Ep #18 How A Mindset Coach Can Help You Overcome Imposter Syndrome

by | Feb 29, 2024 | Coaching, Motivation, Purpose, SCA Podcast

The Somatic Coaching Academy Podcast | Mindset Coach

Welcome to our latest discussion, where we delve into a topic that resonates deeply with so many of us: imposter syndrome. It’s a term that’s become ubiquitous in our conversations about self-perception and achievement, especially among our clients at the Somatic Coaching Academy. I’ve noticed an increasing number of individuals who come to us, expressing feelings of being an imposter, despite their apparent success and capabilities.

This phenomenon isn’t just limited to our coaching sessions. It’s widespread, touching the lives of countless professionals who can’t shake the feeling that they don’t truly deserve their accomplishments. This self-doubt can be paralyzing, affecting their ability to recognize and embrace their own success. It’s a topic that’s close to my heart, as I’ve witnessed the struggle and transformation of many who battle these feelings daily.

Personal Reflection on Self-Diagnosed Imposter Syndrome

In my experience, the dialogue around imposter syndrome often begins with a self-diagnosis. Many clients describe feeling like a fraud, waiting for the moment when they’ll be ‘found out,’ despite no evidence to suggest they’re anything but competent and deserving. This self-proclaimed imposter phenomenon is intriguing, as it reflects a broader trend in our society where individuals label their experiences, sometimes without a formal diagnosis or understanding of the underlying issues.

Despite outstanding academic and professional accomplishments, women who experience the imposter phenomenon persist into believing that they are really not bright and have fooled anyone who thinks otherwise. Share on X

This self-labeling can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it offers a sense of identity and community—a way to make sense of feelings of inadequacy. On the other hand, it can confine us, limiting our ability to see beyond the label and address the root causes of our feelings.

Understanding Imposter phenomenon

The Trend of Self-Diagnosis and Its Implications

The trend of self-diagnosing imposter phenomenon is a fascinating development in our culture. It speaks to a larger pattern where individuals seek to identify and name their experiences, often relying on information from the internet or popular media rather than professional guidance. While self-awareness is undoubtedly beneficial, the rush to label oneself can lead to misconceptions and missed opportunities for deeper understanding and growth.

Differentiating Between Feelings and Clinical Diagnoses

It’s crucial to differentiate between the feelings associated with the imposter phenomenon and a clinical diagnosis. Feelings of inadequacy, self-doubt, and fear of being exposed as a fraud are common and can be addressed through various strategies, including mindset coaching. However, when these feelings are pervasive and intense, and interfere with daily functioning, it’s important to seek professional advice.

In my approach, I encourage clients to explore their feelings without immediately attaching labels. By understanding the nuances of their experiences, we can develop more effective strategies to overcome the negative self-perceptions that contribute to the imposter phenomenon. It’s not about denying the feelings but about contextualizing them, exploring their origins, and, most importantly, learning how to move beyond them.

The Power of Labels

In our journey to understand ourselves and our place in the world, labels often serve as convenient shorthand. But what’s the real impact of these labels on our self-perception and actions? Let’s unpack this.

Influence of Labels on Self-Perception

Labels can be powerful. When we label our experiences or ourselves, we’re not just using words; we’re shaping our reality. For instance, when someone embraces the label of “imposter,” it’s not just a descriptor—it becomes an identity. This identity can influence how they approach challenges, perceive successes, and even view their worth.

The Impact of External Validation

Seeking external validation is natural. We want to be seen, understood, and validated by our peers and mentors. However, when external validation becomes the primary source of our self-esteem, it can lead to a dependency that undermines our self-trust. If we’re constantly looking outside ourselves for confirmation of our abilities, we might start to believe we’re only as good as the latest feedback or achievement, perpetuating the cycle of imposter phenomenon.

The Potential Harm of Labels

While labels can provide clarity and a sense of community, they can also box us in. If we’re not careful, a label like “imposter” can limit our growth and exploration. It can make us feel that our experiences are predetermined and that our capacity to change or evolve is restricted. This is why it’s crucial to approach labels with caution and mindfulness. 

In the same vein, we do not call imposter syndrome a syndrome because of the implications of the word syndrome on ourselves. We instead use the word ‘phenomenon’. Reshma gave an amazing commencement speech at Smith College. You could look up Smith College Commencement: Imposter Syndrome or bicycle face and you’ll find it.

The Somatic Coaching Academy Podcast | Mindset Coach

Historical Context of the Imposter Phenomenon

Understanding the roots of the imposter phenomenon offers valuable insights into how we can address it today. Let’s delve into its origins and the societal conditioning that amplifies its effects, especially on women.

