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What Is Imposter Syndrome And How Can You Overcome It?

10/08/2017 12:08 BST | Updated 10/08/2017 12:08 BST

In life, we don't all go around feeling instantly confident or instantly positive - it's just not reality! The reality is, we do have negative thoughts but is that really a bad thing? Negative thoughts are a way of reminding us about boundaries and consequences and we can learn from this. Not so good when they take over your mind and all you do is think negatively about yourself to the point you develop Imposter Syndrome!

So what is Imposter Syndrome?

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(Photo credit: Unsplash)

Have you ever felt like you don't belong in a place where you want to belong? Or even worse, where you've worked really hard to belong.

Have you felt like less of a person because of that niggling voice in your head telling you you're not good enough? Popular enough? Experienced enough? or Intelligent enough?

Ever questioned why you are in a room of people in the same job/profession/industry, yet you feel like the fraud despite the best-laid efforts and commitments you have made?

Prevented yourself from pursuing goals because you felt they were too big?

Have you verbally beaten yourself up because of the high expectations you set yourself and failed to reach?

Sound all too familiar? That's Imposter Syndrome and we all experience it and it's totally normal.

I have felt and experienced all those things and more! All because of that constant and unconfident noise going on in my head. It's also really exhausting, isn't it? Self-loathing will eventually take its toll and will inevitably knock your confidence, which has a huge effect on everyday life.

Why do we need to be aware of Imposter Syndrome?

Because we need to be aware of the things that are harmful to us and feeling this way about ourselves isn't beneficial in any kind of way. We need to be kinder to ourselves starting now! And guess what? You can, as there is a way up and out of this never-ending vicious circle.

Most of us would resort to practising constant positive thinking or daily affirmations, telling ourselves that we are worthy and we must believe we are amazing - how exhausting and unrealistic?

Put your hands up if you have spent time and time again trying to concentrate on what you want to happen and how you want to feel and convincing yourself of all these positive things that you will feel? Again, we all have and it's totally normal.

Quick caveat - practising gratitude is not the same and if you have been practising gratitude - then carry on as it is all part of the simple process that I've practised for years and that's through the art of mindfulness.

Mindfulness is by far the most effective for restoring balance, confidence, realism and keeps you grounded. Coming from someone who has suffered from depression and high anxiety, I love what effect it has on me and I know it works.

We need to live in the here and now and in each precious moment, which requires your focus and commitment. You are an intelligent person, you are capable of amazing things and you know yourself more than anyone. There is no magic wand someone else can wave for you.

By practising mindfulness you can achieve even greater things, adapt your life how you want to adapt it without limits, challenge and push yourself instinctively.

There are many techniques you can try but here is a basic one which is also one of my favourites. I try to do this most mornings when I wake or evenings just before bed.

Sit in silence for 3-5 minutes on a chair, feet planted on the floor, back straight, shoulders relaxed and arms rested on your legs and simply breathe.

Breathe in and out counting each exhale and count up to 10.

This is a great way to stop your mind from going a million miles an hour. You can build up the time frame over the course of the day and week until you are practising around 10 minutes per day as a minimum for a few weeks.

The other technique that I love to practise is by noticing thoughts in my mind and start labelling those thoughts into categories such as; frustration, negativity, self-doubt and even positive thoughts about myself.

I visualise them either being carried away by the wind, a getting into a car or hopping onto a leaf. Again, there are several tools you just have to find your own method.

Try out these techniques the next time you have any imposter syndrome thoughts.

There is lots of amazing material available that you can use to develop your own strategy and benefits to practising mindfulness which I have highlighted throughout my lifestyle blog.