Have you ever heard of imposter syndrome? Perhaps hypnosis for imposter syndrome? Before we dive into how hypnosis can help someone suffering from this condition, let’s look at a bit of history first.
Imposter syndrome is when you believe your success is due to luck, and not due to your talent, your qualifications, or your hard work.
It was identified by psychologists Pauline Rose Clance and Suzanne Imes in a research paper in 1978.
They initially thought it only applied to women, but it can actually apply to anyone who is unable to take credit for their own success.
Several techniques have been used to try and deal with it in the past.
However, recent studies are finding that one of the best ways to overcome imposter syndrome is with hypnosis.
In fact, more and more people are turning to hypnotherapy to help them manage it.
Before looking at some of the hypnotic tools you might use to tackle it, let’s find out a bit more about the syndrome and how it affects people.
What Is Impostor Syndrome?
Imposter syndrome is basically a form of insecurity.
On their website, the Harvard Business Review describes it as a “collection of feelings of inadequacy” that stay with a person no matter how much success they enjoy.
It’s a complex issue where the sufferer feels like a fraud, a fake, or a phony, and that somehow they don’t deserve their accomplishments.
Since Clance and Imes first recognized it, a range of symptoms have been identified, including the following:
In work environments, people with the syndrome might take on extra projects just to make sure they aren’t underperforming.
They’ll also dismiss praise or compliments as unworthy.
They won’t apply for jobs or opportunities unless they’re absolutely certain they meet every single requirement.
According to the folks at verywellmind.com, imposter syndrome can motivate some sufferers to achieve, but at the cost of constant anxiety.
They tend to overdo it so that nobody finds out they’re a fraud.
But the real problem is this: even when they do something well, an outstanding piece of work, for example, it doesn’t change what they think or believe.
And because they generally don’t talk about how they’re feeling, their growing anxiety can eventually lead to depression.
So why does hypnosis for imposter syndrome make sense?
The syndrome isn’t recognized in the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders from the American Psychiatric Association) or the ICD (International Classifications for Disease).
That means there’s no need for a medical referral in order for hypnotherapists to work with clients suffering from this condition.
But why do people suffer from it in the first place?
In other words, what actually causes imposter syndrome?
Some researchers believe it stems from the labels parents attach to their children, with one child being the “brainy” one and another being the “sensitive” one.
Another theory is that those who develop imposter syndrome come from a background where they were praised and criticized in equal measure in a willy-nilly sort of way.
The exact cause is not obvious, but there are some situations that can trigger it, such as taking up a new role where you feel incapable or you feel you don’t belong.
Or entering a new environment where you might feel a little more self-conscious, being the new kid on the block, so to speak.
Who Is Affected By Imposter Syndrome?
Imposter syndrome expert Valerie Young has identified a number of distinct personality traits in sufferers, listed below with a brief explanation for each:
These are people who tend to berate themselves for even the smallest mistake. They’re control freaks who like to micromanage projects and can’t let go. They also won’t delegate for fear things will go wrong, which causes tension and stress among colleagues.
These are people who thirst for knowledge and will obsess over gaining credentials or certificates. They’ll refuse to tackle a project unless they’re sure they have all the skills. They won’t apply for a job or promotion if they’re lacking the slightest qualification, and they’ll freak out if referred to as an expert, although they likely really are experts.
The Natural Genius
These are people for whom things tend to come naturally and easily. They’re competent and good at what they do. When faced with a difficult task they can’t deal with right away, however, they see themselves as failures.
These are people who need to do things on their own. They refuse to ask for help and see it as a weakness to have to admit they need assistance with anything.
The Superman / Superwoman
These are the workaholics who push themselves to work harder than those around them. They need validation from others that they’ve done a good job and need to succeed in all areas of their lives. They have to work hard to keep this going because the reward they get from this validation never lasts very long.
Imposter syndrome is linked to other psychological disorders, including stress, depression and social anxiety.
The feelings experienced by sufferers tend to go in cycles. The more the person achieves, the more they feel they don’t deserve their success.
