Impost-Her Syndrome

Updated: Dec 17, 2020

At my workshops I always start by telling the group of women I’m working with who I am and what I’m all about:

Welcome. For those of you who don’t already know of my greatness, my name is Jessica Doyle and I’m a vocal coach. I’m here today because I’m really fucking tired of watching women live in silent mediocrity and fear, when they have the power to use their voices to get the hell up and out.

Or you know, something like that. Then I ask anyone who’d like to, to share why they decided to come. At my last workshop, a woman raised her hand and shared her story, and it stuck to me so hard I needed to share it here. It went something like this:

Hi everyone. I’m Rachel. I’m an attorney. Well, actually I have a JD/MD, so I guess I’m technically a doctor too. I recently made partner at my firm, and I’m terrified that someone is going to walk into my office and say, “Who let you in here? You don’t belong here. Get out.”

Mama, let me just unpack this for a moment. Rachel, who, by the way, was gorgeous and didn’t look a day over 30, wasn’t content with just being a doctor or a lawyer, so she became both. She overachieved the overachievers. She passed the boards and the bar. She made partner, which is, like, really hard to do and did it before she was 35. And she was terrified that someone was going to call her bluff. Um, what?

Rachel was suffering from something I like to call “Impost-Her Syndrome.” Impost-Her Syndrome is when women: educated, qualified, experienced women, still think they aren’t good enough. Now, I am not a therapist, so I’m not going to even attempt to unpack the events that lead Rachel to this particular point in her journey, but what I am going to do is tell her and you, that this is not ok.

It is not ok for anyone, even the voice in your head, to deny your worth.

You know what voice I’m talking about, right? The one that shows up when you have an idea for a new business, think about finishing your college degree, or decide to say “No,” instead of people-pleasing. The one that whispers, “You can’t do that. It’s too hard. Think about what people will say.” I have that voice, her name is Sheila, and she’s very dramatic. When she shows up I tell her to grab a LaCroix and take a seat in the lobby, because I do not have time for that shit right now.

Telling that voice to take a seat, takes work. Here's how to start:

Here are 2 Quick Exercises to Quiet the Negative Self-Talk in Your Head from NY Times Best Selling author Marc Chernoff of Marc & Angel Hack Life. Marc & Angel have spent the past decade writing about & teaching proven strategies for finding lasting happiness, success, love and peace.

  1. Record and Review Your Negativity in Real Time: when a negative thought arrives, instead of ignoring it, play closer attention to it & record it. For example, if you just started a new job and start thinking, "I'm not good enough, I can't do this," stop and write it down. Then quickly write down what triggered the thought, something like, "I'm younger than most of the people I'm managing and am worried they won't take me seriously."

  2. Change the Thought into a Question: challenge yourself by turning the negative thought into a question: "I'm not good enough, I can't do this??" Can you be absolutely sure the answer is yes? Find evidence to the contrary. Think about times you've been totally able to accomplish your task, even when it was really tough. Do you fall short sometimes? Sure, we all do. What's important is reflecting on your reality more accurately.

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