Are you stuck in the Imposter Cycle?

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I remember the day I first experienced severe imposter syndrome vividly.  It was the first time that I was delivering a training course.  As I stood in front of the group I could feel my heart beating frantically in my chest, my mouth was dry, and a voice in my head repeated these words over and over.

“why would they listen to you, you know nothing, they are going to find out that you have no idea what you are talking about.”

I remember physically shaking my head to get rid of those words.  I’m now 13 years on from that point and there are still some days, usually when I am under extreme stress or ill, that I hear those same words.  Luckily now I have the strategies to be able to deal with it!

The term Imposter syndrome was introduced by Dr. Pauline R. Clance and Dr. Suzanne A. Imes and is defined as a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their skills and accomplishments and has an internalised fear of being found out.  It was first discovered in studies with women, but we now know that it can affect both men and women equally.

Do you often reject positive feedback on the basis that they are only saying that because they like you? Or perhaps you argue that it was a fluke, that you just got lucky? Do you have a fear that one-day people are going to find out that you don’t know what you are talking about?  If you answered yes to these things then I would suggest that you suffer from imposter syndrome.

Some strategies will help you manage your imposter syndrome, but before you engage in these it is important to understand the foundations of why you are experiencing this, especially if you are stuck in the imposter cycle.

The imposter cycle was defined by Clance, and it usually begins with an achievement-related task.  For example, this could have been an assignment at school, or perhaps a project at work.  Once you have received this task, then self-doubt, worry, and an element of stress sets in.  The cycle allows for two responses to these feelings.  These are over-preparation or procrastination.

If you respond with procrastination, this will mean that you end up completing the task last minute and having a frantic rush to get it done in time.  If you get successful feedback and a positive outcome you will most likely put that down to luck.

If you respond with over-preparation and you succeed, you will tell yourself that this success is solely down to your hard work.  Both of the responses in the imposter cycle do not require personal ability.  Essentially anyone can work hard or get lucky, this is not down to your skill.

Therefore you are likely to reject any positive feedback due to this belief.  From this the cycle continues, this outcome only reinforces the imposter feeling, as you do not believe you have the skill so have to continue to overprepare or rely on luck.  Believing that at any point you might be found out, keeps this cycle in motion.

If you are stuck in this cycle we want you to break out and feel free.  To help you in this struggle, we have put together a course designed to give you actionable steps to end the cycle.  Using our 5 step model, we help individuals who are struggling with a fear of being found out, believing that their achievements are based solely on luck, to step into their power and become the most effective and confident version of themselves.  Sign up here for our Imposter Syndrome course.

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Level 3 Diamond Timetable

Exam Series Module No. of sessions Dates
March 2024
M2 & M3
6
15th Jan, 29th Jan, 5th Feb, 19th Feb, 26th Feb, 4th Mar
May 2024
M4
3
15th Apr, 22nd Apr, 29th Apr
July 2024
M5
3
3rd June, 10th June, 24th June
Nov 2024
M1
3
7th Oct, 21st Oct, 4th November
Mar 2025
M2&M3
6
13th Jan, 20th Jan, 27th Jan, 10th Feb, 24th Feb, 3rd March
May 2025
M4
3
7th Apr, 14th Apr, 28th Apr
July 2025
M5
3
2nd June, 16th June, 30th June

Level 6 Diamond Timetable

Exam Series Module No. of sessions Dates
March 2024
M2 & M5
5
25th Jan, 1st Feb, 8th Feb, 22nd Feb, 29th Feb
May 2024
M4 & M7
4
18th April, 25th April, 2nd May, 9th May
July 2024
M3 & M8
5
30th May, 20th June, 27th June, 4th July, 11th July
November 2024
M1
3
10th Oct, 24th Oct, 7th Nov
Mar 2025
M2 & M5
5
30th Jan, 6th Feb, 13th Feb, 27th Feb, 6th Mar
May 2025
M4 & M7
4
3rd April, 10th April, 1st May, 8th May
July 2025
M3 & M8
5
5th June, 12th June, 19th June, 26th June, 3rd July

Level 5 Diamond Timetable

Exam Series Module No. of sessions Dates
March 2024
M5, M15 & M9
4
31st Jan, 7th Feb, 21st Feb, 28th Feb, 6th March
May 2024
M3 & M8
4
10th April, 17th April, 24th April, 1st May
July 2024
M4
3
5th June, 11th June, 26th June
November 2024
M1 & M2
5
9th Oct, 16th Oct, 23rd Oct, 30th Oct, 6th Nov
Mar 2025
M15, M5, M9
5
29th Jan, 5th Feb, 12th Feb, 26th Feb, 5th March
May 2025
M3 & M8
4
9th April, 16th April, 30th April, 7th June
July 2025
M4
3
4th June, 18th June, 2nd July

Level 4 Diamond Timetable

Exam Series Module No. of sessions Dates
March 2024
M3, M5, M7
6
23rd Jan, 30th Jan, 6th Feb, 20th Feb, 27th Feb, 5th March
May 2024
M4 & M6
4
9th April, 16th April, 23rd April, 30th April
July 2024
M8
3
4th June, 18th June, 3rd July
November 2024
M1 & M2
5
8th Oct, 15th Oct, 22nd Oct, 29th Oct, 5th Nov
March 2025
M3, M5, M7
5
29th Jan, 5th Feb, 12th Feb, 26th Feb, 5th March
May 2025
M4 & M6
4
8th April, 15th April, 29th April, 6th June
July 2025
M8
3
10th June, 24th June, 8th July