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Are You Sabotaging Yourself Because You Feel Like an Impostor?

Every Harry Potter fan knows who Emma Watson is. She’s the talented girl who portrayed Hermione Granger, the actress who grew up before our eyes into a beautiful young woman with a blossoming career. Who would think that a budding young star like this would have anything to feel insecure about? But as Emma Watson herself says, she feels like an impostor. “It’s almost like the better I do, the more my feeling of inadequacy actually increases, because I’m just going: ‘Any moment, someone’s going to find out I’m a total fraud and that I don’t deserve any of what I’ve achieved.”

It’s called the Impostor Syndrome (IS), and yes; even famous, beautiful, seemingly confident people can suffer from it. As Emma puts it: “I can’t possibly live up to what everyone thinks I am and what everyone’s expectations of me are.”

If someone like Emma Watson can suffer from Impostor Syndrome, it probably comes as no surprise that research shows that more than 70% of people report experiencing this at some point in their lives. In fact, it’s one of the most common reasons why successful people reach plateaus in their careers and can’t seem to achieve or grow any more. People suffering from this syndrome truly don’t believe they are worthy of any higher level. They fear that if they get too much success, resulting in too much visibility, someone will figure out they have no idea what they’re doing.

“I have written eleven books, but each time I think, ‘Uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody and they’re going to find me out.” This quote is from Maya Angelou. Yes, THE Maya Angelou. However, what’s different about those such as Emma Watson and Maya Angelou and many of those suffering IS is that they have found a way to push through it and continue to achieve greater levels of success. Many have not yet found a way to do that resulting in careers that have either stalled or even slid backward.

Where does this syndrome come from? Most of the time, it stems from a deep down feeling of unworthiness. Usually, this begins in childhood. Perhaps the person suffering from IS was told by a parent or teacher that they weren’t good enough, smart enough or attractive enough to achieve success. Those with the syndrome may not even recall this happening as it might be buried so deep down in their subconscious they are not aware it still affects them. But if you find yourself consistently sabotaging relationships because you can’t see yourself as part of a happy couple, losing huge contracts or sales deals that could take your company to the next level or blowing the chance at a promotion that you honestly had a good shot of getting, it’s possible that you are holding yourself back for just these reasons.

If you feel you may suffer from Impostor Syndrome, here a few tips to help you begin to make the shift from self-sabotaging limiting beliefs to empowering ones that propel your success:

  1. Internalize external validation. When someone congratulates you on a job well done or praises you, fight your initial instinct to brush it off. Thank the person and allow their words to really sink in.

  2. Make a list. Sit down and write down all of your accomplishments over the past year. Note projects you finished, compliments you have received, any piece of validation you can recall. Once you really look at what you’ve done on paper, you should begin to see you really do deserve where you are in life.

  3. Have a sense of humor. Many people suffering from Impostor Syndrome have a difficult time relaxing and joking, especially in the workplace, because they are terrified of not being taken seriously. Allow yourself to laugh, especially at yourself! We all deserve to enjoy our work.

Impostor Syndrome is just one of the possible ways we sabotage ourselves, sometimes without even knowing it. If you’re interested in finding out more about Impostor Syndrome or other ways we self-sabotage, please feel free to contact me and schedule a complimentary consultation.

Trish Cody has over 18 years of experience working with the world’s top Fortune 500 Companies. As a Certified Professional Coach and Energy Leadership Master Practitioner, Trish works with clients to uncover their core values and beliefs, understand how they are showing up in their behaviors and habits, and to learn a process of leading energy to naturally attract positivity and success. For more information, visit or call (402) 995-1113.

All rights reserved; Trish Cody Coaching LLC; 2015

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