Article by Irene Brankin
“Success is being comfortable with yourself regardless of what’s going on round you” (I.Brankin)
I wonder if you are one of the ‘almost nearly confident and successful woman’? By that, I am meaning that however successful and confident you appear to others, inside you there is a feeling of being a fraud or an imposter as you are always waiting to be found out.
These feelings come under the term ‘Imposter Syndrome’ that evolved about 40 years ago by two American Clinical Psychologists, and can be briefly defined as a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist even in the face of information that the opposite is true or simply put – self-doubt.
Self doubt undermines self confidence
This self-doubt undermines the self-confidence of both men and women, although more women have it perhaps because we own up to it easier. It can happen at any time to any of us – even those people you might think of as being famous. One or two examples would be Seth Godin who said that he still feels like a fraud even although he is very successful, and the multi-talented and much missed, Maya Angelou who said that ‘They’re going to find me out‘ – even although both of them have written about a dozen books each!! And, of course there are many more – including even Oprah Winfrey. It is so hard to believe that really most, if not all of us, suffer or have suffered from it one way or another in our personal or professional life.
Do you know these feelings?
Perhaps you went around wearing the mask or cloak of appearing to have outer confidence while inside you were actually experiencing one or all of these –
You put everything down to luck
Noooo way did you deserve the praise or accolades
You queried others’ judgement of you as being correct
You feel you didn’t deserve success as you didn’t earn it
You weren’t worthy
You doubt your own abilities
You or It wasn’t perfect (the whatever it was)
You were being too self-critical
You fail to celebrate your successes
You compare yourself unfavourably to high fliers (the top 5%)
You fail to give yourself credit
What would your one be???
Feel the fear and do it anyway
I keep banging on about this as I want this area of vulnerability to be more out in the open so others can see that you may have this fear, and it doesn’t need to rule your life. It’s about you trusting yourself and not allowing your feelings of shame and embarrassment at the thought of failure to stop you from taking risks (‘feel the fear and do it anyway’) while being aware you might fall flat on your face. As the saying goes, ‘You pick yourself up, dust yourself down and start all over again’!!
In my opinion, life is about knowing and acknowledging your own worth and value, both internally and externally, and to come from that place of inner confidence. Unfortunately, you don’t always know your own value or bring that to the table! You see, it’s about truly owning your successes, accomplishments or abilities, and when things go awry being able to ask for help. It is not easy as none of us is perfect, however much we would like to be. We are both-and – not the either-or we thought we had to be.
And, when you allow yourself to be seen in your vulnerability as well as your glory, you allow others permission to do the same. You don’t have to be afraid of being found wanting – you are allowing yourself to be visible. This is what brings about the change internally and then everything else can fall into place.
If you take away the mask or the shell of confidence, then as you get to know yourself, you will return to coming from inner confidence or being authentic or as I simply say – being comfortable with yourself. It is simply too exhausting to stifle your natural behaviour in favour of conforming to some stereotype you think you ought to be
Why do I go on about the Imposter Syndrome? Because I want women (and men) to know that it’s fine to shine, fail and get up again – even laugh at yourself without having to wear a mask of pretence and behind it fear. I want you to be successful in your own way so my legacy is ‘be yourself’ or ‘to thy own self be true’ and so be comfortable with your uncomfortability as well as your successes.
I am running a Day Workshop in London, 25th November, 2017, entitled ‘The Almost Nearly Confident and Successful Woman’ – From Self-Doubt to Inner Confidence – and I’d love to see you there. More details on my website http://www.thevisiblewoman.com/autumn-workshop-the-almost-nearly-confident-and-successful-woman/