Have you ever been on the start line of a race or in the middle of a group ride and thought “I shouldn’t be here, I’m not good enough, these people are better than me”? Do you ever feel as though you don’t deserve to be successful or perform well?
If this sounds familiar, it’s likely you are experiencing impostor syndrome.
Impostor syndrome is an internal belief that you are inadequate, incompetent or under qualified. You fear you’ll be ‘found out’ and exposed as a fraud. Imposter syndrome is most commonly found in the workplace- in my job at everywoman we talk about this in the context of women in business, however, it can crop up in any area of life, particularly in sport and fitness.
You’re not alone in feeling this way, even professional athletes suffer from impostor syndrome. Retired professional triathlete Charlotte Paul said “I didn’t have the strongest swim/bike combo… I never truly felt like a true professional athlete. So, perhaps that was why I wanted to earn the respect of my peers”.
Impostor syndrome can hold you back from growing and experiencing your full potential, but there are ways to combat it…
Take control of your self talk
People with impostor syndrome have negative thought patterns which they keep coming back to again and again. The first thing is to become aware of your self-talk and acknowledge it, then challenge those thoughts and reframe them in a more neutral way.
For example, if you are constantly telling yourself “I’m too slow, everyone is much faster than me”, replace this with the thought “I may not be fast enough yet, but everyone starts somewhere, I’m improving all the time.”
Positive mantras can also direct your mind away from unhelpful thoughts- here are some ideas.
Own your successes
You might feel that your achievements are just a fluke, but you need to start acknowledging that it was your own hard work, talent and skills which made them happen.
Write a list of your successes and look it often to remind yourself of your accomplishments. Accept compliments and listen to praise. You are where you are because you worked hard to get there!
What would you do if you weren’t afraid? Impostor syndrome can keep us stuck in our comfort zone, never daring to try something new for fear of failure. Challenge yourself to do something that scares you- sign up for a race, join a faster group or take a coaching qualification.
You’ll boost your self-confidence by surprising yourself with your own capabilities and outgrow feelings of being a fraud.
Fake it until you make it
Practice acting confident even if you don’t feel it yet. When feelings of self-doubt creep in be aware of your body language, stand tall and slow your breathing.
Act like you own and deserve your achievements and with time that will turn into real confidence.
Do you ever suffer with impostor syndrome? How do you manage to overcome it?