Step 2: How to overcome imposter syndrome – Understand why you feel like a fraud

A blog series that gives you actionable steps to heal imposter syndrome and create the life you want.

If you’re not sure if imposter syndrome is a problem for you, check out the Top 6 signs you suffer from imposter syndrome. If you missed Step 1, here it is. 

Step 2: understand why you feel like a fraud

This is a vital piece of the puzzle.

Feeling like a fraud, or unqualified, or just-not-quite-ready-yet keeps you running in place.

It keeps you from stepping forward into the growth zone and from reaping the rewards of stretching yourself.

So, let’s take a minute to understand what’s going on when you feel like a fraud.

You’re feeling an emotion

It may be stating the obvious but you need to be 100% clear that the feeling of the imposter complex is exactly that – a feeling.

Just like feeling sad or joyful, but, in this case, you feel like a fraud.

What are feelings anyways?

Feelings are vibrations in your body.

The feeling of the imposter complex is a vibration in your body. It might be a sensation like a heavy pressure, a tightness in your chest or a general feeling of unease throughout your body.

The exact way it feels may be unique to you but, for sure, it’s uncomfortable. And, if you could, you’d wish it away for good.

Am I right?

The next step is to understand where feelings come from.

So often, we say that our feelings were caused by things outside of ourselves. For example, “he made me feel bad” or “the traffic made me grumpy” or “the way the project turned out makes me feel ashamed.”

Most of us are brought up this way.

We place responsibility for our feelings on everything else but ourselves.

External things and events don’t have the power to create emotions in you. Only you do.

That’s because your feelings come from your thoughts. 

The opinions, judgments and stories that YOU have about something are what create your feelings. 

When you struggle with imposter syndrome, you have ALL kinds of self-sabotaging thoughts going through your mind. It’s these thoughts that then create feelings of:

  • Shame
  • Embarrassment
  • Pressure
  • Stress
  • Low self-worth
  • Self-criticism
  • Self-hatred

These feelings are not created by what your coworkers said, how your evaluation went, how someone else acted towards you, etc.

They’re created by how you respond to what goes on in your life.

An example of how this works in real life

For example, lets say that you’ve been preparing for a meeting with an important client. You’ve done a ton of research and practiced what you plan to say. Then the meeting happens and it doesn’t go as planned. The client seems uncooperative. How would you feel?

Scenario #1: you decide to make it mean that you did a bad job. That you weren’t prepared enough and that you’re out of your league. This thought process then provokes emotions of shame, inadequacy & self-criticism, i.e. the imposter complex.

Scenario #2: you decide to make it mean that the client isn’t the right fit for you. She’s not ready to do the work you’re offering and doesn’t have a great chance of succeeding, so you decide that it’s best not to continue to work together. This thought process makes you feel in control and empowered.

Same meeting, totally different response.

Pretty cool, right?

Take action

Now it’s time for you to get super clear on where your feelings come from in your own life.

Step 2 of overcoming imposter syndrome is about NOTICING how you’re feeling and getting deeply curious about how your own thoughts have created them. 

The intention isn’t to beat yourself up about it, but rather to begin to tap in to the incredible power you actually do have over your emotions. This takes time and practice. As you build more awareness, accessing this power becomes easier.

Your daily practice

  1. Schedule a time each day to check-in with your feelings. This can be a great end-of-the-day practice.
  2. Ask yourself “what emotions am I feeling?”. Write them all down.
  3. Choose one.
  4. Ask yourself “What thoughts or beliefs might have created this feeling?”. Write down your answers.
  5. Notice what comes up from a place of curiosity. Be compassionate.

The more data you gather in this way, the more you’ll be able to understand the default thought patterns that drive your imposter syndrome.

Next week, we’ll dive into creating new thought patterns that will empower you to transform your experience of your life.

Until then,


P.S. Get a jump start on overcoming imposter syndrome by getting a free Empowerment Session. This is a 1-1 coaching call where I help you access the power and vision to create your dreams. The time you take to invest in yourself with this one call will move you forward in creating a life of freedom and success.