Understanding Imposter Syndrome with Dr. Lisa Orbé Austin
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Hello, most awesome one. I'm Ahyiana Angel and you are listening to the Quit Playing Small podcast. Your space for inspired thinking, encouragement, and goodness. Today we're getting a bit more acquainted with the idea of imposter syndrome. I'm bringing in an expert for this one. Dr. Lisa Orbé Austin. She is a psychologist and she specializes in imposter syndrome.
And she's also co-author two books Own Your Greatness and Your Unstoppable Greatness. Imposter Syndrome is one of those buzzy words that people are throwing around right now, which is why I wanted to bring in an expert to give us some insight because it feels like it can apply to all of us at one point in time or another. But what does it really mean?
It's a phenomenon that you experience when you are highly achieved. You have accomplishments, you have skills, you have experience, you have credentials. However, you have not internalized those credentials, experience, accomplishments. As a result, you're constantly feeling fearful that you might get exposed as a fraud or that you're incompetent in whatever area you have expertise in.
And as a result of that, you either overwork or self-sabotage in a method to either cover up the anxiety or to actually kind of lean into the anxiety around the performance. And then it leads you into these experiences of overwork and burnout and really feeling like you are sort of at your witts end.
Ooh. Now, this is interesting. So basically, we could be overworking ourselves and engaging in self-sabotaging behavior simply due to imposter syndrome that we didn't even know we had. Hmm. I wonder, has it ever crossed your mind, because it hasn't crossed my mind that imposter syndrome could be correlated to some of the minor day-to-day things that we do? I'm curious to know, as our mind starts swirling now, how would we know if our behaviors and actions truly are bordering on imposter syndrome?
You fear making mistakes and when you do make a mistake, you kind of hyperfocus on it and fear that it's actually a risk of exposing yourself as a fraud. You can be very perfectionistic and really struggle to kind of let anything go unless it's absolutely perfect, largely cuz it's connected to that experience of fraudulent.
You can find yourself in certain roles like being a super person or a superwoman, superman, where you just always feel like you are the go-to. You have to rescue everyone. You get cotton, these dynamics to kind of prove that you are worthy and that these dynamic. You never can fully ever prove that you're worthy. The dynamics themselves don't solve it, and so you're constantly in a search to prove that you're worthy and get all this external validation from other people that doesn't help you to actually internalize yours accomplishments.
Now, I'm just thinking of all the things. I wonder if there's a correlation between imposter syndrome and confidence. Hmm.
At the very foundation of imposter syndrome is the inability to internalize accomplishments. There's a couple different factors that are at the foundation, but that's one of the most central ones, and oftentimes part of having good self-confidence is being able to internalize and accept the things that you have done, the experience that you have, the skills that you have, and be able to action them and live in them. And when you have imposter syndrome, you struggle to actually internalize any of those accomplishments, so as a result, you struggle with self-confidence. So there's a direct correlation between confidence and imposter syndrome, but lower the self confidence, oftentimes the higher the imposter syndrome.
Now that we know what imposter syndrome is and we can identify some of the signs, we need to know what we can do to help us work through it. We are trying to get on the other side of these things. Insight please.
When we have imposed, oftentimes we're not sharing this with others, we're keeping it to ourselves. It's a very secretive, cuz it, if you tell somebody, then you're actually admitting that you, that you believe you're fraud's gonna actually do that. That's your worst fear, right? And so like, oftentimes we suffer in silence and it's not helpful for us.
We need to be able to communicate these things, share with other people. What's weird about it, I think, is that oftentimes people don't believe us because we are very accomplished. So they are like, What are you serious? Come on. And that can be really kind of disheartening and, and upsetting because it takes a lot for us to reveal it.
And then when somebody dismisses it, it, it really, it really. Troubles us around sort of being able to trust other people with our experiences. So I do think it's sometimes telling more than one person telling a couple people. So you find people who actually do believe you and do get it, and it is not relying on them for external help to totally get you out of this, but you've gotta do your own work.
And then really using them to kind of keep you on that path, to use the tools, to use the skills to kind of keep yourself outta the imposter syndrome, not to kind of constantly tell you, you're amazing, you're great. That's not enough. They really have to hold you accountable to the skills that you need to kind of overcome your imposter syndrome.
But one of the most important things in, the thing that I think people find very sticky in terms of a topic and they they get excited about is, is automatic negative thoughts. And so automatic negative thoughts are triggered by these moments of performance. And then we have this. Thought like, Oh, I'm never gonna be able to do that.
Or, Oh, you know, I made a mistake. Everyone thinks I'm a fool. So learning to understand that you are not your thoughts, you are the observer of your thoughts, is a famous quote by Amit Ray that I love that is really about understanding that that thought is not you. Your job is to question and challenge that thought.
Look for evidence for that thought. And if there is no evidence for that thought, your job and responsibility is to counter that thought with a positive tape, something that is based in reality and grounded in fact, then. And you know, data really getting into the habit of challenging these automatic thoughts and building a process around doing that is critically important.
Kind of dealing with imposter syndrome, you can be highly successful and be succeeding in a bunch of different domains and still have imposter syndrome. You don't have to experience imposter syndrome everywhere, but if you're experiencing it in very specific domains that are affecting your goals, your dreams, the things that you.
For yourself, then it's important to deal with it. Face it, head on. There are so many amazing people out in the world who are just like truly skilled and talented and amazing, and are not living in their full greatness. My goal is to see as many people as possible freed from this.
Wow. Dr. Lisa, I admire that goal because I'm right there with you. It's not an easy thing to tackle imposter syndrome, but I wanna help with that goal as much as I can. So I'm glad we touched on this topic today. Dr. Lisa just gave us plenty to work with. One big thing that I took away from what Dr. Lisa was saying is that countering these automatic negative thoughts is so important.
Like if we can't find any evidence to support that negative thought, then it's not valid and we have to let it go. I love that. I'm gonna lean into that more cause it's important to have an awareness of when these negative thoughts pop into your head. And whether it's related to imposter syndrome or not, it's important to just try and be aware and present with these thoughts so that we can redirect that energy and turn it into a positive.
And I just love that she called that out. That is something that we can all take away from today's episode and imposter syndrome may have us thinking these negative thoughts but we redirect those thoughts. We have that power. We can interrogate the thoughts and then figure out what we want to do with them once we realize that they are not true.
I'm so grateful to Dr. Lisa for sharing her expertise with us today, and I hope that you walked away with a little something that you can use in the future if there are any other hard-hitting topics that you want to hear me tackle on the Quit Playing Small podcast and bring in an expert for, please feel free to DM me on Instagram.
That's Ahyiana dot Angel, a h y i a n a, dot Angel, or you can leave it in the review section on Apple. That works just as well. Thank you so much for spending time with Dr. Lisa and me today. As always, I appreciate your presence and if you want more goodness, be sure to head over to I Quit playing small.com where you can also download your free Quit Playing Small journal today.
As always, big hugs and be well.
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