Can you relate to this? Have you recently and thought…
“ I’m not good enough for this”
“ I don’t deserve to be here.”
“ I feel like a fake”
“ It’s all my fault ”
If so you’ve probably felt deflated and low in confidence. This is the reactive part of our brain at work. Although important for survival instinct, in situations like this, it feeds us exaggerated, unhelpful and limiting beliefs. These limiting thoughts are the imposter syndrome: A sense of inadequacy that persists despite evident success, feeling like a fraud or like you're going to get 'found out'.
If nothing changes, these limiting beliefs can govern much of our thoughts, feelings and behaviour each day, often without us realising. They make us feel deflated and low in confidence which limits our potential because these thoughts and feelings start impacting our behaviour... - Not taking opportunities
- Retreating socially
- Not speaking up for what's right
So, what's going on beneath the surface here? Well, in our brain there are 86 billion neurons, these are specialised cells transmitting information. When we think, feel or do something a certain way, these neurons build pathways to transmit the information. When we think, feel, or do something often these pathways strengthen, it becomes easier for us to think, feel or do this thing and when repeated this becomes habit.
The more we follow the limiting beliefs of imposter syndrome the stronger the pathways become in our brain, we believe these thoughts to be true and the associated behaviour of not speaking up, not taking opportunities and retreating become the norm and habit... which is why I said this can happen without us realising. The pathways have become so engrained that we don't realise there's another way.
We're stuck in this vicious cycle...
SOMETHING HAPPENS (GOOD OR BAD!) --> LIMITING BELIEF --> LOWERS CONFIDENCE --> DEFLATED --> RETREAT
When you start looking, you realise just how many limiting beliefs our brain feeds us and just how much we’re unknowingly blinded by them each day!
Good news, there is another way! These neurons of ours aren't fixed. As we think, feel and do things differently neurons rewire and form new connections meaning we CAN break away from limiting beliefs and behaviours driven by imposter syndrome thoughts.
We are not chained to our current capabilities and habits
So, How can we abolish imposter syndrome and lead a resilient, confident and happy life?
3 evidence based steps....taken from The Pocket Mentor toolkit
Our limiting beliefs are so engrained and immediate that we may not initially realise they're there...
For example, your boss comes in with an opportunity to represent the company at an event. The instant reaction is "I'm not good enough for that" and you stay quiet and don't put yourself forward for it.
We can build our ability to recognise unhelpful limiting beliefs with Mindful Moment breathing exercises, short breathing exercises that build our focus and awareness of our thinking mind.
Mindfulness isn't about clearing the mind, it's about building awareness of when our mind has got lost in thought and refocusing our attention without judgement. In doing so we're building the ability to recognise we don't need to follow thoughts, thoughts aren't always facts, we always have choice over which thoughts we follow.
The more we do this, the stronger the neuron pathways become and the better we become at pausing, recognising the immediate unhelpful limiting belief thought when it arises and NOT chasing them, instead of chasing it believing it and letting it impact our feelings and actions negatively. With this pause and recognition pathway we're starting to build helpful responses.
SOMETHING HAPPENS --> LIMITING BELIEF --> PAUSE
The Pocket Mentor app provides a daily Mindful Moment exercise to support this. You can try the toolkit free for 7 days here...
Now we can move onto step 2...
We can then replace unhelpful thoughts with empowering statements that build our confidence. These are commonly known as affirmations or mantras.
I am enough
I am exactly where I need to be
My strength in [fill in the blank] can support me
Mistakes are stepping stones to improvement
Each day I am growing and learning
Guess what... the more we say empowering statements, the more The key to affirmations is tailoring them to you and your specific challenge, they must be meaningful to you. The Pocket Mentor affirmation tool provides a daily template and prompt to guide you here.
We repeat these affirmations to ourselves, out loud preferably, to signal to our brain this is important. This builds the next step in our new helpful habit....
SOMETHING HAPPENS --> LIMITING BELIEF --> PAUSE --> EMPOWERING STATEMENT
Now is the final step
The key to making impactful change to overcome the imposter syndrome for good is repetition. We don't do 1 workout and walk out with a six pack, consistency and turning up each day is how we make change and it's the same here.
We need to do this often to maintain the changes we want and have put so much effort into crafting.
We do this with a daily mental wellbeing workout, using tools like Mindful Moments and Affirmations to strengthen and maintain these new helpful pathways we're building.
If we build a six pack and stop exercising the six pack disappears. In our brain, if we don't continually use a neuron pathway it weakens, meaning it becomes harder for us to use it, so if we use these tools inconsistently our ability to recognise and replace unhelpful thoughts weakens.
We need to build using Mindful Moments and Affirmations into a mental wellbeing workout habit to make the impactful change to our confidence and happiness we want and deserve.
Set reminders so you don't forget. You can set reminders within The Pocket Mentor app for each tool.
Bolt them on to other habits you already have - saying your affirmations after brushing your teeth, or completing a Mindful Moment exercise whilst the kettle boils. Kindness - building new helpful habits can be tough (you can use an affirmation to build self compassion to help!). If you miss a day that's ok, start again and come back tomorrow.
The more we use a pathway the stronger it gets, the old road weakens over time. If we stop building the new helpful way the pathway will weaken.
This 3 step process enables us to build a helpful habit in our brain and completes our new 'way'....
SOMETHING GOES WRONG --> LIMITING BELIEF --> PAUSE --> EMPOWERING STATEMENT --> CONFIDENCE BOOST --> TAKE POSITIVE ACTION Either stay stuck in the imposter syndrome vicious circle or start implementing these three steps to lead the confident, resilient and happy life you deserve. Join The Pocket Mentor 7 day free trial here.
Download our Pocket Mentor app to get started....