Imposter Syndrome - Tara Halliday

Last Updated: 

October 13, 2022

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Dr Tara Halliday specialises in resolving imposter syndrome. She runs an 8-week programme for executives to eliminate imposter syndrome for good, and a 12-week programme for coaches so they can do the same with their clients.

Her book ‘Unmasking' was an Amazon #1 Bestseller in 2018.

She has a PhD in Engineering, has built and sold her own business, working in a startup that went public and an old-school corporate company too.

What we will be discussing today

  • Imposter syndrome
  • Leadership and entrepreneurship
  • Neuroscience and high performance
  • Stress responses and mental well-being
  • Bullying in the workplace
  • Diversity

Listen to the Full Episode

Imposter Syndrome

As part of the 100th episode special, Robin Waite welcomes holistic therapist, coach and best-selling author Dr Tara Halliday, to The Fearless Business Podcast. She joins Robin today to share her research advice on recognising and combatting Imposter Syndrome.

Defining Imposter Syndrome and Neuroscience

So, what is Imposter Syndrome? And where does Neuroscience come into play?

According to Tara, Imposter Syndrome is the feeling of being a fraud when you’re not. It’s the fear of being “exposed” when in reality, 70% of high achievers are affected by it at some point. It’s a common condition that has only recently been spoken about freely because of the stigma.Neuroscience is the science of the brain; it helps us identify the minds inner workings so we can understand it and make more positive and productive changes. As a coach, Taraincorporates her Neuroscience research to help her clients combat and overcome Imposter Syndrome.

So why is there a stigma surrounding it?

Tara has found that this is down to the personal nature of Imposter Syndrome. More often than not, many entrepreneurs categorise Imposter Syndrome as an inner character flaw or weakness, when in actuality, it’s not a weakness at all. Instead, it’s all stemmed from a deep insecurity that your brain has convinced you that is reality.

Signs of Imposter Syndrome

Tara groups the most common signs of Imposter Syndrome into two sub-categories - red and blue.

Red Signs - procrastinating, deflecting praise, avoiding new opportunities, hiding, lying and secrecy.

Blue Signs - comparing, perfectionism, not having enough and pushing through.

The difference between the two categories is that red symbolises what you fear other people might find out. Blue represents your comparisons to other people and the high standard you hold yourself against. For example, “not having enough” could mean you avoid certain situations because you don’t feel like you are as qualified as other people are to have an opinion. “Procrastination”, again, is another form of avoidance, but instead of completing a task that you have been struggling with, you put it off, so you don’t go and seek help and appear weak to other team members.

Triggers and Common Causes of Imposter Syndrome

As touched upon previously, Imposter Syndrome stems from your inner and, sometimes, subconscious insecurities. The most common causes for Imposter Syndrome are:

  • Workplace Environment - toxic work culture and bullying.
  • Upbringing - values that are installed during childhood.
  • Mental Health Diagnoses - OCD, Anxiety and Depression.
  • High Achievement - pressures and expectations to be the best because of previous successes.
  • Being Overly Praised - You received frequent praise during your formative years, which are now not reciprocated as an adult.

Ultimately, Imposter Syndrome has nothing to do with low self-esteem; in fact, most of Tara’s clients can list a considerable amount of personal wins from the drop of a hat. It’s not a low self-confidence issue either; it’s fundamentally a mindset issue.

How To Deal With Imposter Syndrome

To combat imposter syndrome, Tara recommends two methods. The first is through managing it and learning how to calm the central nervous system. This is achieved through identifying what is causing the Imposter Syndrome, using the triggers above and learning how to let go of them.

For example, a colleague could tell you that you aren’t good at your job. You then receive feedback from a client that they weren’t happy with the results you gave them. Quite naturally, this feeds into your colleague’s criticisms as you now have evidence backing up their claims. This then manifests itself into your own mindset as you believe their opinions. You may not have considered that the colleague may have been projecting their own insecurities onto you in the first place. The negative feedback you had gained was a rarity compared to the many happy clients you have previously served. This is why the letting go process is so essential; Tara believes that by peeling back the layers and observing the situation at hand, you can discover the underlying belief that was once feeding into your insecurities and then reject it.

This then leads to Tara’s second method for combatting Imposter Syndrome, self-acceptance. Tara defines self-acceptance as the belief that you can cope with anything that is thrown your way and that you are fearless. It is not the belief that you are better than everyone else as that, ironically, is also a form of Imposter Syndrome itself. Instead, it’s about accepting that whilst others may have a different opinion, or if your environment suggests otherwise, you aren’t affected by it.


Imposter Syndrome Quiz

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