#20 Mary: Identifying and dealing with the Imposter Syndrome

How to befriend your imposter?

Mary K. Kobia is a Senior Global Mobility Consultant at the University of Copenhagen and she works with supporting international researchers and their spouses on developing their talents and careers.

Over the years, Mary noticed in her work that many international researchers struggle with:

  • Imposter Syndrome
  • Determining/acknowledging their transferable skills
  • Understanding Danish culture and communication

What is the Imposture Syndrome?

Psychological patterns where individuals doubt their accomplishments and constantly think they are a fraud and will get exposed eventually. They feel inadequate and believe they don’t deserve their achievements. If somebody suffers from it and he/she accomplishes something they think that was due to luck and external factors instead of their abilities and competencies. Typically, people overwork to compensate for their imposture.

Everyone has it – it is a universal emotion just like fear, hate and love.

The first step, when you want to befriend your imposter is to acknowledge that you have it. That it is a part of you just like all other feelings you have.

You can then start studying your habits around your imposture; for example: When you are under pressure, what characterises your behaviour?

What is or are your dominant coping strategies?

  • Trying to please people?
  • Trying to be perfect?
  • Trying to be aware of everything that’s going on; i.e. over-thinking everything?
  • Changing your body language and tone of voice?

And in terms of pressure – What sets you under pressure? That can also be a clue  for your coping strategy. E.g. is it someone’s closed body language or mimic that make you nervous? Then maybe your imposture rises its voice in the form of overthinking.

Then think:

  • What person do I want to be?
  • How can I use my body language to calm my imposture?
  • How can I reframe (and rephrase) my inner dialogue

Ultimately, working with (not against) your imposture may result in you being more inner driven than outer driven, in you allowing yourself to unfold more facettes of yourself, to have more power.

Taming your emotions is like training a muscle: no one can do it for you and it can be hard and uncomfortable sometimes – However, the results will be a healthier, more energetic version of yourself.

Along the journey:

  • Don’t confuse humbleness with imposture – where the former will lift you up and the other will drag you down emotionally.
  • When comparing yourself to others. Where does it lead to? Does it do any good for anybody?
  • Also, when applying for jobs, the imposter may be with you. Therefore, don’t only focus on the mechanics of a job search like writing a CV and finding openings but also allow yourself focus on your mental health and well-being

Further, Mary shares her own Imposter story with us, tells us why beautiful brains shouldn’t have ugly thoughts, why we should learn about our feelings at school and talk more about them.

If you would like to connect with Mary check out LinkedIn.

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