I’m Not Good Enough
The lies we tell ourselves, how to overcome your inner imposter
Over the past few years, I have been working with myself and others to understand and then tame our inner beast to free ourselves of our imposter syndrome, finally.
WHAT IS IMPOSTER SYNDROME?
According to Wikipedia, ‘Impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon, impostorism, fraud syndrome or the impostor experience) is a psychological pattern in which one doubts one’s accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud”.’
In her 2008 article ‘Overcoming Imposter Syndrome’ for the Harvard Business Review, Gill Corkindale wrote:
‘Imposter syndrome can be defined as a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success. Imposters suffer from chronic self-doubt and a sense of intellectual fraudulence that override any feelings of success or external proof of their competence.’
For me it’s that nagging voice telling us that we can’t do it, we aren’t bright enough, pretty enough, intelligent enough, that we just aren’t enough.
As part of this work, I found that there is a common lie we tell ourselves, and understanding it allows you to recognise the key triggers to alert you that your imposter is alive and well and trying to take control and quash your dreams.
By sharing my story and the key triggers, you will be able to identify them for yourself and be armed to tame your beast and move forward into your future.
REFLECTIONS ON MY JOURNEY
I was reflecting on my routine before lockdown, where I would often go to a busy café to write. I remember the last time I was there getting ready to write, surrounded by people talking, laughing and getting on with their lives. I would wonder briefly what they think when they see me sat on my own; hiding behind the props of the modern world, laptop open, phone on the side and poised trying to gather my thoughts. I wondered if they could see my imposter, recognise my constant fear of being found out.
When anyone looked my way, I smiled and then put my head down and got back on with my thoughts, lost for a moment in the memory of my morning with my beautiful little girl – giggles with Scarlett as we got ready for the day ahead, the sheer joy of hearing her laugh and the squeals of delight as we yelled ‘I love you’ at each other while we played peek-a-boo.
Then that heart-breaking and heart-warming moment when she stopped, walked up to me and gasped ‘Mummy, you’re beautiful’.
Wow, my heart stopped for a second! As I sit here, the tears are welling up in my eyes at the memory – the honesty of her answer. The absolute knowledge that to her I am beautiful, I am enough, I am loved.
IMPOSTER SYNDROME IS ALIVE AND WELL
Of course, I know I am loved, not just by her but by my amazing family and friends. What strikes me is that for the longest time the one person who didn’t love me was me. It cuts deep when you say it out loud: I don’t love myself, I am not good enough, I’m not really sure I like myself sometimes.
Harsh but true, I can’t remember a time I ever have loved myself. I always felt that I wasn’t smart/pretty/funny/enough, that I wasn’t lovable. After all, if I couldn’t love myself, who else could love me?
My imposter syndrome is alive and well and fighting for control. Not unusual, many people struggle to tame their inner beast, the demon that invades their thoughts and tries to dampen their dreams.
THE BIGGEST LIE WE TELL OURSELVES
That brings me to the common lies. We think there are lots, but it all boils down to three little words: I’m not enough. Perhaps the most common is that inner voice that keeps saying you aren’t enough of something, to be that smart enough, rich enough, pretty enough, charismatic enough. We live in a society that is almost suffocating us on its compare and despair culture, we find ourselves comparing our lives to others and coming up short.
It provides us with another avenue to feel unworthy and has us facing another phenomenon FOPO (Fear of Other People’s Opinions) or to use its clinical name Allodoxaphobia. Which is defined by the medical-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com as:
‘Derived from the Greek words allo (different), dox (opinions) and
phobos (fear), it is the fear of hearing other people’s opinion.’
We convince ourselves that others are judging us and finding us as unworthy as we find ourselves, giving more fuel for our inner beast.
The biggest perhaps of the lies: we face the seemingly perfect world of our peers, celebrities, heroes, the world portrayed on social media. That world isn’t real; it is the airbrushed output of
HOW TO FIND YOUR UNFAIR ADVANTAGE
To quote a friend of mine, I found my ‘unfair advantage’, a weapon in my arsenal to fight the beast and regain control. I found it about two years ago, at one of the worst moments of my life. I was facing surgery, terrified that I might not see my little girl grow up, and my marriage ended as my husband had an affair. I thought my world had crumbled and it was all my fault because I wasn’t enough, I wasn’t lovable, I didn’t deserve to be happy. Many a night I berated myself for my many, many failings, and at my lowest ebb, I wrote a letter to my daughter, in case I didn’t make it through the surgery, a letter to try and give her the advice and love I wanted to share in
our life together. To say it was a sobering moment is perhaps one of the biggest understatements of my life. I sat and thought about where to start, what did I want to say, what advice did I want her to have to ensure she always knew how proud I was, how loved she is, how kind and gentle and loving, the impact she already had on the world and would go on to have.
WHOSE VOICE IS THAT?
I crept into her room to sneak a peek at her, listening to her gentle snores, watching her breathe, and a thought hit me so hard I think for a second, my heart stopped. I realised at that moment that the voice we use to talk to ourselves is the one we teach our children to speak to themselves. Just think about that for a moment; would you ever want your children to talk to themselves like you do?
Our children learn not just by what we say, but by what we do and I realised at that moment that given a chance I would do everything I could to ensure that voice never became the one in
I went back downstairs and wrote her the letter, shared all my hopes and dreams, my love, and the fact that no matter what happened I would always be on her side, always be proud, always
love her. Everyone who knows me knows I love a quote, and for once this quote is mine, it came from that letter, and it keeps me grounded:
‘Dream big, be kind, stay curious and believe, because you are proof that miracles happen.’
I wrote it for Scarlett, and then I realised it was true for us all, we are all someone’s miracle.
IF I CAN, SO CAN YOU
I was fortunate, I got through the surgery, I rebuilt our lives, and I did so because of my unfair advantage, Scarlett. Whenever my inner beast tries to take charge, I ask myself, ‘What would I want Scarlett to say to herself at this moment?’ and I make that my voice in my head.
TOOLS FOR YOUR ARSENAL
The next time your inner voice says you not enough, ask yourself:
»Whose voice is that anyway?
»Why are they talking? What is their purpose?
»What would I say to my child, best friend, sibling or parent if I heard them talk about themselves like this?
TAMING THE BEAST
By reframing your thinking, you can move past the lie and the inner beast, the voice in your head which has controlled you for so long. Suddenly it won’t be so scary anymore. As the quote says:
You are too smart to be the only thing standing in your way
And so I am brought back to that café, back to reality, ready to get on with my day, and just like I did that day, I look back down at my laptop and start to write……
I hope this has helped, and if you would like to hear more about my journey and how it can help you in overcoming your imposter syndrome and taming your inner beast you might want to join me here: www.linktr.ee/Kimadele10
Kim-Adele Platts is an Interim CEO, entrepreneur and board-level coach who specialises
in helping executives lead with impact and humanity. Her journey has taken her from an NVQ in hairdressing to the boardrooms of the FTSE 250.
With over 25 years of experience, Kim has established a reputation as a transformational leader. She consistently generates new business and has turned underperforming companies into market leaders despite challenging environments.
An international bestselling author and speaker on leadership and business, Kim is also a Non-Exec Director with the IoD, Academy Trust and Mary’s Meals. You can contact her here www.kimadele.org