Imposter Syndrome – that sounds scary! Well, it is – kind of – if you have it. Not too mention, it really interferes with your peace. In case you aren’t familiar with the term, according to the Oxford dictionary, imposter syndrome is the persistent inability to believe that one’s success is deserved or has been legitimately achieved as a result of one’s own efforts or skills.
Still wondering? Ask yourself this question: Have you ever felt like you don’t belong, or everyone is going to find out that you don’t deserve your achievements? If you can answer yes to those feelings of chronic self-doubt, you’ve probably experienced imposter syndrome.
Who gets Imposter Syndrome?
You’re not alone – studies suggest 25% of high achievers experience imposter syndrome regularly. In fact 70% of all people experience imposter syndrome at some point in their career.
Overall, imposter syndrome stems from a high sense of self-doubt. You are recognized at being good at what you do – maybe even one of the best – but you don’t believe it yourself. Even when others are praising your work, you downplay your success and attribute it to luck or coincidence. This is a dangerous place to be, because people with imposter syndrome tend to put too much pressure on themselves, set higher standards, and get so involved in trying to prove themselves that they actually may end up affecting their personal performance.
If you think you may be experiencing imposter syndrome, ask yourself if you can relate to any of these patterns:
People call you a perfectionist
You may set high goals for yourself. Because your goal is perfection, the smallest mistakes may make you feel like a failure.
You don’t feel worthy
You downplay your success because you do not believe you deserve the success, or you believe you are just lucky.
You feel like a fake
Instead of celebrating your accomplishments, you worry that others will see “the truth” about your skills and abilities.
You are obsessively afraid of failure
Because of a fear of failure, you may set challenging goals and be disappointed when those goals fail. You might also take on limited tasks because you fear failure.
You try to handle everything yourself
You might have difficulty asking for help because you believe asking for help will show that you’re wrong or unqualified. You are afraid of what people will say if they think you don’t know all the answers.
How can you overcome imposter syndrome?
Experiencing imposter syndrome can limit your confidence to go after new opportunities because you feel that you are not worthy of success or just basically do not deserve it. You don’t have to feel that way – there are steps you can take to give yourself more credit and start overcoming those feelings of self-doubt.
Acknowledge your feelings
Recognize when you start feeling like an imposter. Instead of engaging with your thoughts of self-doubt, acknowledge that it is a normal response. Give yourself the grace to experience and acknowledge what you feel. Feelings are not good or bad – they are just feelings.
Why do you think you feel like you don’t belong? Is it due to a fear of failure? Do you believe that you don’t deserve success? Why or why not? This may be a good topic to journal on over a period of a few days. Start with your initial ideas and then review them each day, add where needed, and cross out what isn’t needed. By taking the time for your conscious and subconscious mind to process what is going on, you may surprise yourself at what comes up.
Face the facts
When you start feeling like a fraud, focus on positive facts. For example, maybe you were chosen for a job interview because of your qualifications. Make a list of why you are good at what you do – it isn’t just luck or coincidence. Review your list and accept that you are better than you are giving yourself credit to be.
Do your feelings serve you?
Ask yourself some hard questions: Does feeling like an imposter help or hinder you? Is that what you want to be? What kind of person do you truly want to be? Are you feeling this way to avoid feeling something else? What do you have to lose if you allow yourself to feel successful?
Change your thoughts
Turn those thoughts around – flip the negative thinking to positive thinking. Instead of telling yourself that you don’t deserve success, reframe your thoughts to give yourself more credit and enjoy the experience. Own your accomplishments instead of attributing them to “luck” or “help from others.” Instead of setting impossibly high standards, set realistic goals so you can enjoy the process. Remind yourself there will never be the “perfect time.” It’s more important to get started than to worry about what others think.
Realize mistakes happen to everyone
Instead of fearing failure, develop a healthy response to making mistakes. Accept that it’s normal to make mistakes and learn from each mistake instead.
Get some support
Having a safe space to receive support will help you reduce feelings of being an imposter. When you feel imperfect, make a mistake, or receive a compliment, your first instinct may be to hide. Instead, start reaching out to an encouraging mentor, coach, or colleague for support.
Allow yourself to feel successful
Say “thank you” when you receive a compliment. Practice being honest when you feel imperfect, embarrassed, or have made a mistake. Accept that it is okay to acknowledge and experience your feelings whether good or bad. Share and celebrate your achievements and successes.
Imposter syndrome can make you feel like you’re not good enough, you don’t belong, or you are undeserving. But it’s important to remind yourself that learning and making mistakes do not make you a fraud – it makes you human. No one is perfect their first time out. Learning from your mistakes and refusing to give up will only make you better. You’ve got this.
Find your purpose – find your joy!
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