This episode is going to be an interesting one because I never heard about this term until about a few months ago. I don’t know if you have heard of it, but it’s a prevalent phenomenon that happens with a lot of people. It impacts a lot of coaches, entrepreneurs and small business owners, although it shows up whenever there is more responsibility added to one’s plate. Often it happens to people who get promoted into management positions, as well as people who are in the service or teaching industries. It’s called Imposter Syndrome and it has been one if not the biggest self-sabotaging components towards my personal success.
Imposter Syndrome is a feeling of inadequacy around one’s capabilities. It shows up as a fear of being exposed as a phony or a fraud. This psychological condition forces a negative self-perception as being incompetent or a failure, even though there is plenty of evidence of being successful. It’s a filter that the mind looks through which constantly tells you that you are doing it wrong. The place where it limits most people is charging more for their services because they are afraid of not being able to produce the results.
This is where Imposter Syndrome has impacted me the most. I personally think I’m an incredible coach and I have a multitude of skillsets when it comes to helping people change patterns and behaviors. Primarily because I’ve had to overcome so much, from substance abuse, depression, self-criticism, avoidant personality disorder, learned helplessness, and more. When I stumbled upon Imposter Syndrome, after never hearing of it before, I said to myself, “What else am I going to have to overcome?” After all the work I’ve put it in, it gets a little frustrating when something completely new pops up on my radar.
I would not be the person I am today and I wouldn’t be able to help my clients as well as I do if it wasn’t for my own personal journey. I ended up becoming the Mind Guy because of my story and my many years of struggle. Now that I know how to work with the subconscious mind and clear these things, stumbling upon Imposter Syndrome I now see as a blessing. I’m also going to share with you that I may be the only person who has ever made the connection on how to quickly and effectively clear Imposter Syndrome.
I am going to go into detail into my discovery, based on the help of Dr. Valerie Young who is an expert on Imposter Syndrome. She defines it in a specific way that made me realize how to clear these feelings of inadequacy and incompetence in a short period of time. It took me only a week, but when I work with clients it takes about month of working together to be able to do so.
I want to first share a little more about what Imposter Syndrome is and how it personally affected me and my life. It was strong when I was working in the precast concrete industry. I just graduated with a Civil Engineering Degree from UMass Amherst and felt like I didn’t learn much of anything. I did the bare minimum of work to get by. Keep in mind it took me 8 ½ years to get my undergrad after taking a year and half break to get sober. I switched my major about 5 times during that span and wasn’t passionate about Civil Engineering but it was the fastest track to a degree, so I took it.
After college, now I’m responsible for checking shop prints of $20,000 pieces of concrete and making a mistake is costly. In any industry you are going to end up making a mistake and I did from time to time. I hated making mistakes and sometimes supervisors on the construction site would call in to ask a question about a piece because something wasn’t fitting properly. When my manager Joe would get those calls I was petrified that they were calling about a piece I checked. I could hear Joe on the phone from my cubicle and my heart would sink into my stomach, hoping I wouldn’t be exposed as an incompetent fool.
I remember through a really bad stretch in my life I ended up in a not so great head space. This was right after the engagement with Katie ended, where I made three costly mistakes that led to three pieces needing to be remade. It reinforced my Imposter Syndrome and the feelings of incompetence and inadequacy grew intensely during this period of time. I ended taking over Joe’s position when he retired and now I was in meetings with other department heads and really smart people all the time. I just kept my mouth shut and said the bare minimum because I didn’t want to be exposed as a phony.
The funniest thing is that time and time again, everyone would tell me how smart I was. I was well respected for my intellect and the Imposter Syndrome didn’t fit the persona that others saw me. It was just the way I saw myself. The constant positive feedback didn’t make any difference to the way I perceived myself as a fraud, it would just gently brush off my skin. This gives you an example of how powerful the subconscious mind is. It didn’t matter how much validation I would receive from the outside world, because it couldn’t penetrate past the critical faculty into my subconscious mind.
It was even more impactful when I became self-employed. Now I’m responsible for all the work. Working for someone else gives you a structure and accountability where fear dominates and forces you to do the work regardless of how you are feeling. When you are self-employed the only fear that drives you is the fear of being homeless, otherwise you may just end up doing the bare minimum in order to survive and that’s exactly what I was doing for two years.
