How reframing your anxiety this way can help conquer impostor syndrome

How reframing your anxiety this way can help conquer impostor syndrome

via Fast Company by Kris Kelso

For many of us, our natural instinct when feeling anxious is to try to escape  the feeling entirely. We use relaxation techniques, such as deep breathing exercises, in an attempt to calm down and recenter. However, when our bodies are in a heightened state, simply trying to return to ‘normal’ can be difficult, if not futile.

Turning anxiety into excitement might sound impossible, but it’s not.. ‘Anxiety reappraisal’ is a technique that acknowledges the elevated state you’re in and reframes the sensation, rather than suppressing it. In its simplest form, it’s telling yourself, “I’m not anxious, I’m just excited.”

Studies have shown that this reappraisal technique is a more effective way to regulate anxiety than suppression strategies—which are consistently reported as counterproductive. That’s why, when you begin to feel anxious, it can be helpful to actively turn that anxiety into excitement and use it as a tool to conquer impostor syndrome.


In an online questionnaire done as part of a Journal of Experimental Psychology study by Dr. Alison Wood Brooks, 85% of participants reported “try to relax or calm down” as their number one piece of advice for someone experiencing anxiety. 

The “Keep Calm and Carry On” slogan, initially part of a World War II public safety campaign, reemerged in the 2000’s across t-shirts, posters, and more, and exacerbated our instinct to try to relax when faced with anxiety. But anxiety is the result of an aroused nervous system, and it isn’t easy to suddenly switch from a state of arousal to one of calmness.

Before you can begin reframing anxiety as excitement, the first step is to accept the anxious state you’re experiencing and fight that instinct to seek out relaxation. The same can be said for impostor syndrome as well. We have a tendency to ‘fight’ impostor syndrome (to avoid the situations where we feel inadequate), when—in reality—the first step should be acknowledging that impostor syndrome isn’t actually a bad thing.

Think about it this way: If you’re feeling impostor syndrome, chances are you’re stepping outside of your comfort zone. Studies have shown that stepping outside of your comfort zone isn’t just helpful for learning, it’s imperative. So instead of viewing impostor syndrome as a negative thing—a sign that you’re out of your depth or destined to be “found out”—start by reframing that feeling as a positive: a sign of an opportunity to learn…

… keep reading the full & original article HERE