The Best Rx for the Impostor Syndrome
As a physician, I have a unique perspective on the world because I spend time with people backstage. Not the fancy, polished versions that the rest of you see. I get to see people when their masks are off and they are feeling vulnerable.
After practicing medicine for a few years, I discovered a pattern. You may not see it on the outside but I assure you, most people struggle with the Impostor Syndrome. Just in case you’re one of those who’s never encountered the Impostor, I’ll introduce you. The Impostor Syndrome feels like self-doubt, fear, and shame all rolled up into one. It’s that terrible feeling of being ashamed because you are supposed to know what you’re doing but you struggle with doubt. A dark ominous cloud hangs over your head waiting to blast you with a bolt of lightning the moment someone exposes you as a fraud. (In case you’re wondering, physicians struggle with this too. That’s why integrity is essential. The Impostor whispers, “Don’t you dare look it up! If you do, you’ll be admitting to yourself and everyone else that you don’t know everything!” Integrity’s voice beats the Impostor’s every time. If I don’t know something, I look it up.)
The consequence of the Impostor Syndrome is a lack of confidence and a preference to stay on the sidelines. “Why get involved? Why take risks? If I play it safe, no one will know.” However, If I listen to that inner voice, life isn’t much fun at all. With safety comes isolation, mediocrity, and regret.
So what’s the cure for the Impostor Syndrome? Unstoppable love. We don’t talk about love much in the workplace. Perhaps we should, because doubt dissipates when love shows up. I’m not talking about romance but rather the power that flows out of those who put others first. They are the ones who accept people right where they are. Flaws and all. The most pivotal moments in my life have been when friends comes alongside and say, “Hey buddy, I know you have flaws and I still love you anyway. Not only that, I still believe in you. In fact, I believe in you even more because you have flaws.”
Lately, I’ve been doing a lot of reading, thinking, and writing about the power of the inner voice. What does your conversation sound like? When the Impostor says you’re not good enough, strong enough, smart enough, wise enough, or attractive enough, what do you say back? The moment you show up for yourself with compassion, tenderness, and unstoppable love, everything changes.
Do I live in fear you’ll find out I’m flawed? Nope. I know I’m flawed. Two thousand years ago, the Apostle Paul went to God and asked him to take a “thorn” out of his flesh. Only Paul knows what the thorn was. But, one thing is for sure, he didn’t expect God’s response: “… My power is made perfect in your weakness.” Really? If that’s true, it changes everything. In this Kardashian world we live in, we strive to fit in. But what if we have it all upside-down? What if the real power is in the people who aren’t polished and perfect? What if the real power is in people like you and me?
The Impostor vaporizes when three things happen: I know I’m flawed, someone else knows it too, and they love me no matter what. What if the big plan is to use the broken, beat-up, and bruised to change the world? If so, why in the world would I entertain the Impostor‘s life-sucking comments that defeat me?
What if we flipped the world? Let’s reject the Impostor, accept ourselves, and encourage each other to get in the game. Consider the power of unstoppable love.