That Little Voice of Self Doubt (part 3)

In the third and final installment in the 'self doubt' blogging series, I'd like to welcome back PJ Sangalang, BA, MA (Psychology) to talk about the Imposter Syndrome. Thank you SO much PJ for the interesting and insightful post! 

 The Little Voice grows up into the Impostor Syndrome

 As Erin-Brie expertly described the last two posts, even a squeak of self-doubt can mushroom into a louder, more crippling voice, echoing throughout one’s psyche, infecting confidence and skills. “What am I doing here? How did I even get to this esteemed position without someone finding out that I’m not the best at what I do? I feel like such a phony.”

 And with that angle, I’d like to extend this conversation to introducing the Imposter Syndrome, a cognitive bias in which someone feels as though they do not deserve their successes, believing their accomplishments are not due to their skills and ability, and believing that they are, in effect, frauds. Subsequently, this mindset leads one to think that all that they have achieved to get to this point—and anything they will accomplish from this point forward—is undeserved. A quote by decorated actress Kate Winslett summarizes this elegantly: “Sometimes I wake up in the morning before going off to a shoot, and I think, I can’t do this. I’m a fraud.”

It really does feel like an extension, if not altogether a “grown-up” version, of that voice of self-doubt, does it not? It is important to remain confident in one’s internal abilities, believing in the hard work, sacrifice and natural ability that have led you to where you are. As Erin-Brie has noted previously, it is about turning negative, destructive thoughts into positive, constructive ones. Specifically in this case, explaining your successes as being due to you, not something else.

 My job entails training and teaching new hires in the company, and in our busier seasons, I have a month to turn bright-eyed, motivated new hires into bright-eyed, motivated independent employees. As you may guess, the first day with the new group is the most nerve-racking, and that abstract self-doubt transforms into phrases such as “What if I mess up? What if I miss something? What if they don’t understand what I’m talking about? What am I even doing here?” Uh-oh.

 To solve that, I like to catch myself even before that self-doubt has a chance to talk, and use it as motivation. “You’re not going to mess up and you’re not going to miss anything because you’re prepared. They’ll know what you’re talking about because you’ve dealt with dozens of groups and countless individuals and you’ve dealt with it all. And if you miss something or mess up? You know how to fix it. You’re here and you’ve been here this long because you’ve developed your style to suit different individuals and their own learning styles, with success. You’re no imposter.” To that effect, I don’t even give my doubts a chance to speak, explaining how I have done my best to overcome my obstacles, and in effect motivating myself even further to do a good job by reminding myself that I’ve done so before.

 Instead of wallowing in self-doubt, it would be far more constructive to focus on how your abilities got you where you are—and will take you to where you want to go. Think of the things that you have done to get you to your successes. Don’t let that tiny voice of self-doubt grow further. Before it has a chance to speak, tell yourself and the world that “I deserve all this because of me, and of that, I have no doubt!”

 Moving you forward, WLS

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