You’ve just accomplished a goal, made a big change in your life, doubled your income, or attracted a partner who loves and supports you, instead of feeling great about it, you feel like an imposter. Are you a fraud or is this really a question of self-worth?
Self-doubt rises each time you think about it. You don’t feel as if you deserve this much happiness and success.
To answer why let’s get a clear picture of imposter syndrome.
Imposter syndrome can be defined as a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success. ‘Imposters’ suffer from chronic self-doubt and a sense of intellectual fraudulence that override any feelings of success or external proof of their competence.
When we suffer from imposter syndrome, doesn’t it come down to a mess gumbo of diminished self-worth and neuroticism? At some point, we lost sight of our value — our self-worth — and neuroticism took its place.
Neuroticism is one of the five personality traits. Neuroticism is a tendency toward anxiety, depression, self-doubt, and other negative feelings. All personality traits, including neuroticism, exist on a spectrum.
Still, some people tend to be more neurotic than others. Accordingly, neuroticism is low emotional stability or negative emotionality.
The Source of Self-Doubt and Imposter Syndrome
I can feel when the Imposter syndrome starts to creep its way into some of my best moments as a writer and creator. It happens when someone compliments me. Yes, I cry. I tear up, but in the past, I’d also feel emotions of self-doubt, and I’d hear the voice that says, “Wait, I don’t deserve that. because I haven’t earned it. I haven’t done enough to deserve _____________.”
I’ve had moments when I’ve apologized for my accomplishments. Yes, I’d apologize with my body, tone, and words as if I’d taken from another person to achieve what I have. And that’s certainly not true, but at times I reacted as if it were.
With some introspection and long conversations with my bestie, I finally saw a particular connection between neuroticism and Imposter Syndrome. Whenever I received a compliment, honor, award, pat on the back, or praise, I would feel anxious, disembodied almost.
What triggered this emotion? I learned through careful research that I am inclined to neuroticism and negative emotionality.
Neuroticism and negative emotionality are traits associated with Imposter Syndrome.
This is an observation and not a diagnosis.
I’m not referring to neurosis, a mental disorder related to chronic distress which requires intense psychotherapy.
Negative emotionality may sound scary, but we all have experienced it to a degree. We’ve all experienced depression, self-doubt, worry, and anxiety. Perhaps not on a clinical level, but we have experienced it.
I had the inclination to doubt my worthiness even when I did well, did the work, succeeded, and received praise for my work.
Setting the Bar Too High.
And what brought on this inclination to neuroticism?
I had too many rules. It is great to have high standards, but I’d set the bar too high.
And that high bar is an emotional trap. Setting the bar too high causes negative emotions when we don’t reach it.
Often, it didn’t matter how well I did. It wasn’t good enough if it didn’t follow the rules and reach the bar. So, I hadn’t done enough if I were praised, awarded, or complimented without reaching my bar.
Thus, I would feel like an imposter — a fake.
Increasing my Self-Worth
Since my year of redirection, I’ve discovered ways to prevent Imposter Syndrome. The answer has been increasing my self-worth. I remind myself that I am worthy.
☑️I celebrate wins, no matter how small, daily.
Yep, I find things to celebrate. I celebrate if I eat a big salad with a heaping of fresh veggies instead of Gardein Chick’un Nuggets. I celebrate if I add a plug-in to my blog without it going wonky.
Celebrating builds self-efficacy and reduces self-doubt.
We can win our way out of worry.
☑️I take a moment for visualization.
I take a moment to visualize success before I create. Before I wrote one word of this story, I envisioned people reading on laptops, desktops, tablets, and phones.
I visualize you relating to the article. Happily, I see you reading and gaining value from the ideas and insights. I picture myself responding. Smiling. Nodding my head (I do that a lot) and clapping to your responses (sometimes literally).
As such, when you say, “Thank you,” I’m touched and respond, “Thank you.” Not out of a sense of obligation or unworthiness but from a place of pure gratitude.
☑️I affirm my worthiness.
I affirm my worthiness through gratitude. Furthermore, I am grateful for every gift, talent, skill, and ability. I would acknowledge it even if I didn’t learn it through formal education. I value it.
☑️I create something daily.
I practice creativity daily as if it is a workout for my brain and emotional state. I give myself a sense of accomplishment to become more comfortable with accomplishing.
Creativity is a lifestyle.
☑️I talk and write about my feelings.
Talking about feelings of doubt and unworthiness gets the story out of my head. Once I talk or write it out, I can honor my feelings but realize my doubt is a story I’m telling myself.
☑️I accept constructive and instructive criticism.
I accept constructive and instructive criticism without feeling like a failure. I welcome instructive and constructive criticism because it only makes me better.
The better I feel, the less I doubt.
☑️I’ve lessened my self-deprecating humor.
Yes, I’ve reduced the urge for self-deprecating humor. In the words of Missy Elliot, “hee hee hell, hee hee hell.” Self-deprecating humor isn’t always funny, especially if you kinda mean it.
“We are love at our core. We are magnificent.” — Anita Moorjani, New York Times Best-Selling Author of Dying to be Me
You are worthy. You are Magnificent.
When we realize we are worthy and celebrate our magnificence, we reduce neuroticism and self-doubt and quieten the “Imposter” until we don’t hear the sobs and whimpers of our self-doubt and thoughts of unworthiness as loudly anymore.
And when someone says…
“I love your work.”
“You’re a lot of fun to hang out with.”
We can honor our compliments and praise with a simple “Thank you.”