In fact, I told her to f*%k off. It was high time.
Who is Fredericka you might be asking? She happens to be that little voice of doubt; that little niggle; that stone in the shoe; that alter-ego who really has not served my greater purpose at all.
She has been that voice of self-doubt; that voice passing down her feelings of inadequacy. That voice where I thought I was an intellectual fraud.
She is the voice of Impostor Syndrome.
Wikipedia describes Impostor Syndrome as follows:
Impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon, impostorism, fraud syndrome or the impostor experience) is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their skills, talents or accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud”. Despite external evidence of their competence, those experiencing this phenomenon remain convinced that they are frauds, and do not deserve all they have achieved. Individuals with impostorism incorrectly attribute their success to luck, or interpret it as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent than they perceive themselves to be. While early research focused on the prevalence among high-achieving women, impostor syndrome has been recognized to affect both men and women equally.
The words “doubts skills, talents and accomplishments to being exposed as a fraud” and “attributing my success to luck” rung true for me.
So, Fredericka had to go!
She came from a time past where I belonged to one of my first online groups, and I was too afraid to tell them my real name.
I was afraid that I might be exposed as a fraud.
She grew some power from there.
Fredericka kept Robyn-Lee, me, from understanding that the success that I was achieving wasn’t due to my efforts. I am glad that I became aware of her motives early on.
I must interject on my words that I am writing here, to say that this blog post is not intended to downplay or supersede professional guidance with this particular syndrome.
It only offers to trigger awareness to the reader, and for them to know that help is at hand and that you are not alone.
A few Characteristics to look out for:
- Sabotaging your own success – I am (still) big on this one;
- Unable to realistically assess your competence and skills;
- Overwhelming fear that you won’t live up to expectations;
- Feelings of inadequacy;
- Rebuking your performance;
- Striving for perfection because the smallest mistake is agony for you;
- Extremely sensitive to constructive criticism;
- Admiration for other’s success but believing that you are not fit for the likes of them;
- Worrying that others will realise how little you know;
- Not able to accept praise in the spirit in which it is given, and perhaps feeling like you dodged a bullet because you thought you did a bad job;
- Believing that you are not capable of lasting success.
If any of these ring true for you, you are likely a sufferer.
It is interesting to note that around 70% of people will experience this phenomenon during their lives. This might also be a sign of some other underlying issue that highlights your need for extra support.
Some of the Tactics that I use:
As with most things in life, we all require some strategies to boost our performance. Whether that is the extra practice at public speaking; or writing in a public forum or even just posting your opinion onto a social media platform, and being resilient enough to receive the backlash that might ensue because all don’t accept your opinion.
It is how we manage our reactions, and for introverts in particular these reactions are mostly internalised.
If you have a “Fredericka” that tells you that you are a fool, try these to dispel that poisonous voice in your head:
- Talking about your feelings acknowledges them. I am an introvert so like to blog, and a forum for writers like Medium.Com is a wonderful place to write about your feelings;
- Make a list of your achievements and keep them visible;
- Focus on your strengths. Yes, being aware of your weaknesses is important too, like being aware that Impostor Syndrome might grab you from time to time. When it does, revert to your list of strengths.
- Practice an “Attitude of Gratitude”. All too often, we revert to everything wrong in the world, but if you are focused on those things that you are grateful for, your mind starts to change;
- Every morning, before you start your day run through what yesterday was good for. I get it, sometimes you have to dig deep, but even the simplest thing like “I drank an extra glass of water” leans your head into the positive. Then leave yesterday just there – in the past;
- Be very particular about what you read on social media. I make sure that I have people and their dogs in my feed! Dogs, I find are awesome to elevate a low spirit!
- Value your perspective. Every single one of us has value to give to this world. Never doubt it. When you do, go back to your list of achievements and strengths;
- Don’t play the comparison game. If you are an entrepreneur like myself, it is easy to see how others are being successful and taking action and when seeing it, you denigrate your own progress. Be aware that everyone’s journey is different, and always refer back to your own list of achievements to keep you on track;
- Failing is inevitable. When a mentor told me this, it hit me full on in my stomach, and I was filled with such fear that it stopped me in the tracks! The reality is that even with a mentor and learning skills, failure will at some time find you. It’s learning how to take those lessons and move forward and be better the next time. Reflecting on those failures and accepting those lessons, goes onto your achievements list. There is no failure, only feedback.
- Remind yourself that your successes are your work. Yes, you might have had guidance and a helping hand, but you had to do it. You had to sit and study the material if you were heading into an exam. You had to learn a process in your new job; it was you who stood in front of those people, presenting your programme or your case; it was you and you alone, who moved forward.
Accept your power. Be grateful for it too.
Accept your greatness and reward yourself by being your best advocate.
Above all else, speak to yourself with kind words; with constructive words and words that will build you up.
For all introverts who would like to get into the habit of writing, even it is to vent, have a look at my blog on Medium.Com. I have no affiliation here except to write, so don’t be afraid to check it out, and get writing!