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Fake or For Real?
Episode 330th May 2023 • Beyond the Smile • Marylayo
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Imposter Syndrome

In today's episode of MaryLayo Talks, I’m with guest, Belinda Rydings, to explore Imposter Syndrome. We discuss what can trigger imposter syndrome and how someone can overcome this feeling.

Questions include:

  • What is imposter syndrome?
  • What can cause imposter syndrome?
  • What can trigger imposter syndrome?
  • How can imposter syndrome impact someone's life and wellbeing?
  • How can a coach help?
  • How can a friend or family member support someone that's struggling?
  • What tips and advice would you give to someone who is experiencing imposter syndrome now?
  • Bible scripture to build spiritual wellbeing.

Take a moment to delve into what may be 'beyond the smile' - listen in to the conversation.

Guest details:

Belinda Rydings is a coaching psychologist, with around 30 years of commercial experience in global organisations and small to medium enterprises. One of Belinda's specialist coaching areas is imposter phenomenon feelings.

Guest's contact: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and website.

MaryLayo's spiritual wellbeing tip: Meditate on the bible scripture 2 Timothy 1:7.

Connect with MaryLayo:

LinkedIn

Instagram

For help in dealing with mental health related matters, please seek specialist advice and support if needed.

Transcripts

Marylayo:

Host.

Marylayo:

Welcome to Marylayo Talks, a podcast that discusses mental health and

Marylayo:

spiritual wellbeing, before we jump in, there may be episodes that are particularly

Marylayo:

sensitive for some listeners.

Marylayo:

And if that applies, then I hope you'll be able to join me whenever.

Marylayo:

You feel ready and able.

Marylayo:

Today's.

Marylayo:

Episode is with guest Belinda Ridings.

Marylayo:

Belinda is a coaching psychologist and also did some research into Impostor syndrome,

Marylayo:

which is our topic for today.

Marylayo:

So I started off by asking Belinda, what is

Marylayo:

Impostor syndrome? Let's go and chat to her.

Belinda:

So Impostor syndrome is this felt sense that you're not what you're making

Belinda:

yourself out to be.

Belinda:

And it often shows up at work and makes people

Belinda:

feel like they're about to be caught out, about to be found out as a fake.

Marylayo:

Right. So I guess there's going to be a lot of anxiety for that person, a lot of

Marylayo:

maybe trying to overcompensate in terms of striving, in terms of their performance, just

Marylayo:

to try and make up ground because they feel that they're not up to the job and they're

Marylayo:

going to be caught out.

Belinda:

That's often how it does show up.

Belinda:

That's exactly it.

Belinda:

That idea of having to show that you're really good and not allow any cracks or any

Belinda:

vulnerabilities to show to the point that people become quite anxious, as you said.

Marylayo:

And you've done some research on Impostor syndrome.

Marylayo:

What were the kind of things that came out?

Belinda:

Well, the three defining factors of Impostor syndrome, which is not from me, this

Belinda:

is the originators of that concept, were that you feel that you've fooled other people into

Belinda:

thinking that you're better than you really are.

Belinda:

You explain your success as due to external factors such as luck or a mistake.

Belinda:

And the biggest of the three, which is the fear of being exposed and found out.

Marylayo:

Yeah.

Belinda:

So that was the premise on which I went into my research and I spoke to a number

Belinda:

of coaches and used my own coaching experience and found out that impostor syndrome is really

Belinda:

common, it's a very familiar human experience and that, unlike the original researchers,

Belinda:

there's no difference in frequency between genders of the incidence of impostor syndrome.

Belinda:

So it can be an experience for anyone.

Marylayo:

Right, okay.

Marylayo:

Because I guess there's a lot of preconception

Marylayo:

that it's only certain types of genders that would struggle with Impostor syndrome.

Belinda:

Yeah, that was it.

Belinda:

That was the original research.

Belinda:

It was research carried out by feminist researchers in the US.

Belinda:

In the they were only really looking at it as a thing that shows up in female gender,

Belinda:

whereas women tend to talk about it quite openly in that respect.

Belinda:

So I think that's where that idea came from.

Marylayo:

Right, okay.

Marylayo:

And as a coach, how many of your clients would

Marylayo:

you say struggle with Impostor syndrome?

Belinda:

I think it's a lot.

Belinda:

I think maybe 50% might come to me knowing

Belinda:

that I've got some experience with Impostor syndrome, whereas probably nearest 75% might

Belinda:

express some of those fears and concerns that people who relate to Impostor Syndrome might

Belinda:

also feel.

Marylayo:

So it's quite common, basically.

Belinda:

It's really common.

Marylayo:

And do you know what can trigger Impostor Syndrome?

Belinda:

Yeah, it is a very specific syndrome.

Belinda:

So it could be dormant for years and then be

Belinda:

triggered by something like a promotion beyond the person's sense of how well they think they

Belinda:

should be doing for their age or experience.

Belinda:

So it could be a promotion, it could be

Belinda:

commonplace in careers where people have their performance measured and that's quite a common

Belinda:

thing anyway these days.

