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Rose C Jiggens

How To Overcome Imposter Syndrome

Posted by Rose C Jiggens Tension and Trauma Practitioner 64 Days Ago


What is Imposter Syndrome?

With Imposter Syndrome no matter how objectively high our achievements are, we will feel that we don’t deserve them. Studies show* imposter syndrome often co-exists with depression, anxiety and low self esteem. It can be experienced in all genders though some studies show it to be more common in women; imposter syndrome has been found to be more common in African, Asian and Latino American college students too.

Overcoming Imposter Syndrome with Transforming Touch®:

Developmental trauma can underlie imposter syndrome feelings. If we endured adverse early conditions, our bodies may never have known “feeling safe”. In such conditions we develop "defensive accommodations" as a way to survive. These are ways of being, thoughts, beliefs or physiological responses, that emerge to keep us safe in adverse conditions.

While imposter syndrome is evidently maladaptive in adult life, as a child hyper-vigilance, perfectionism or always second guessing ourselves may have been an essential way of coping in adverse circumstances. The adverse circumstances could include the limited availability (emotional or otherwise) of our primary care givers, poor schooling experiences, adverse economic conditions, childhood trauma or racial discrimination.

The causes will be important to talk through in order to fully grasp the root causes of imposter syndrome. In addition to talking however, what’s happening in the body and nervous system of someone with imposter syndrome is important to address as well.

This is where Transforming Touch® is so helpful as a therapy to support the healing of imposter syndrome. It’s hard to talk our way out of survival defences learned before we could even talk. Survival defences are ingrained deep into the functioning of our kidney adrenals, brainstem, HPA axis and other ares of our physiology.

Using talking AND the Transforming Touch® 7 point protocol: greater narrative understanding can take root in a physiology that learns to settle into a deep parasympathetic rest state, supported by co-regulating presence and attachment informed therapy.

Overcoming Imposter Syndrome With Family Constellations:

Sometimes the root causes of imposter syndrome may not be apparent, this is when we might turn to a constellation to help. It is my experience from working with many clients with imposter syndrome, that the trauma of past generations might lead to anxiety and imposter syndrome in the present. This can happen even when we are not directly aware of or impacted by the trauma because it happened several generations ago.

Examples from my practice include uncovering the experience of a great grand parent who emigrated and found themselves subject to racial discrimination in a new land. The client themselves had never experienced racial discrimination. However standing the shoes of their great grandparent, they were able to make sense of their own feelings as they realised "this is what you felt and I have carried the memory of it within me".

Another imposter syndrome client was the only living child of parents who had two late stage miscarriages. When standing between their missing siblings, they came to recognise a burdensome sense of never being enough: as if they were always trying to make up for the lost lives which of course, they could never do.

Family constellations are very helpful when there is no obvious cause for our suffering. Causes that lie further back in our ancestry may not have been addressed by therapies that only focus on our life since we were born. Identifying these root cause can often help imposter syndrome heal, supported by other therapies from my practice.

Overcoming Imposter Syndrome with Trauma Sensitive Breathwork:

Imposter Syndrome can sneak up just when we need to be our best: whether thats to give a presentation or attend an important interview or meeting. In trauma sensitive breathwork, I will teach you tools that develop greater agency in regards to the trauma responses of your body.

The part of us that feels afraid often is very young, thats why I also call this work inner child healing. Often we can unconsciously be in an abusive relationship with our inner child parts, wishing they would just get out of the way so that we can get on with the project of out adult life.

These inner child or trauma parts can respond well when we turn towards them and find out what they need. We do this by using our breath as a gateway into our bodies, helping to develop our skills of interoception. Developing our interoceptive skills has been shown in studies to have positive benefits for our mental and emotional health.

In Trauma Sensitive Breathwork: you will be guided in practices such as Orienting, Pendulation and HRV Breathing, to bring about healing for your inner child and greater agency to self soothe and to calm, just when you need it most!

Overcoming Imposter Syndrome using the Wheel of Consent:

A core facet of imposter syndrome is that we feel others will judge and view us negatively, if only they knew who we truly are. From this core belief, a great deal of our conscious and unconscious effort can be engaged in actions designed to prevent the shame and humiliation of exposure. We can feel unable to reveal our true self in relationship: our daily actions, words and behaviours, being shaped by our perception (real or otherwise) of what other people want or demand of us. This is sometimes also know as a fawn response: an essential survival mechanism that evolved at one time or another to keep us safe.

In my therapist toolkit, I have found The Wheel of Consent (WoC) to be an essential psychoeducational model, that aids recovery from unconscious hiding of our true self. The WoC is a relationship agreement model that helps bring greater clarity to agreements made in all sorts of relational contexts, from work through to intimate relationships. The WoC also offers an embodied touch practice - helping us relearn how to notice, trust, value and communicate what we want - and where our limits and boundaries lie too. What we learn through the agreement model - anchored in our body through practice - filters out into all aspects of life helping us be more authentic.

The Journal of Mental Health and Clinical Psychology: Commentary: Prevalence, Predictors, and Treatment of Imposter Syndrome: A Systematic Review