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The Paralysis Of Imposter Syndrome And 6 Tips To Help You Move Forward

Written by: Victor Mosconi, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.


Here you are, ready to work on the next task or project, but then you pause, and you start reviewing everything that needs to be completed for it. Thinking about the various groups it’s connected to, and the number of people that will see it, use it, and be impacted by it.

You’re uncertain of what steps to take or which you feel is “correct” or what others would feel is correct. You begin to wonder if you know what actions to take and the right moves to make. Your anxiety increases and your thoughts begin to race and your breath shortens, and all of a sudden you become paralyzed in regards to starting this project.

The Experience

Why? It’s just a project like any other. But not to you. To you, it’s much bigger and more demanding. You think this project is for someone with more experience and knowledge, someone who is more skilled and is of a higher position.

The weight of this project induces this feeling of fear. Fear so strong that you freeze. You can’t do anything on this project. You can’t decide, can’t move.

Just the mere thought of any aspect of this project creates this intense feeling of paralysis. It may only be related to this one project. Or it may begin to seep into other areas of your work life and other tasks.

Why does this happen? How do you go from being capable, knowledgeable, and confident one moment to completely frozen and unable to do anything related to that project next?

Paralysis due to imposter syndrome can be a very common characteristic and effect. Paralysis is the inability to move or function; the total stoppage or severe impairment of activity.

Imposter syndrome, also known as, the impostor phenomenon, is the inability to recognize internalized successes and achievements. It’s the constant fear of being a fraud for not being good enough and needing to seek out acceptance from external sources that will never fulfill that need. A low or lack of self-belief.

In the medical field, paralysis is often related to physical body movement, yet in regards to imposter syndrome, it can be related to physical movement and mental processing.

Why Does This Happen?

When you are experiencing imposter syndrome, you doubt your own abilities. You see yourself as a fraud, not being good enough, but hoping your achievements will make you acceptable and you’ll receive approval from others.

When starting a project, due to your imposter experience, you become overloaded with negative thoughts and emotions that swirl in your mind. These thoughts are from the expectations, bias, and comparisons that others have thrust on you over time.

These negative thoughts become related to who you are and what you are capable of or the perception of what you are not capable of accomplishing.

You are concerned about how other people would do the project and worry of how they could do it better. Your belief is that you’re not good enough, so why even try?

You create a negative perception of yourself due to their influence, words, and behaviors toward you. A negative perception where you doubt yourself and your abilities.

When faced with a new project, or big project, your imposter thoughts grow and remind you of your past mistakes, and the words of others. You see this negativity as reality. This negativity creates a mental block not just of what steps to take, but in clarity of acknowledging who you are.

Imposter syndrome on its own will create self-doubt, lower self-worth, and a lack of confidence in your own capabilities among other characteristics. This will lead to overthinking about whether you can succeed in your accomplishments. You also wonder if you’re worthy of this project, or the right person for the job in accomplishing the project.

The project then gets bigger in your mind. You see all the various steps at the same time, and possible outcomes and perceived feedback, which based on your spiral thinking, none of it is good.

All of this gets wrapped in the fear of failure.

Your low self-belief in being successful, in who you are and in your perceived lack of abilities grows, and you just freeze up. Unable to decide. Unable to take a step forward. Unable to even tell someone.

The result is being paralyzed with fear due to your imposter thoughts. You are paralyzed in body and mind.

6 Tips to Help You Move Forward

You do not need to stay this way. You can learn to break free of the paralysis by following these tips:

  1. Acknowledge you are experiencing this feeling of being paralyzed in your actions and thoughts. Recognize you aren’t able to move forward or act. Don’t dismiss this feeling.

  2. Ask yourself, what is the task or situation you are currently experiencing this paralyzed feeling in? It may seem like a given, but in the beginning, with your thoughts swirling, you may not be able to clearly recognize why this is occurring or where this paralysis stems from.

  3. Reflect on the skills, knowledge, abilities, and resources you have for this project. Think about what you can do and do well. Do not compare to anyone else, and do not discount any knowledge, or ability. Write down everything that is related to this project that you know you can do.

  4. Remember similar tasks, projects, or situations of your past, and your successful outcomes. Do not downplay any aspect, such as “Yes, but they could have been better”, or “But I just got lucky.” This will strengthen your imposter thoughts and paralysis. Focus only on your achievements and success and link your skills and abilities to them.

  5. Determine your next 3 steps to start moving forward. Write them down, so you can see and acknowledge what those next steps will be. Once you get to the third, then write the next 3 steps. Keeping yourself to a few steps will reduce the fear and help you see with clarity what is manageable in this project.

  6. Be good at doing it how you want to. If it doesn’t work, adjust. There is no one way for each project, and you will develop what works best for you. Don’t worry or care what others are doing. Just focus on what you are doing.

The main goal is to grow belief in yourself.

Moving Forward

These 6 tips can help you break free of the paralysis brought on by your imposter thoughts.

Your imposter thoughts are about your inabilities and lack of self-value. As your mind goes to the thoughts of the project, it will create a false narrative based on your imposter fears and doubts that you see as true.

Your fear of failure will create a wall of paralysis.

Refocusing on your true self-worth and abilities will increase your self-appreciation and self-belief. Believing in yourself will reduce your imposter thoughts and help you break free of your paralysis and get you moving forward.

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Victor Mosconi, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Victor Mosconi, is a Ph.D. Candidate in Psychology, with a Master’s in Psychology of Leadership Development and Coaching, a Master’s in Industrial/Organizational Psychology, and the founder of Imposter Solution Coach. Through his life-long experience with imposter syndrome, his psychology background, and coaching skills, Victor specializes in supporting up-and-coming women leaders and entrepreneurs in overcoming their self-doubt and imposter thoughts to develop a mindset of self-appreciation and strong self-belief. Take his quiz on his website and discover what level of impostor syndrome you experience.



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