Belinda:

But particularly in medicine, some sales roles

Belinda:

where people are targeted and education in particular.

Belinda:

So those are the kinds of things that can send people into the Impostor Syndrome experience

Belinda:

really rapidly.

Marylayo:

What about root causes?

Belinda:

In terms of the causes, there's not much known about it, but I think.

Speaker D:

When I explore with people in coaching as a psychologist and people do share

Speaker D:

about their background, it could be from.

Belinda:

One of two extremes.

Belinda:

So at one end of the continuum.

Speaker D:

It might be the kind of family where the child is treated as if they're a

Speaker D:

genius, where they're told they're special, exceptional, gifted, and that child might feel

Speaker D:

under pressure to perform in order to be appreciated and loved and rewarded in that

Speaker D:

family.

Speaker D:

The exact opposite could also be one of the

Speaker D:

causes.

Belinda:

So a family where a child is.

Speaker D:

Either ignored and neglected and not receiving much attention or where in fact

Speaker D:

they're actively criticized that child might also feel like their achievements aren't their

Speaker D:

own, right?

Marylayo:

Yeah.

Belinda:

So very hard to pinpoint but not.

Speaker D:

Untypical of other psychological defenses.

Marylayo:

You mentioned about how for those who feel that they have impostor syndrome

Marylayo:

because of those three criteria, that obviously kind of shows or to me, it says how

Marylayo:

based on how they think and also how they feel that can have a bit of a cloud over their

Marylayo:

heads in terms of their well being, just to have an impact in terms of them enjoying maybe

Marylayo:

their work, certain different activities.

Marylayo:

So how would someone like yourself as a coach,

Marylayo:

how would you try and help that individual to change how they think and then change how they

Marylayo:

feel so that they don't have those kind of thinkings feelings that struggle?

Belinda:

Yeah, I really like what you said there about it being like a cloud hanging over

Belinda:

someone and I think it can really take up a lot of thinking space and emotional space for

Belinda:

someone who's experiencing that kind of anxiety.

Belinda:

So working with an individual, we would be helping them to do some reality checking.

Belinda:

So being very realistic about what their record of achievement really is, what their

Belinda:

experience really is, whether they can actually do the job.

Belinda:

And mostly people recognize that they can and that some things set them off feeling like

Belinda:

they can't.

Belinda:

So it's a matter of regulating their nervous

Belinda:

system being a bit calmer, using mindfulness techniques, breathing techniques and reality

Belinda:

checking.

Belinda:

So once we've got someone into a better state

Belinda:

of mind, less anxious, more able to think clearly, then there's other things that you

Belinda:

can work on about what the origins of the feelings are, how they're showing up in that

Belinda:

particular context.

Marylayo:

I mean, that's really interesting because while you were talking, I was just

Marylayo:

thinking about how just being in that place can really make the individual maybe stagnant

Marylayo:

in terms of trying to go for career progression, advance in different areas of

Marylayo:

their lives because of how they feel.

Marylayo:

And that can hold them back in terms of just

Marylayo:

promotions, in terms of those kind of things.

Marylayo:

So it's quite debilitating when someone, if

Marylayo:

they have impostor syndrome, it can be quite debilitating and really can affect them in the

Marylayo:

workplace.

Marylayo:

It can affect their well being as well.

Belinda:

Yeah, that's absolutely true.

Belinda:

I think the fear can be quite paralyzing for

Belinda:

people.

Belinda:

They can feel like they really are about to be

Belinda:

discovered as a fake.

Belinda:

So often, rather than seeking help or being

Belinda:

more realistic about the truth, people go into quite a frightened state, frozen state, and

Belinda:

then it's going to prevent them from going for promotions, make them a bit secretive at work,

Belinda:

reluctant to delegate, more likely to use external consultants if that person's a leader

Belinda:

or a manager.

Belinda:

And it'll be pretty obvious to the wider team

Belinda:

that there's some kind of defensive behavior going on.

Marylayo:

And if someone was going to maybe take some self help steps, what are the kind

Marylayo:

of things that they could do?

Belinda:

I think having a conversation with a trusted person, either at work or in their

Belinda:

personal life, sharing some of their concerns, getting some help around, doing the reality

Belinda:

checking, becoming a bit more clear about what their abilities are and what their abilities

Belinda:

aren't as well.

Belinda:

So that if there is some factor in that

Belinda:

they're not able to do the job as well as they'd like, they can get some training and

Belinda:

support around that.

Belinda:

Or if it's not the right job for them, just

Belinda:

accept that they'd be better off somewhere else, happier one life.

Belinda:

Right?

Marylayo:

Yeah, true.

Marylayo:

Very true.

Marylayo:

Make the most of it.

Belinda:

Yeah, exactly.

Belinda:

So don't stay if it's not the right

Belinda:

environment because you can't thrive and you can't grow.