I felt completely uncomfortable and inadequate at networking events and meeting new people. I hated sharing myself and what I did because I felt like a complete phony. Deep down I didn’t want new clients because I didn’t want to mess up and not have them receive the results they came to me to get. On occasion that would happen. I have an over 95% success rate, yet the few times it didn’t work out is what always stands out in the front of my mind. A big part of the responsibility is the client, but I’m also the facilitator and I beat myself up pretty hard when results aren’t produced.
This is how dangerous Imposter Syndrome is, even though 95% of the time I’m experiencing success, my mind can only focus on the 5% of failures. Something I don’t necessarily agree with is that it shows up most frequently in high achievers. I think Imposter Syndrome affects all walks of life and I don’t categorize myself as a higher achiever. I am someone that continues to plug away, while moving forward at a pace that works for me.
Now I want to get into the discovery I made from an article about Dr. Young an expert in this field of Imposter Syndrome. She breaks the syndrome down into five different subcategories. The subcategories are the Perfectionist, the Super Woman or Man, the Natural Genius, the Soloist, and the Expert. As soon as I read this, it opened the door to what I’ve learned through my work with the subconscious mind.
What Dr. Young breaks down into subcategories are a breakdown of parts, characters or archetypes that show up whenever triggered. If you have done parts works there are techniques to heal, integrate and let go of parts while working on a subconscious level. This is exactly what I did on my own during the quarantine. I found a few other parts as well that were impacting my confidence as a coach.
I’ll go into a little greater detail into these parts that Dr. Young discusses. I’ll start with the Perfectionist which is a very common archetype amongst people. Do you feel like your work needs to be 100% perfect 100% of the time? The perfectionist sets goals for themselves, often high, and when they don’t reach those goals they have a lot of self-doubt and worry about their capabilities. This archetype cannot enjoy success because it’s never satisfying. These are the micromanagers who have difficulty delegating tasks, always needing to do it themselves to ensure perfection. This is one of the parts that may be influencing your Imposter Syndrome.
The next part is the Super Woman or Man. These are the people who constantly don’t feel like they measure up amongst their peers so they have to work extremely hard to prove their value and worth. These people come in early or work late hours and get stressed when they don’t have something to get accomplished. These super humans are actually suffering on the inside because they are constantly seeking validation from the work they are able to generate. This displays a lack of self-confidence and inability to give self-validation.
The Natural Genius is the next part that can be a source of Imposter Syndrome. These are the people who were born with a high intelligence and needed to put in little effort to achieve at school. All they had to do is show up for class and they would get A’s. This part is great at self-sabotaging because as soon as something doesn’t come easy to them they go into a mode of self-shame and frustration. These people lose all their confidence when they reach a setback, making it difficult to move forward. The Natural Genius struggles with growth because they avoid doing things that make them feel uncomfortable. They simply want to do the things they are good at.
The next part often associated with Imposter Syndrome is the Soloist. These are the people who can but won’t ask for help. They are fiercely independent and rather try to figure it out themselves, losing time instead of getting assistance. The Soloist partly does it because they need to prove their own worth, but it could also be lumped into not wanting to be a burden on others. There is often an overlap in parts and programs that impact an issue someone is facing. Each and every one of us is unique in our limiting programming.
The last part that Dr. Young connects with Imposter Syndrome is the Expert. The Expert measures themselves based on how much they know and get trapped into this belief that they will never know enough. They are constantly seeking training and knowledge to fill in the gap and improve their skill sets. This unfortunately leads to procrastination, instead of just doing what they already know to do.
Do any of those five parts resonate with you? Imposter Syndrome is a common issue that people deal with. Up to 70% of individuals will experience it at one point in their life. Now the question is -- what can you do about it? There are two approaches as far as I see it. The first approach is being aware of when these things pop up and doing internal work to break through the pattern of these parts. For example, you could realize you are being a Soloist and decide to actually ask for help. Do the opposite of what the part wants you to do.
The other faster and more effective way is to work with the unconscious mind to heal, integrate or remove the parts that are negatively influencing your quality of life. I often do parts integration through NLP or use hypnosis to heal the parts. Now what I realized as well is that these five parts don’t encapsulate all of Imposter Syndrome. They are a great starting point, because I could see four of those parts within my own behavior. The only one that didn’t resonate was the Super Man character.
Some of these parts have other underlying issues around limiting core beliefs. There could be a lack of worth and value present. Often I see people who don’t feel as if they are enough or simply feel as if they are not good enough. It doesn’t matter, in approximately six session we can discover and clear all those limiting programs getting in the way of your truest confidence. The way you change your life is by reprogramming the mind. That’s how it works folks. Please check me out on Instagram @Thomas_themindguy.