- *Carry a sense of fraudulence.
- *Believe you’re one step away from being exposed as the big, fungating example of hype-without-substance you know yourself to be.
- *Hear feedback in a selective manner. That is to say, when people say your work has flaws, their word become emblazoned in your mind as truthful; but let them find something to praise, and oh my goodness, find those people some antipsychotics stat! They need to be reintroduced to reality.
So, what should one do when faced with the beast? Most people will metaphorically lock him behind the cellar door, then go through the “Ping” sisters in sequence, trying to find the means to banish him.
This is the stage of victimhood, when you’ve bought into the IS’s story so thoroughly, you scour your surroundings for proof that he’s right. (No offence to the men in the audience, but I’m imagining my IS as a male this time around.) In my case, it’s marked by passivity, slouched posture, and a hand that might as well be velcroed to my forehead.
Unfortunately, I’ve received a gold star in the moping category. I even stick the landing. Eventually, though, something gives and I move into the next stage.
This stage is marked by a scramble for resources, which might include:
- a course designed specifically to silence the Inner Critic, registration for which ends Oct. 18. ←Please note the date was extended!
- a community and/or group of friends who can hold your hope for you, when you’re not up to the task.
- a website all about the Imposter Syndrome. (Note: I haven’t bought the course advertised, but found the posts themselves to be quite helpful.)
I don’t wish to denigrate Coping, which I’ve actually come to think of as the Western way of approaching problems in a direct, militarist manner. However, I find this Ping sister most helpful. Without her, Coping can shove a ton of resources under my nose, but they don’t work.
“What would a hopeful person do in this situation?”One of Hoping’s gifts is the following question:
I’ve already worked this through in a thousand different ways, albeit in a different world. As a doctor, I dealt with angry patients all the time — otherwise reasonable people rendered hostile by the force of their physical, emotional or spiritual pain. If you are a parent, have worked in customer service or sales, or have ever worked in a dysfunctional work setting, chances are you have competence here, too.
Barring a life-threatening situation, I’ve found the best defence to be one of openness and hopeful expectation. So…
Unlock the door which holds your Imposter Syndrome imprisoned. The barrier does no good. He’s been whispering foul things to you anyway.
Invite him to take a shower and sit down to a hot meal. When he’s sitting at the table and sneers at what you’ve prepared; when you’re bathed in sulfurous breath and watch saliva drip to the table where it forms sizzling, vomitous puddles; when he starts hurtling accusations at you in a deep and trollish voice, then…
Offer to cut up his potatoes, because his paws make him clumsy with a knife.
Speak of a makeover for his bedroom, because even monsters like to stretch out when they sleep.
Feel the hope, and then ask him “why?” What fear or anxiety lies behind his aggressive behavior? What truth does he want you to see?
In my case, beyond the usual fears of failure and success, I discovered something quite surprising. Those whispers from my subconscious, from my Imposter Syndrome, were to tell me I was placing too much emphasis on the outer world’s opinions as I write. Know what? That’s a reasonable concern. When I write from that outwardly oriented place, if I succeed, I risk a fragile state of megalomania. If I fail, devastation. In my case, the Imposter Syndrome acts like a misguided parent who believes his harshness is preparing me for the world. I can work with that. I know how to work with that. Since this realization, in fact, I’ve been restored to proactivity and productivity in writing decisions.
How about you? If you suffer from the Imposter Syndrome, what resources can you recommend? Where have you found your hope? And if you don’t suffer from the Imposter Syndrome, what core beliefs protect you?