How To Beat Impostor Syndrome D
Even the formidable Meryl Streep admits she suffers from negativity, self-doubt and feeling like a fraud. Here’s how to access confidence and boost your self-esteem for good
oes your subconscious constantly whisper you’re not good enough at work and you will get found out – and soon? That insidious voice is a confidence drain, yet it seems far too many of us aren’t able to dial down its volume or even switch it off completely.
Even Meryl Streep says she sometimes feels like a fraud. “I have varying degrees of confidence and self-loathing,” the 20-time Oscar nominee has said. “You can have a perfectly horrible day where you doubt your talent – or that you’re boring and they’re going to find out that you don’t know what you’re doing.”
So why is the inner mean girl voice getting the better of so many of us? “We’re simply too hard on ourselves,” says Dr Vesna Grubacevic, a clinical hypnotherapist and trainer in neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), “Some women strive for an unrealistic or unattainable perfection. It’s known as Imposter Syndrome – the inability to recognise accomplishments, and a fear of being exposed as a fraud.”
Here’s how to switch off the negative inner monologue, face the “I’m not good enough” fears and instead plug into “I’ve got this” confidence.
REWIRE YOUR THINKING
Dr Grubacevic says the first step is a mental reboot. “It can be hard to ‘unlearn’ thought patterns we’ve held onto for years, even if they sap confidence,” she says. “Force yourself to think the positive opposite of a negative thought. So think “I can” rather than “I can’t” as a retraining exercise.”
A real-life example who actively addressed her confidence issues is Annette, 47. “I lost my mojo during my childhood. I’m from a single-
parent family and I was bigger than other kids, so I got bullied relentlessly.”
Despite her lack of self-esteem, Annette forged a successful career in corporate communications. But when she was headhunted for her dream job in 2013 – only to be made redundant 12 months later – Annette hit rock bottom. “It was proof, after all, that I was no good,” she says.
She was tempted to wallow in selfpity, but the redundancy forced Annette to address her confidence issues by attending self-esteem workshops. “One of the speakers said, “Everyone in this room is an expert on something, it doesn’t matter what it is.”
Two years on, Annette has launched her own PR business, Publicity Genie, and recently won an international industry award. “Working on myself gave me the confidence to launch my company,” she says. “I still have bad days, but now I don’t dwell. It’s very empowering to value yourself.”
LEARN TO LOVE YOUR BODY
Body confidence issues can also sap selfworth. While a few wrinkles or extra kilos can lead to personal dissatisfaction, Debra, 39, had to live with a facial issue that severely affected her confidence.
“In 2012, I had an operation to remove a 4.5-cm brain tumour. The op and subsequent stroke I had damaged my facial nerves,” explains Debra. “The left side of my face was affected, which meant I couldn’t blink, so in order to preserve my eye, my doctor recommended it be sewn shut for a year. It was so visible, I really hated it.”
After the procedure, Debra didn’t want to look in the mirror. Despite the low confidence, she returned to work at the Subway franchise she’d purchased with her husband when she was well. “Customers flinched, stared or openly asked what was wrong with my eye. That drained my confidence.”
It was a comment by her teenage stepdaughter, Kiara, that began rebuilding Debra’s self-esteem. “She said to me one day, ‘ You know what? Those that matter don’t mind, and those that mind don’t matter’, and that became my mantra. I also chose to not let this break me. So I’d get up every day, go to work and smile. Did I always feel great? No, but I also learned to ‘fake it until you make it’ – another mantra I swore by. If I projected confidence, it actually made me feel better.”
MOVE AHEAD IN SMALL STEPS
Whether your self-confidence issues stem from the personal, professional or physical, practical steps can help improve the situation. Pam Brossman, an executive coach, mentor and the author of Confident Chicks, says: “I tell my clients to figure out what is holding them back and take ownership of wanting to change,” she says.
Pam advises breaking confidence goals down into smaller steps. “If you fear public speaking, practise in front of the mirror, then in front of friends. Build up to your target and reward yourself for each step you achieve.”
Seeking out mentors or support groups can also help, Pam says, whether that is an exercise class to help you realise your physical goals or a networking group for career support. “Knowledge and being proactive about helping yourself are great confidence builders,” she explains.
Improving your self-talk and giving yourself feedback can help too, according to Dr Grubacevic. She also suggests visualising success as a confidence motivator and practising calming techniques, such as meditation.
“We’ll feel more confident when we learn to be our own best friend,” says Dr Grubacevic. “Celebrate your successes and move on when things don’t go so well.”
Catch Meryl Streep’s amazing performance as Katharine Graham, the first female publisher of The Washington Post, in Steven Spielberg’s