“The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease for ever to be able to do it.”
The ‘Imposter Phenomenon’ or Imposter Syndrome is where you feel that your achievements are undeserved and that in some you are a fraud. It’s estimated that around 70% of people will have at least one episode of this in their lifetime at some point and it affects both men and women.1 So, do you have a little voice inside your head telling you that you are not good enough and that one day you will be ‘found out’? Most internal dialogue is useful, such as the benefits of reminding yourself to look both ways when crossing a street, solving a problem by running potential solutions through your head and also checking that what you are about to say to someone will be received as you intended. But there are times when that internal voice is that of your inner critic, the part of you that doesn’t believe in your skills and capabilities. This part may even be with you 24/7, turning on as soon as you wake up and continuing a barrage of put downs, ‘I’m so stupid! How could I do that?!’ and self-doubt, ‘They must think I can’t do this job’, right up to lights out. How exhausting. And how damaging is this to your self-esteem and confidence? The side effects of this constant onslaught of negative thoughts being voiced can include depression and anxiety. Ineffective methods for silencing this voice include; arguing with it, seeking distractions such as alcohol, drugs and over eating, and taking medication to deal with the side effects rather than dealing with the cause. Here is the good news; that inner voice is a part of you and a part of your neurology, and therefore under your control. We all have an inner critic yet we are not all reacting the same way to it. Those who have high self-esteem will have strategies for managing the voice, such as imaging they have a volume dial that they can control the voice with or imagining that it is a barking dog that is tied up and they just walk on past it2. These strategies are ways to help decide whether or not they will listen to the voice or not. So here is a very simple way of dealing with your inner critic: start of by becoming aware of how you talk to yourself when things are not going according to plan or when self-doubt creeps in. Notice the types of words you are using with yourself and also pay attention to the tone you are using. Is it your voice or someone else’s such as a parent or teacher, what volume is it, and what pitch. Notice how the voice is making you feel? Keep talking to yourself negatively but change the voice to that of Mickey Mouse, lower the volume and talk in a sing-song way. Now, how do you feel? Better, right? In fact, how can you take that voice seriously? You can’t! Keep using this technique whenever you hear that voice and pretty soon you will be able to very quickly ignore it altogether! Now you have a quick and easy strategy for deciding whether to listen that voice or not.
“Once we believe in ourselves, we can risk curiosity, wonder, spontaneous delight, or any experience that reveals the human spirit” ― E.E. Cummings
Want to learn more about how NLP can change your life? Sign up for the NLP Introduction Day on 30th August in Dublin. Go on to attend the NLP Practitioner Course and you will get this fee refunded towards the fee. NLP Practitioner courses are now accredited with the ANLP in the UK. Warm regards Sara Haboubi MA, BSc, certified trainer NLP, Time Line Therapy, Speed Reading and Empowering Learning. Accredited Trainer/Provider ANLP References 1 Article ‘The Imposter Phenomenon’ by Jaruwan Sakulku and James Alexander, published in The International Journal of Behaviour Science 2011 Vol. 6 No.1 73-92. 2 Transforming Negative Self-Talk by Steve Andreas