The Real Truth About Impostor Syndrome and What Works to Cure It

Every article I’ve seen on Impostor Syndrome over the past few years has offered advice that, while well-meaning, just doesn’t work. It can’t work, because it’s missing a critical element.

The Current State of Women in Tech

Recently, Sheryl Sandberg was interviewed about the current state of women in tech. Massively connected in the tech world, she has a broad perspective on the current state of the environment. Her opinion?  

Four years after her book Lean In: Women, Work and the Will to Lead hit the bestseller list, working women are no better off. Her advice: “Lean harder!” Well, with all due respect to Ms Sandberg’s intentions, I think we all know how well that’s working. 

The Biggest Confidence Issue 

No wonder women in tech still identify Impostor Syndrome as their top priority when it comes to authentic confidence, a key factor in achieving success in this challenging, male-dominated field. 

While it’s fully acknowledged that engrained societal patterns regarding male dominance and sexism need to change before full gender equality can be more than a dream, it’s just as important for women to clear the deeply imprinted social, religious and family conditioning, their “inner glass ceilings” that they view the world through, if they are going to recognize and fully own their powerful feminine leadership capabilities. 

Outmoded Advice

The problem is that the advice we’ve received for years on how to clear these beliefs sounds good but doesn’t have a chance of being effective at the level that counts. Advice like being “aware” of the problem, understanding your strengths, or gathering external facts like concrete results and ROIs to bolster your sense of worth. 

Great ideas on the surface, but unfortunately operating from an outmoded understanding of how the brain works. 

Here’s the thing: using conscious effort to try and change how you feel and behave is like modifying an app’s user interface and expecting a data warehouse upgrade.

Who’s Really in Charge?

The conscious mind, e.g. left-brain thinking, is not where these issues live, nor is it in charge. Studies indicate that beliefs about who we are, what we can expect from the world, even what’s good or bad, or right or wrong, are stored by the age of six as human operating system programs deep in your subconscious. 

Operating automatically in the background, some research has also shown that they are responsible for 98% of your reactions and behavior. That’s not a typo. 

What’s Affected?

Reactions like hesitating to speak up in a meeting, not applying for a more challenging position unless you meet all of the qualifications, or undervaluing your contributions and attributing any success to luck. 

Have you ever found yourself over-analyzing your ideas, second-guessing your decisions, feeling responsible for the perception of all women in your field if you fail, or navigating the precarious tight-rope of likable vs aggressive?

These are just some of the behaviors generated by your subconscious belief programs. 

Why Resolutions Fail

The conscious mind, the one that thinks it’s in charge? It’s only managing the remaining 2%. 

So unless you’re addressing that sub-conscious hard drive packed with beliefs, a bathroom mirror full of Post-It affirmations and those enthusiastic New Year’s resolutions aren’t going to go very far.   

But there is hope.

Debugging Your Internal Operating System

Recent developments in neuroscience and bioenergetics have shown us not only how these beliefs are stored but ways to access and shift them to something that works for us. And you thought advanced tech was only about blockchain, AR and IOT!

One of the most effective is something I work with, called Energy Psychology (EP), a blend of ancient Eastern energy techniques and modern psychology methods. Working with an experienced guide, it’s possible to bring to light the source of your limiting beliefs and clear them, effectively debugging your internal operating system and optimizing your reactions. Simplified self-help versions of EP can instantly eliminate the stress reactions caused by day-to-day events and challenges, leaving you calmer, clearer and more focused. 

How to Debug?

Neurologically we sort for experiences that reinforce our original beliefs, creating a tug-of-war between our unconscious expectations and conscious desires. Because they’re operating beneath our conscious awareness, these beliefs create behavioral blinders in our daily life and can be difficult to recognize on our own.

Take Daniela (I've changed her name to protect her privacy): A frustrated IT Director at a major telecom company, she was shocked to find that her upbringing as a first-generation immigrant in a conservative Latin American family was the source of her hesitation to speak up in meetings as the only woman in the room, or to apply for the VP position she really wanted. 

Despite her qualifications—a Mechanical Engineering bachelor's degree and an MBA—her subconscious was saying it was never ok to “show up” men or appear smarter than the men around her. Who did she think she was? She’d never be more than a “housewife with a bunch of kids,” to quote her. She was astonished to find that these background beliefs totally at odds with her conscious desires were influencing her behavior so thoroughly. 


A Limitless Horizon

Once those hidden beliefs were identified and cleared, she found herself naturally speaking up in meetings, getting noticed by senior management and having a greater impact, all from a place of ease. She went on to apply for and win the VP position, and even received an offer for a higher level position from another tech firm, “out of the blue.” (Not unusual when you change your underlying energy around your confidence level!)

As Daniela realized, when you clear the influence of negative beliefs operating behind the scenes, your self-worth becomes the most obvious thing in the world, a “well, of course!” experience. “Faking it ’til you make it” becomes laughably absurd. 

Authentic confidence is the purity of action produced by a mind free from doubt. And the clarity that arises from knowing who you truly are makes internal barriers to forward momentum a distant memory. Recognizing opportunities and taking action from a connection to your core value creates a life of lightness, ease and the potential for phenomenal accomplishment and success. 

What do you want to create in your life? What’s in your way? 


Version 5

Holly Berkley, CEO of BlissSmart, is an author, speaker and consultant helping women in tech transform the“inner glass ceilings” of insecurity, doubt and fear into fully expressed feminine power, the foundation of a spiritually and materially fulfilling life. Get her Authentic Leadership Tips eBook at BlissSmart.com.