Speaker: Dr Bex Hemmingson
Host: GWN and the Ministry of Justice Women’s Network
Venue: Ministry of Justice, Wellington and remotely by AVL
Date: 12 February 2019
Attendance: approx. 130 including virtual guests
Impostor Syndrome is defined as 'a psychological pattern in which people doubt their accomplishments and have a persistent fear of the "talent police" showing up and being exposed as a fraud'.
Judging by the number of hands raised when Bex asked who experienced this, the feeling is widely experienced. Bex gave us some insights into her own journey, despite her personal and professional successes and still having the imposter syndrome. She realised she was not alone in how she felt and relieved in finding that impostor syndrome was a 'thing'. "Syndrome" is an unfortunate word and makes it sound like an illness. It is not.
Bex took us through:
- Self-diagnosis – does it apply in my life?
- Where does it come from? What are the ‘unhelpful’ beliefs, thinking patterns and feelings that we have?
- How does it show up in behaviour?
And, once this had been covered, we looked at the 5 different types of imposter and the kinds of questions that these people ask themselves.
Bex talked about the ways to ‘remix’ the imposter-y feelings to help lessen them and their effect on how we think and act. The impostor cycle was explained and many people in the room nodded as they recognised their own journey around (and around) this cycle.
- Feelings are not facts – they can be challenged.
- Impostor syndrome is experienced by women and men.
- Lots of very successful people experience it and many have shared this.
- Impostor feelings may lessen by practicing ‘remixing our thinking’, but they may never fully go away. Learning the strategies to make the feelings ‘quieter’ is helpful. Reframe your competence beliefs – challenge old beliefs to change the thinking.
- Acknowledge it is there and get on with what you are doing anyway. Taking action when things scare you leads to greater confidence.
- You are not alone in feeling this way and there are ways to deal with it.
This was a great session with Bex sharing her experience and giving us tools to push the impostor feelings out of our thinking. Really sensible, down to earth and entertaining. Where did that hour go?
Bex’s helpful ‘doodle’ handouts helped guide us and have a place for reflecting on our own experiences and actions to take to push the impostor away.
Links provided by Bex:
The Confidence Gap, by Russ Harris
Secret Thoughts of Successful Women, by Valerie Young
Everyone suffers from the Impostor Syndrome, by Andy Molinsky, Harvard Business Review
The fraud who isn't, by Carlin Flora, Psychology Today
The dangers of feeling like a fake, by Manfred F. R. Kets de Vries, Harvard Business Review (relevant to some of the questions asked in the session)