Using the Complexities of Imposter Syndrome to your Advantage

Updated: Sep 15, 2020

Have you ever wondered “Who am I to speak to this, to give this advice?” Have you questioned if your protocols will work? If you can adequately explain concepts to clients? Have you thought that your knowledge base wasn’t strong enough, that you don’t have enough experience? 

Whether you’re starting out in a field or have been practicing for years, dealing with feelings of doubt and perceived inadequacy can be immobilizing and impede success. We know, we’ve been there. Imposter syndrome is a heavy but universal cloud. 

Imposter Syndrome is defined as feelings of inadequacy, despite concrete evidence of success. Those struggling with this suffer from chronic self-doubt and a profound sense of intellectual fraud that out-competes any real successes or external proof of their knowledge and competence. 

What is important to understand about Imposter Syndrome is that the people most likely to suffer from this are high achieving and highly successful people. Research shows that the tendency for this type of thinking has links to the personality trait of perfectionism. Those who feel they are imposters are unable to internalize accomplishments regardless of actual success in their chosen field. 

Do these sound familiar?

Fear of Failure: The “imposter” feels a massive amount of pressure not to fail in fear that they will be “found out” as a fraud. Due to this, success becomes an issue since it adds to the pressure and responsibility to continue to succeed. 

Fraudulence: Connected to the idea that they need to not fail to avoid being “found out as a fraud” is the feeling that they don’t deserve success or accolades because they have somehow deceived others into thinking they are more capable and competent than they really are. 

I’m just lucky: Furthermore, they tend to attribute success to simple luck rather than attributing any success to actual ability. 

Discounting Success: Since they tend to downplay success and view it as a consequence of luck, they often refuse to acknowledge their own aptitude or hard work and how that contributed to their successes. 

We’ve come to conclude that imposter syndrome is kin to the fear response. Imposter syndrome acts as a protective mechanism, one that we can appreciate and acknowledge, while simultaneously telling it to quietly take a back seat. 

We have also learned that every time you level up in your career and practice, the feelings experienced in imposter syndrome will likely return to some extent. It’s with this that we tell you, in all sincerity.... we hope you continuously feel like a low-key imposter - because that means you are levelling up out of your comfort zone, you are expanding your zone of genius and you are widening your circle of influence. We also want you to be equipped in sitting with the feelings brought on by imposter syndrome, so that you, your knowledge and your gifts continue to reach as many people as possible. The practices to work through imposter syndrome have brought us a deeper connection to our work ourselves and others and we hope they do the same for you!

How to Mitigate Feelings of Imposter Syndrome:

Self Awareness

Recognize Your Feelings: Awareness is extremely important and the first step towards positive cognitive change. Notice what they are as well as how and when they emerge. We find it helpful to keep a journal as a means to assess deeper, see patterns but also as a way for future you to see how far you’ve come! 

Be Kind To Yourself and RECOGNIZE Successes: It is OKAY to make mistakes, it is normal. Stop punishing yourself for them. Also, remember to reward yourself for your successes and progress, keep a log of the positive outcomes to reflect on- and be sure to seek out friendships and colleagues that encourage and celebrate your successes with you! 

Cognitive Reframing 

Reframe Your Internal Dialogue: Instead of buying into the idea that you don’t deserve success or have fooled others into believing that you are educated and capable, remind yourself that it is normal to not know everything and that as you continue to progress in your field you will gain more and more knowledge and experience. Furthermore, recognizing that you don’t know everything means that you are open to continual learning and that is a huge asset.

Feelings vs. Reality: It is normal to not always be 100% confident, to feel in over your head and have self-doubt. Just because you feel useless and in too deep, in one moment does not mean that you are- not even close. 

Making Mistakes and “Failure” is a Way to Learn: There is no such thing as failure. We find it helpful to look at perceived failures as stepping stones to where you are going. Practice constructively using situations that didn’t go the way you thought, or where you made a mistake as a learning opportunity (a gold standard learning opportunity). Reframe “failure” or a mistake as a learning experience and know that moving forward you have more knowledge and experience as a result. 

You Are Not Alone - Find Your Community 

Talk About It: Imposter Syndrome is an extremely common issue that many people deal with. Open up a dialogue with others in your field: mentors, co-workers, friends and fellow peers. It is easier to deal with and work through these thoughts when you talk to others. Humans are meant to connect, support and learn from each other! 

Seek Support in Your Professional Community: You don’t have to do everything alone. Connect to the idea of talking about your feelings, open up to others that you trust or admire in your field, mentors and peers and ask for assistance when you are unsure. Develop a community of people that you can trust and reach out to when you are unsure of how to approach an issue, or ask questions when you are in over your head. 

Everyone is a student and a teacher- by reaching out you help yourself but the ripple effect of connection, teaching and learning is where the beauty lies.

Feeling like an imposter is a universal feeling. It generally comes in waves - waves which everyone here at Fiore Health has experienced. In fact, imposter syndrome was one of the driving forces behind the creation of Fiore Health!  

Part of our mission is to deliver resources to help you feel confident in your practice and with your clients. We aim to provide you with curated and compiled research that you can reference back to when you have questions, are making protocols or want to expand your knowledge on concepts.

We’re in this together! 

PS - We are launching a monthly newsletter. You can sign up here if you want to receive the latest research, nutrition facts and coaching tips right to your inbox! 

Katie Hogg is a soon to be graduate from the Institute of Holistic Nutrition (IHN), Toronto. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Western Ontario with a major in Psychology. Her own personal struggle with chronic, undiagnosed health issues lead her to pursue her education in Holistic Nutrition after experiencing first hand the profound benefits that changes in diet, lifestyle and supplementation had on her health. This experience led her to develop a profound passion for learning, researching and sharing up-to-date information to nutrition and health based questions. Aside from her passion for all things food, health and nutrition, Katie spends her time painting, reading and hiking with her dog. 

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