The Origin of “Imposter Phenomenon”

The term “imposter phenomenon” originally emerged as “imposter phenomenon” in a 1978 study by psychologists Pauline Rose Clance and Suzanne Imes. They observed that despite their achievements, many high-achieving women believed they were not genuinely intelligent and had deceived others into thinking they were. This revelation wasn’t just about individual experiences; it highlighted a broader societal issue.

Societal Conditioning and Its Effects on Women

As a woman, I see the threads of societal conditioning woven through the fabric of the imposter phenomenon. Women, in particular, have been conditioned to question their competence and to attribute their successes to external factors rather than their abilities. This conditioning doesn’t just affect how women view themselves; it influences how they’re perceived and treated by others, perpetuating a cycle of doubt and underestimation.

In our discussions on the imposter phenomenon, we must consider these historical and societal contexts. They shed light on why simply “overcoming” imposter feelings isn’t about individual willpower; it’s about addressing deeper cultural narratives and empowering ourselves and others to redefine what it means to be competent, successful, and deserving.

As we continue to explore these themes, remember that understanding the past and our present conditioning can be powerful tools in rewriting our self-narratives and embracing our true potential, free from the constraints of outdated labels and expectations.

Beyond Labels: Collective Beliefs and Individual Experiences

In our exploration of the imposter phenomenon, it’s essential to consider the broader societal influences that shape our individual experiences. The collective beliefs and norms of our society play a significant role in how we perceive ourselves and our achievements.

Societal Beliefs Shaping Self-Perception

Our self-perception is not created in a vacuum. It’s influenced by the collective beliefs of our society—what success looks like, what it means to be competent, and how we should feel about our achievements. These societal norms can either reinforce or challenge our feelings of being an ‘imposter.’ When the collective narrative suggests that only certain types of success or ways of achieving are valid, it can lead to a disconnect between our personal experiences and societal expectations.

There’s a wonderful book and it’s one of my favorite books called The Sickening Mind. The author goes back through to do a historical review of how different diseases have gained popularity. Ulcers, for instance. Ulcers were a thing and that became a huge thing. Everybody had ulcers and then the ulcers went away. Low back pain became a huge thing, then everything going all the way back to like starting with disease processes that happened in medieval times.

Collective Intelligence and Its Influence

Collective intelligence, the shared knowledge and wisdom of a group, significantly impacts our personal experiences, including the phenomenon of imposter phenomenon. When many people around us express feelings of inadequacy or doubt their accomplishments, it can create an environment where such feelings are normalized and, paradoxically, validated. Recognizing this can help us understand that our personal experiences of the imposter phenomenon may be influenced by broader societal dynamics, not just individual shortcomings.

Deconstructing Imposter phenomenon

To truly address the imposter phenomenon, we must understand its common symptoms and recognize the naturalness of doubt and uncertainty, especially during growth phases.

Symptoms Associated with Imposter Phenomenon

Imposter phenomenon manifests in various ways, but common symptoms include 

  • persistent self-doubt, 
  • fear of being exposed as a fraud, 
  • attributing success to external factors, and 
  • a tendency to downplay achievements. 

These feelings are not isolated but part of a broader pattern of thought and behavior influenced by our environment and personal history.

Normalizing Feelings of Doubt in Growth Phases

In my journey and through my work with clients, I’ve observed that feelings of doubt and uncertainty are natural, especially when we’re growing or stepping into new roles. These feelings don’t necessarily signify inadequacy but rather reflect our engagement with challenging and unfamiliar situations. Recognizing this can demystify the experiences often labeled as imposter phenomena, allowing us to view them as normal aspects of personal and professional development rather than “symptoms” that something is wrong with us.

I was quoting books, there’s this great book Mastery by George Leonard. He talks about how mastery occurs in very brief short intervals of spikes. For the majority of the time, we are living on plateaus like our skill sets or whatever is that we’re growing. We spend most of the time on a plateau and then we’ll short spike and then we’ll live for a very long time and a plateau. It’s a wonderful little book. it’s super powerful.

Understanding that these feelings are common can help us approach them with compassion and curiosity, exploring their roots and learning to navigate them constructively. This perspective empowers us to embrace growth and change without being hindered by unfounded fears of inadequacy.

The Role of Mindset Coaching

In our journey to unravel the complexities of the imposter phenomenon, we introduce a transformative ally: somatic mindset coaching. This approach isn’t just about changing thoughts; it’s about integrating the mind and body to foster deep, lasting change.