It’s prevalent in any settings where people interact, but is especially noticeable in settings like:
- The academic environment
- Work settings
- A new or unfamiliar environment
- A social setting in which new relationships are being formed
- A family setting with specific familial expectations
Over the years, people have tried various methods and techniques to combat imposter syndrome, including group therapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), self-esteem building and reframing.
As you might expect, each of these systems has something to offer.
With hypnosis for imposter syndrome, however, you get all the tools you’ll ever need to help your client beat it.
Hypnosis For Imposter Syndrome: 7 Hypnotic Tools To Help Your Subject Overcome the Condition
There are lots of hypnosis tools available to help someone deal with imposter syndrome. Here is a list of 7 tools with brief explanations about how they might be used:
The Blitz lets you elicit information from your client and then feed it back to them in a positive way. It’s like a hypnotic pep talk. During the blitz you ask lots of questions and use the echo technique.
It’s also a good time to feed your client with hero fuel to rebuild their confidence, highlight their good points and reaffirm their accomplishments and successes.
2. Mind Bending Language (MBL)
MBL focuses mainly on ideas and beliefs as a symbol of reality. Unlike DMI below, Mind Bending Language focuses on the problem rather than the solution.
When a client’s limiting belief is holding them back, you can use MBL to get them to think hard about their belief, helping them find the cracks and flaws in their thinking.
3. Non-Awareness Set
Use this tool to instill confidence in the client that their unconscious mind can do things outside of their awareness, and that their unconscious mind always has their best interests at heart.
The Non-Awareness Set focuses on physical experiences, sensations and movement as physical symbols, unlike the DMI which deals with visual symbols in the traditional sense.
4. Dynamic Mental Imagery (DMI)
DMI uses a symbol that focuses on the solution, not the problem. The symbol can be a sanctuary or something similar that gives hope and a positive emotional experience.
Then you need to orient the client to something unusual and unexpected. This helps show them the power of the unconscious to help make changes and alter their reality.
This tool involves two conflicting parts or ideas coming together to help your client achieve their goal. Each of the parts will have a symbol and each symbol represents a value.
An example would be someone who wants to exercise on the one hand but likes to laze on the sofa on the other. Bringing those two values together will help your client resolve their conflicting ideas or feelings.
This tool transports your client back to a time in the past when they had the resources to deal with their problem. It lets them identify these resources and carry them forward.
They do that by remembering an experience vividly, including the emotion they felt at the time, and trying to feel it again in the present.
This is a tool that can be used to change memories. They don’t have to be real memories as long as they symbolize something. Any event that symbolizes the problem will work.
A regression is like a very intense revivification. To do it successfully, you need to change how your client relates to the memory, which should be in a benign and positive way.
It’s important to note that these tools are not listed in any particular order. You can use any or all of the tools at the same time: it’s not necessary to use them separately.
For example, a regression is basically a revivification with a DMI attached. It’s also possible to use a blitz as part of any other technique.
In fact, it doesn’t matter which tool or tools you use. What matters is that you use the tool(s) you feel comfortable with and believe will be of most benefit to your client.
Conclusion And Key Takeaways
To recap, imposter syndrome refers to the feeling of being uncomfortable with your own success. It’s based on anxiety rather than on objective facts.
As well as anxiety, someone suffering from imposter syndrome might also experience other symptoms such as:
- Lack of confidence
- Negative self-talk
- Feeling inadequate
- Sabotaging their own success
The syndrome affects people in different ways, according to 5 different personality types:
1. The Perfectionist
2. The Expert
3. The Natural Genius
4. The Soloist
5. The Superman / Superwoman
One effective way to combat the syndrome is with hypnosis, for which there are at least 7 potential tools available, including:
- Mind Bending Language (MBL)
- Non-Awareness Set
- Dynamic Mental Imagery (DMI)
According to Time, it’s estimated that as many as 70% of people experience imposter syndrome feelings at some point.
And that makes sense. It’s normal to have doubts, to second-guess yourself on occasion.
That’s part of what makes you work harder to improve yourself. But as Valerie Young puts it, it’s okay to have imposter moments, but not to have an imposter life.
And that’s where hypnosis for imposter syndrome can help. It’ll give your clients the tools and insight they need to regain their confidence and recognize their achievements for what they really are.