Belinda:

But yeah, you need to know that that's because it's not the right place for you, rather than

Belinda:

you've gone into a frightened frozen state.

Marylayo:

Sure. And I guess I could probably guess what you're going to say to this one

Marylayo:

because everyone is different.

Marylayo:

But roughly, if let's just say someone was to

Marylayo:

get external help, they were to come to a coach like yourself, how long can it take for

Marylayo:

someone to change and become a non impostor syndrome person, if that's a word?

Belinda:

Yeah, exactly.

Belinda:

I think it can be pretty quick.

Belinda:

It depends on the individual and how entrenched they are and how close to being

Belinda:

found out they feel like they are in their work.

Belinda:

So if they really feel like they've had a warning at work, or someone suggested that

Belinda:

they oversold themselves at the interview or something like that, then people can be really

Belinda:

anxious and frightened and that will make it a bit slower.

Belinda:

But I think actually rapid changes can be made to some of the kind of reality checking

Belinda:

beliefs and then maybe it takes a little bit longer to look at old stuff.

Belinda:

So if it's rooted in childhood and somebody wants to look at how that's made them feel, an

Belinda:

impostor, that can take a little bit longer.

Marylayo:

And is there anything that, let's just say someone in their support system could

Marylayo:

do to help or support so like a friend or family member?

Marylayo:

Because I'm guessing really that if someone is struggling and you could tell them like, no,

Marylayo:

but you're great, you've got this degree or this PhD or look what you achieved here and

Marylayo:

there, but they're not really actually taking it in.

Marylayo:

It can probably be even quite frustrating for someone in that individual circles and they're

Marylayo:

probably feeling a bit helpless in terms of how they can support that individual.

Marylayo:

Is there anything that you would say that those in us in the support system of someone

Marylayo:

with impostor syndrome could do to help?

Belinda:

Yeah, I think that's a great question and it's difficult when you're friends and

Belinda:

family because people tend not to believe you that your intentions are anything other than

Belinda:

to be kind.

Belinda:

And so they can discount some of that kind of

Belinda:

wise counsel that you can give your friend, because you're a friend after all.

Marylayo:

Your biased perhaps.

Belinda:

Right? And I think if someone's really hooked on the

Belinda:

idea that they're on the verge of being caught out at work, it's really hard to reassure them

Belinda:

as a friend.

Belinda:

So referring them to a professional might be

Belinda:

the best route.

Belinda:

But I think there's quite a lot written about

Belinda:

impostor syndrome now, so there are articles available.

Belinda:

If you look on the internet, on a search engine, you'll find some really good stuff

Belinda:

written about impostor syndrome, some not so great, but I think if you look at an article,

Belinda:

pick out two or three tips that really work for you, you don't have to do everything.

Belinda:

But yeah, I think there's a lot of really good advice and I think the reality checking and

Belinda:

being really honest with yourself is something you can do with a friend.

Belinda:

You can say, I've never been that good at math and that's part of this new role.

Belinda:

And your friend can say, yeah, so maybe you need a bit more support around that, maybe you

Belinda:

can talk to someone in the accounts department to get some mentoring.

Belinda:

There's definitely things that friends can help with.

Marylayo:

And lastly, if someone's listening who can identify with having Impostor

Marylayo:

syndrome, are there any key things that you would give them as a takeaway?

Belinda:

Yeah, for sure.

Belinda:

Look into your heart and ask yourself, what's

Belinda:

the purpose of telling yourself that you're not as good as other people think you are?

Belinda:

Are you doing that to try and keep yourself motivated?

Belinda:

So it's like a motivation, a driver, and that's the intention behind telling yourself

Belinda:

that? Or is it because you're trying to manage

Belinda:

people's expectations of you? If it's the latter, it sounds like there's

Belinda:

something to really work on there.

Belinda:

Perhaps it's fear of success as much as fear

Belinda:

of failure.

Belinda:

And there's a reason behind that.

Belinda:

You're holding yourself back.

Belinda:

So I'd say get some help, get over it.

Belinda:

Live your best life.

Belinda:

Don't let it hold you back.

Marylayo:

Brilliant.

Marylayo:

I love that.

Marylayo:

Live your best life.

Marylayo:

Don't let it hold you back.

Marylayo:

All right, on that note, I would like to thank you, Belinda.

Marylayo:

I think you've given us a lot of food for thought and thanks for sharing your tips and

Marylayo:

giving that advice.

Marylayo:

And hopefully it will help someone somewhere

Marylayo:

out there.

Belinda:

I hope so.

Belinda:

Thank you.

Belinda:

Marylayo. Great to talk to you today.

Marylayo:

Here's a spiritual wellness tip that you can meditate on.

Marylayo:

It's two Timothy, chapter one, verse seven, and it reads, for God has not.

Marylayo:

Given us a spirit of fear and.

Marylayo:

Timidity, but of power, love and self discipline.

Marylayo:

Thank you for listening.

Marylayo:

Do follow and join me again.

Marylayo:

Next time on Marylayo Talks Beyond the Smile.

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