Imposter Syndrome: Two of Evoluted Team Attend Event
If you’ve ever felt a strong sense of self doubt - you’re a fraud, a phony, you don’t deserve to be here - whether in your personal or professional life, you are not alone. A lot of people are in the same boat as you. This phenomenon is called Imposter Syndrome, and it affects people from all walks of life. It’s believed that more women are affected compared to men, but this may just be part of how society erroneously expects men to hide their feelings.
We recently attended an event about Imposter Syndrome, held by Northern Value Creators at the Electric Works. Through various activities and workshops, we were able to discover what Imposter Syndrome is, determine how it is triggered, and identify ways we can help reduce or tackle these sentiments.
For the first part of the session, we were split into groups and tasked with mapping our feelings out onto drawings of our hands. The idea is that there are two sides of us (or two hands) - one the imposter and the other the ‘warrior’. Talking amongst strangers about our imposter-ising was very eye-opening. You believe that you are the only person who feels this way, but you soon realise that similar feelings of self-doubt may be lurking under the most confident of exteriors. Michelle Obama, Natalie Portman, and Emma Watson among many others, have spoken about their Imposter Syndrome in interviews.
In the afternoon, I (Laura) took part in a workshop centred around the psychology of Imposter Syndrome. Luckily, it was given to us in a simplified way as I’m no psychology buff!
The brain in this scenario has 3 parts:
- The Imposter Chimp - receives the stimuli first (e.g. you’re about to do a big presentation).
- The Computer - the Chimp asks the computer if the brain has been through this experience before. If it hasn’t, it will go back to the Chimp and a panic response may form. If it has, we go to the Human.
- The Human - this is the calm response. You’ve been through this experience before, so no need to panic.
The Chimp is quite primal and is able to react very quickly to danger by not going through the computer or human.
The Chimp tells you that your confidence is based on meeting the ideal standard, whereas the Human part of your brain makes your confidence based on doing your best under the circumstances.
I found this very interesting as it reassured me that any feelings I have are legitimate, and the fight/flight/freeze responses are just a way for the brain to protect the body. This includes imposter feelings as you may not have been through the experience before, and the brain is just trying to protect itself.
My Best Self
I (Jenny) attended The Meet Your Best Self Workshop. I wasn’t entirely sure what I was letting myself in for, all I knew is we would be guided towards meeting a better version of ourselves.
We began by closing our eyes and listening to Amanda (one of the organisers) guide us through a relaxation process. We relaxed everything from our fingers to our toes. In all honesty, at that point I didn’t feel that relaxed: I was still conscious that I was sitting in a room with 6 other people with my eyes closed and wondering where it was going.
I concentrated on Amanda's voice as she guided us to visualise ourselves in a meadow at the bottom of a hill. I could hear the birds singing and a stream flowing. I could feel a gentle breeze in my hair. I assumed she must have some sort of sound and wind machine and it must be some sort of interactive meditation session.
We then began to see a beautiful sunset which split into hundreds of tiny glowing orbs and in each one was a version of ourselves. Some of which were glowing happy selves, some dull and anxious. Until we saw a version of ourselves – a better version we had always wanted to meet, glowing and coming towards us. At this point I assumed Amanda must be shining a torch into my eyes as the glowing light was so bright!
After some time Amanda asked us to open our eyes. When we did there were no lights, no sounds or wind machine. Everything we had experienced had come from us. We all talked for some time and shared our equally amazing visions.
We met our best selves. We saw what we could become, what we wanted to achieve and how to make our future self a reality. It was an incredible experience – one I will never forget.
- When you find yourself in a new situation, treat it as a learning experience. Ask questions. As a novice you are expected to ask a lot of questions!
- Figure out what is a fact and what is a feeling. You may feel inadequate, but from past experience you know you are competent and can handle the situation.
- Mindfulness and meditation are great tools to help you deal with anxiety and teach skills that you can put into practice for future situations.
Thanks to Northern Value Creators for putting on the event.