start showing how you are making an impact. That will help funders, grantors, donors, clients, and fans better understand you and what you’re trying to do.
I had to tackle my imposter syndrome and the corresponding limiting belief that people would think I’m bragging. I am reprogramming my brain to say something more like this:
“Thanks for that feeling of fear, it helps me always understand that I’m taking what I’m doing seriously. However, I know all the amazing things I’ve done in the past and my ideal clients likely haven’t heard these stories yet. If I share this with them, it might help someone on their journey, and that’s you fulfilling your purpose- not bragging.”
The reprogramming time between the original imposter thought or feeling and the reprogrammed thought has gotten shorter the more I practice this technique.
When you’re a person who wants to step out and take the next big jump to the end of your comfort zone, tacking these thoughts and feelings is important for your success.