Women are more likely to struggle with imposter syndrome than men. Here Rachel Gallardo PhD suggests ways of silencing the lies of the enemy and remembering that God says he ‘gives us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control’.
First researched in the 1970s by Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes, imposter syndrome is a “pervasive feeling of self-doubt, insecurity and incompetence despite evidence that you are skilled and successful.” Further research showed that “women are most likely to experience this syndrome.”
The nagging thoughts and raging insecurities seep into our work responsibilities, care we provide to our families, and even in the small activities, like how we clean our home. Add on the comparisons women tend to make to other women on social media and in our day-to-day lives, and the issue becomes that much more magnified, robbing women of joy and preventing them from using the gifts and abilities they have been given. But it does not have to be this way.
We need to shift our mindset to see ourselves how God sees us instead of through the negative paradigm in which we often see ourselves.
You are not an imposter. You are skilled and successful. God’s word in 2 Timothy 1:7 says: “God gives us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.” (ESV) Knowing this information, we need to shift our mindset to see ourselves how God sees us instead of through the negative paradigm in which we often see ourselves.
Below are some suggestions on how to shift your mindset, not only to protect yourself from imposter syndrome but to see yourself as the beautifully and wonderfully made child of God that you are.
Face Your Fears
Our brains are wired for fear avoidance. We want to live in a comfortable environment and do not want to be distressed or feel negative emotions. I’m not here to tell you that you won’t feel afraid. I’m telling you to do it afraid. I’m terrified of heights, and every year we have a professional development event that forces me to do something with my feet off the ground. Every year, I face my fear and learn something about myself in the process. Every year, it becomes a bit easier, even though I’m still afraid. I’ve simply learned to do it afraid. Building on this experience, I am able to do other things afraid as well.
When we are stressed by imposter syndrome, it can be easy to look for ways to make us feel better. If you are an emotional eater, inhaling the entire bag of potato chips is a quick fix. The dopamine high from those salty ingredients may help us for a minute, but the lasting negative effect of self-guilt and (eventual) weight gain is greater. Instead of caving into emotional eating, we go for a walk, call a friend, or clean the house. When we can have victory over the junk food in our pantry, practicing discipline and selfcontrol, we are in a position for God to use us more fully and effectively.
Practice Loving Yourself
This last one can be challenging, but, ultimately, we must learn to love ourselves if we are to believe in ourselves. When was the last time you did something just for you? Reading a book, doing some window shopping, or making time for a mani/pedi are great ways to show yourself love. When you love yourself, it’s hard to doubt yourself. These two opposite ideas cannot be in the same vessel. Doubt and uncertainty are common, but they don’t have to overtake your life. When you feel these emotions start to rise, and we have all felt them a time or 20 before, use these tips to help you address your imposter syndrome. In the end, you are not alone. Philippians 4:13 reminds us of what we are capable of when we do things through and with God.