Breaking down narratives can be so exceptionally hard because we’re breaking down something we cannot touch and feel. Share on X

Introduction to Somatic Mindset Coaching

Somatic mindset coaching is a holistic approach that recognizes the interconnection of the mind, body, and emotions. When we talk about overcoming the imposter phenomenon, we’re not just addressing cognitive beliefs; we’re engaging with the entire body-mind system. This method allows us to tap into the body’s wisdom, providing a more comprehensive pathway to understanding and transformation.

Awareness and Decoding in Overcoming Imposter Feelings

The first step in this process is awareness. It’s about becoming conscious of how imposter phenomenon manifests in our bodies and thoughts. Do we feel a tightening in the chest? A rush of anxiety when we’re about to speak up? By becoming aware of these reactions, we can start to decode them. Decoding involves understanding the messages behind our physical and emotional responses and where they came from which provides insights that can lead to profound shifts in how we perceive ourselves and our capabilities.

Transforming Sales Conversations

The imposter phenomenon doesn’t just affect our internal world; it influences our interactions with others, particularly in professional settings. Sales conversations, where we need to present our best, most confident selves, can become daunting under the weight of imposter feelings.

The Impact of Imposter Phenomenon on Professional Interactions

In sales or any professional interaction, confidence is key. But when the imposter phenomenon takes hold, it can undermine our self-assurance, making us question our expertise and value. This not only affects our performance but can also influence how others perceive us. Recognizing this impact is crucial in developing strategies to counteract the negative effects of the imposter phenomenon on our professional lives.

Strategies for Influential Conversations

Influential conversations are about more than just persuading others; they’re about connecting authentically, sharing knowledge, and helping others see possibilities. To navigate these interactions successfully, especially when feeling like an impostor, I advocate for a focus on possibilities rather than limitations. It’s about shifting the conversation from what we fear we lack to what we know we can offer.

Detachment from outcomes is another key strategy. When we’re overly invested in the result of a conversation, every interaction feels like a test we might fail. By detaching, we free ourselves to be present, to listen, and to respond genuinely—qualities that can transform any conversation, whether in sales or in life.

Non-attachment to the judgment of others is so liberating. Share on X

By embracing these approaches, we not only enhance our professional interactions but also take significant steps toward dismantling the imposter phenomenon that can hinder our growth and success.

Application in Daily Life and Relationships

While the conversation so far has focused largely on the realm of professional development and sales interactions, the principles and practices we discuss in mindset coaching have profound implications for personal growth and our relationships. Let’s explore how these ideas can permeate every aspect of our lives.

Extending Techniques Beyond Business

The strategies we employ to combat the imposter phenomenon in professional settings are equally transformative when applied to our personal lives. For instance, the practice of detaching from outcomes, while crucial in sales, is also liberating in personal endeavors and relationships. When we release our tight grip on expected results, we open ourselves to experiencing life more fully, embracing opportunities for growth and connection without the heavy burden of self-imposed expectations.

Adopting a New Perspective on Interactions and Self-Perception

Encouraging a shift in perspective can be incredibly empowering. Imagine applying the same principles of influential conversations—focusing on possibilities, being present, and authentic engagement—to your personal interactions. This approach fosters deeper connections with others and with ourselves, encouraging a more compassionate, understanding, and expansive view of our own experiences and those of the people around us.

If you’re experiencing self-doubt, you should actually pay attention to the opinions of the people around you because their outside perspective is more accurate. Share on X


As we conclude this exploration of the imposter phenomenon and the transformative power of somatic mindset coaching, I want to emphasize the importance of this journey—not just for individual growth but for our collective evolution.

The Importance of Addressing Imposter Phenomenon

The imposter phenomenon is more than just a personal challenge; it’s a societal issue that reflects our deepest fears and insecurities about belonging and worthiness. By confronting and overcoming these feelings, we not only liberate ourselves but also contribute to a culture where authenticity and self-acceptance are valued above perfection and external validation.

I urge you to take these insights and apply them in your life, to share your experiences and discoveries with others. The conversation about the imposter phenomenon and personal growth is ongoing, and each of us has valuable perspectives to contribute. By sharing our stories and strategies, we can support each other in this journey, fostering a community of growth, understanding, and transformation.
Let’s continue to explore, question, and expand our understanding of ourselves and the world around us. Your experiences, insights, and successes, no matter how small they may seem, are vital pieces of the larger puzzle of human experience. Share them, celebrate them. You can learn from our resources and programs how to overcome these feelings. Remember that in each step toward overcoming the imposter phenomenon, you’re not just bettering yourself—you’re contributing to a collective shift toward a more authentic and empowered society.

The above blog was based on the Somatic Coaching Academy podcast

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