It was this past Friday and Luke Chao, the founder of the Morpheus Clinic for Hypnosis, was having a conversation with me. As the newest member of the Morpheus team, and also as an intern therapist, I have an interest in learning about ‘all things hypnotherapy’ so I have been jumping on any opportunity to converse more deeply on the subject. He mentioned a phenomenon called “Imposter Syndrome.” Imposter syndrome? The Imposter Syndrome! That’s me I thought. Did one of my clients call to report me? How did Luke Chao know that I am secretly impersonating a psychotherapist?
What is this Imposter Syndrome you ask?
According to the Wikipedia powers that be:
“Imposter Syndrome, also known as Impostor Phenomenon or Fraud Syndrome, is a term coined in 1978 by clinical psychologists Dr. Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes referring to high-achieving individuals marked by an inability to internalize their accomplishments and a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud”.”
I realized in that moment of conversation with one Toronto’s top hypnotherapists that I have a deep fear. A fear of being a fraud.
I am someone who takes pride in my own mental health. I am in a position of helping others clear their own minds so I always believe in “i got this” when it comes to my emotional life.
Yet, this is not true, as hard as it is for me to admit it, the facts are clear: I suffer from Imposter Syndrome.
After a decade higher education, I suffer from an inability to recognize my own intelligence and worth. I often feel, as I sit in a room with clients in front of me, that at any moment they will jump up yelling “Fraud! Imposter! You are not a real therapist. You act nothing like you should. Who gave you the right to help others mentally? You are nothing but an Imposter!”
I haven’t heard that yet, but I am waiting with an assurance that it will happen.
Nobel laureate Maya Angelou once said:
“I have written eleven books, but each time I think, ‘uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.”
Even Maya had it. Even the great Maya Angelou felt like an imposter in the literary world, a world she dominated.
Why do we do it? All of us. Professionals, executives, business owners, doctors, lawyers, graduate students, all of us that have spent the majority of our lives in an institute of higher learning, why o’ why when we get released into the ‘real world’ does the intensity of feeling like an imposter multiply? It seems to be always present when we are studying but the affect certainly escalates when we enter into a workplace of similar intellectual minds. If only we could find a way to leave it behind.
I would love to finally not to feel like a fraud.
I asked: “Can this be treated via hypnosis?” It most certainly can. Luke had some time to spare, and so did I. With a full intention of the outcome being healing, I decided to undergo a short hypnosis session. If this can cure me, meaning, if I can possibly learn to acknowledge that a decade of education does not build an imposter but in fact builds a professional who belongs, it would only propel me into further success and further acceptance of this success. Could this treatment finally help me belong to me? Belong to my own mind, my own success and my own education? Will I finally own my own self and not be an impostor?
I was nervous, but relaxed quite easily. Person after person was brought before my mind. Friends, family, professors who have held me up with their words. I felt their encouragement and belief in me, and I could finally take it on as my own. My mini-session was filled with emotions and I realized that I was looking at the core of my problem. I did not view myself as others view me. I did not hold myself up as others hold me, and I certainly did not feel about myself the way my clients feel about me. A vulnerability and acceptance of self was needed. A full acceptance of self. These are the moments when we actually have to place ourselves in ‘the Others’ shoes. Where we can absorb and acknowledge the words and praise of those that hold us up when we beat ourselves down. It is possible and can only increase our own worth, confidence and abilities within ourselves.
People treat themselves a lot worse in their own minds than what reality actually dictates.
The way this hypnotic process works is by making you take on the eyes of others. In reality we are doing this to ourselves. Via hypnotherapy I could take on someone else’s viewpoint of me which made the absorption of reality so much easier.
Hypnotherapy teaches how to absorb and then give yourself positive feedback. When afflicted by Impostor Syndrome, you are the only person in your life that thinks you are a fraud. This is a situation where reality is on your side, where all the facts add up. This is where hypnotherapy can finally release you from being the ‘odd one out’ and you can join all the other people who know you are in fact the person your credentials say that you are.
We all, as professionals have something to give. Perhaps if we can clear a path to who we truly are we will have that much more to offer. We can own our own successes, virtues and intelligence.
Luke helped me achieve a peace within that was always there yet was buried with self doubt. We can own ourselves and everything we have to offer.