Going into a new field of practice can be challenging for most people. It could create a feeling of fear and constant rumination of self-doubts.
That was my fate when I decided to become a life coach and a business consultant. Although I had different certifications, and a master’s degree to back my decision, my insecurity and self-doubt kept on growing stronger as the day went by. I doubted my ability to provide solutions to my clients, and in most cases, I was scared of telling people I was a coach. But with the help of a mentor and investing in lots of books and seminars, I was able to break away from my mental self-torments, and what psychologists call imposter syndrome.
Imposter syndrome is a problem most professionals face in their early careers, and it can be quite debilitating if not properly managed. Studies show that about 70% of people get to experience the feeling of imposter syndrome at some point in their life. While it might look like it’s only people who are starting off in a career that suffer from imposter syndrome, a study also shows that C.E.O’s and top management executives also suffer from imposter syndrome.
What is Imposter syndrome?
Imposter syndrome is a psychological condition in which an individual question their abilities and achievement. They also attribute their accomplishments to luck and not because of their hard work.
This condition is characterized by constant doubts, and fear of being discovered as a fraud or not smart enough. The constant rumination about one’s ability can affect how effectively an individual interacts with other people and their environment. It creates low self-esteem and a lack of self-confidence.
What are the Possible Effects of Imposter Syndrome?
The effects of constant self-doubt and imposter syndrome are:
- Lack of self-confidence
- Low self-esteem.
- Lack of motivation
- Fear of rejection.
- Fear of taking on challenges or risks.
- The need for external validation.
- An excessive compulsion to be perfect or to please others.
How Can We Deal with the Feeling of Imposter Syndrome and Self-Doubts?
1. Acceptance and Self-Awareness
The first step towards dealing with self-doubts and the feeling of imposter syndrome is acceptance and self-awareness. The reason why most people struggle with doubts is that they haven’t accepted themselves for who they are. They haven’t acknowledged their fears and doubts. Denial is the main reason why people find it hard to seek out a solution to their problem. This could be due to fear of stigmatization or not seen as smart or intelligent enough.
Become aware of how you feel about yourself, and the way you react to a different situation. This process ensures that you identify the cues or triggers that bring about self-doubts. When you identify the cues, you can then work out ways to eliminate them.
This technique is like shining light into darkness.
2. Avoid Unhealthy Comparisons
There’s a famous saying that “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
Unhealthy comparison is one of the major causes of self-doubts and imposter syndrome. Early on in my career as a coach, I constantly compared myself with other people whom I thought were more successful. This comparison led to insecurity and fear of taking a risk.
It is advisable that everyone understands how unique they are. Believe in yourself and in your abilities, and never compare yourself with others. If you feel you’re lacking in any particular skillset, simply engage in personal development. Don’t beat yourself up over silly things.
Remember no one is perfect and no one will ever be. Embrace your true self and flaunt it.
3. Challenge all Negative Self-Talk
“A major factor in determining how our lives turn out is the way we choose to think. Everything that goes on inside the human mind in the form of thoughts, ideas, and information forms our personal philosophy.” ~ Jim Rohn
Negative self-talk is one of the factors that breed self-doubt, low self-esteem, and the feeling of imposter syndrome. It also leads to anxiety, sadness, and depression. Negative self-talk such as “I’m not good enough”, “I’m not worthy”, “I’m not smart enough”, or “how can I be so stupid to have made such kind of mistake” are some of the negative self-talk we engage in. They don’t only destroy our self-esteem; they also impact negatively on all areas of our life.
To deal with self-doubts, and the feeling of imposter syndrome, you must challenge all negative self-talk and replace them with positive affirmations. And praise yourself constantly for all your achievements both small and large.
4. Seek Out Help
The best way to deal with self-doubts or the feeling of imposter syndrome is to share your feelings with someone you trust and respect. It could be a friend, family member, coach or mentor.
The most important thing is to get help and not to bottle it up. Living in denial is a sign of not wanting to take full responsibility for your life, and it would only lead to fear and insecurity.
It is also advisable to seek out forums and groups with related problems. Engage and share your feelings. As they say, two good heads are better than one.