Imposter Syndrome is a term I started hearing about in the NLP and personal development workshops I teach a couple of years ago. I began to have students who came to class with the goal of fixing their Imposter Syndrome. Strangely, in most cases, this was referenced by successful males, who have learned that masculinity, vulnerability, and being connected to their emotions can go hand in hand.
For example, I had a highly successful senior management professional in my NLP training who was a multi-millionaire and a phenomenal father — the kind of guy that well-known brands would hire to rub elbows with people like Besos, Zuckerberg, and Musk. He ultimately bailed on that world in order to put his whole focus on being the best father and husband that he could be. Everyone in the class would have given him a 5-star review as a person. And yet, he described Imposter Syndrome as his most prominent issue.
In all honesty, with women, I experience it as students that need an enormous amount of validation. Either from me, other students, or all of Instagram.
What is Imposter Syndrome?
Imposter Syndrome causes a feeling of anxiety and lack of feeling a sense of internal success, despite being a successful and high-performing individual objectively. They often fear exposure.
Facts about Imposter Syndrome:
– Deep-diving into finding some factoids about Imposter Syndrome:
– 70% of the world’s population experiences it at some point.
– Many people show minimal signs of it on the outside.
– If unresolved, it can result lead to depression or anxiety.
– It is not a mental health disorder but a set of thoughts that activate in specific contexts or triggers.
What are Common Triggers?
Though every person can be unique in the triggers that set a thought process of Imposter Syndrome off, here are a few common ones:
– Being in a moment of achievement and accomplishment.
– Being out of your comfort zone.
– Comparing yourself to others.
– Fear of failure.
– When praised.
Where Does It Come From?
Some factors that may have contributed:
– Personality traits, for example, perfectionism.
– Family dynamics.
– Absence of good role models.
– Culture or environment.
– Depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues.
How Can You Spot Someone With Imposter Syndrome?
– What are the signs of someone with imposter syndrome?
– Doubt their abilities.
– Feel like a fraud.
– Fear of not meeting expectations.
– Need a lot of validation from others.
– Overworking and a desire to overachieve.
Attribute their success to others.
– Negative self-talk.
– Guilt and shame.
– Procrastination and avoidance of doing tasks or achieving.
Imposter Syndrome and Low Self-Esteem Often Go Hand-in-Hand
Low self-esteem is about having a negative self-perception, it comes with critical self-judgment, and there is a lack of value a person attributes to themselves. You can see it is interlinked with Imposter Syndrome but not identical.
Scientific research has shown that the risk of being an imposter was strongly linked to having low self-esteem. People with imposter syndrome are likely to have low self-esteem. However, low self-esteem is far more common.
How to Fix Imposter Syndrome?
Imposter Syndrome is harmful to mental health, causing self-esteem and personal growth to become difficult.
It is, however, in personal development where the fix can really be found. It is about boosting a person’s self-esteem and, as a result of that, fixing the imposter that lives inside.
Look into the Cause Using NLP
Previously, I mentioned the most common causes of Imposter Syndrome. Read them again.
Ask yourself (using the NLP Meta-Model):
What specifically caused your Imposter Syndrome?
This will give you an invaluable piece of insight as to where your personal development journey should start to build your self-esteem.
Cultivating Self-Compassion Using NLP
It is interesting that many people can be compassionate towards the people around them, but are terrible at giving themselves compassion.
Do the following NLP visualization:
Visualize a person who loves you and is deeply compassionate, and accepting of you, as well as forgiving, and supportive.
Float your awareness out of your body into the shoes of the person who deeply loves you.
Look at yourself, your abilities, and your worth from this point of view.
See what this person sees, hear what this person hears, and feel what this person feels.
What do you learn?
Cultivating Self-Compassion Using Positive Psychology
Write a self-compassion letter to yourself:
Think of something that you dislike about yourself, which you typically self-critique.
Write down in detail how this makes you feel.
Do any thoughts, memories, emotions, or stories come to mind?
Think of the most accepting and forgiving friend you have.
Now write a letter to yourself from the perspective of this friend.
Cultivating Self-Compassion Using NLP & Positive Psychology
A way to look at NLP is the practical application of positive psychology which offers interventions that sink much deeper into our brains. Positive interventions from the world of positive psychology tend to be a little more bland, boring even, and can quickly turn into thinking exercises.
When you look at the two exercises above, what would happen if you did the “self-compassion letter to yourself” exercise but visualized it from the friend’s point of view? Meaning you float your awareness out of your body into the shoes of your friend. You see what they see, hear what they hear, and feel what they feel.
You can run it like an NLP visualization.
Reframing Negative Self-Talk Using NLP & Positive Psychology
Both NLP and positive psychology have the concept of reframing, meaning replacing negative self-talk with positive self-talk. NLP gives a little more nuance to the concept.
Reframing is putting a different frame on a negative statement.
I would recommend you “gamify” these exercises. Make it fun.
Giving an entirely different and positive meaning to what is perceived by a negative. You collect more content to change the frame.
For example, many people complained and described the pandemic lockdown as a horrible prison where they could have reframed it as being an at-home retreat, where you had more freedom than ever to self-care and step into personal development.
NLP Context Reframe
An NLP context reframe means you are changing the context.
Think of those things you do not like about yourself; in what context would this be useful?
For example, a negative thought you have about yourself, in the long term, can become funny or insignificant.
There are many more positive psychology and NLP techniques useful in boosting self-esteem, self-worth, and lack of self-compassion that can fix Imposter Syndrome once and for all.
Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself – Kristin Neff, Ph.D.
The Imposter Cure: Escape the mind-trap of imposter syndrome – Dr. Jessamy Hibberd
If you are a former student and want to write an article about NLP, Imposter Syndrome, or Self-Esteem, let us know.