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How I Strengthen My Mental Fitness to Combat Imposter Syndrome

Updated: May 21

Recently, a recruiter contacted me on LinkedIn, asking me to apply for a career coaching position. Even though they reached out to me, I felt paralyzed at the prospect of tailoring a resume for the role. Despite the fact that I have years of relevant professional experience and a combination of skills that would make me an excellent fit.

I felt the familiar dread that sets in when I put myself out there to apply for a job - the nagging voice of self-doubt that questions why someone would even consider me as a candidate and discourages me from taking action towards my career goals. 

The irony is not lost on me.

As someone who has spent the last several years working as a career coach and is well-versed in the tips and tricks of navigating the hiring process, I still feel like a fraud when applying for jobs. It’s true.

imposter syndrome

I know the steps to format my resume to catch the eye of a hiring manager, but I hate writing about myself and face nearly insurmountable writer’s block. I know how to word the answer to an interview question to provide tangible evidence of how I’ll get the job done, but I get incredibly anxious in interviews and stumble over my words. I share this to let you know that imposter syndrome and self-doubt are pervasive elements of job searching, even when we find ourselves in situations where we’re more than qualified for the role. 

When it comes to our careers, imposter syndrome and self-doubt rear their ugly heads in several ways:

  • Job Hunting Challenges: Feeling overwhelmed by self-doubt after facing numerous rejections during a job search.

  • Stagnation in Current Role: Feeling stuck in a current role but hesitating to explore other opportunities due to fear of failure.

  • Promotion Hesitation: Being reluctant to ask for a promotion or pursue advancement opportunities because of a lack of confidence in one’s abilities.

These feelings can be paralyzing. Preventing individuals from taking risks, pursuing their goals, and realizing their full potential. In my case, I have developed the tools to combat my imposter syndrome by leveraging the research-based Positive Intelligence program to strengthen my mental fitness (and I loved it so much that I am now certified to teach it… more on that later). 

What is Positive Intelligence?

I learned about Positive Intelligence a year ago, shortly after getting laid off from a job I loved. The Positive Intelligence framework was developed by Stanford researcher, Shirzad Chamine, based on synthesizing four breakthrough areas of science: neuroscience, positive psychology, cognitive psychology, and performance science. One of the main concepts of the program is that “every outcome or circumstance can be converted into a gift or opportunity.” I became really interested in reflecting on the gifts that could be found in this “unfortunate” circumstance of job loss and career upheaval. I was also curious to learn about the science behind our automatic thought patterns and eager to learn how I could train myself to choose a response to a challenging situation consciously. 

I signed up for the six-week Positive Intelligence program to begin building my mental fitness. Just as physical fitness requires consistent exercise and training, mental fitness requires intentional practice and effort. The idea behind the six-week boot camp-style program is that it’s the minimum amount of practice necessary to create lasting new mental habits. 

Throughout the program, I learned how to develop the three core muscles at the root of mental fitness, which enable you to handle life’s challenges with a positive mindset without getting stressed or upset. I learned that we each have a constant war going on inside our brains between our “Sage” (our inner Jedi) and our “Saboteurs” (our inner Darth Vaders). These two regions of our brains are wired very differently and, when activated, produce very different thoughts and attitudes. The Saboteur region of your brain motivates you through negative emotions like shame, guilt, anger, and stress. The Sage, on the other hand, motivates you through positive emotions like empathy, curiosity, passion, and purpose. 

positive intelligence

Now, in moments when I’m experiencing imposter syndrome, I’m able to recognize and interrupt the negative self-talk in my head. I understand that the negative emotions and paralysis that I associate with job-hunting stem from the automatic negative thought patterns of my Saboteurs. I’m able to intercept self-judgment and utilize the five Sage Powers I learned through the Positive Intelligence program to focus on the gifts in any situation. I know it’s unlikely that my imposter syndrome will be banished altogether, but thanks to learning about the Positive Intelligence framework, I feel equipped with the tools to handle it when it pops up.

Are you ready to combat imposter syndrome and boost your capacity to handle the challenges of your job search? Would you like to approach job hunting filled with positive emotions like curiosity, creativity, and laser-focused action? I’m excited to begin offering the Positive Intelligence program to Talent Career Coaching clients in conjunction with more traditional career coaching. I believe it prepares people to deal with the ways so many of us self-sabotage when making career decisions. 

Watch the recording of our webinar to learn about the science behind the research-backed Positive Intelligence program and how to develop your core mental muscles to approach career decisions with increased clarity and confidence in just six weeks.


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