Got promoted? Started a new business? Appointed to head a team? Became the lead for a new project? Don’t feel like you deserve any of it?
If you can’t digest the success you get and are often plagued by the thought of being exposed as a fraud then like many others in the world you’re being haunted by Impostor Syndrome
You’re facing a monster that feeds on your deepest, most unsafe insecurities and goes by the name of Impostor Syndrome. This monster makes you believe that you’re unworthy of the success you get and reminds you of your incompetence.
The term impostor syndrome was coined in 1978 by clinical psychologists Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes. It can be best described as a feeling of phoniness in people who believe that they are not intelligent, capable or creative despite evidence of high achievement.
Impostor syndrome convinces you that your successes are a result of luck, timing or factors beyond your control instead of your own talent and skill. Ironically the more successful you become the more likely you are to encounter impostor syndrome.
While it isn’t considered as a psychological disorder it does pose a threat to mental health because it is a form of intellectual self-doubt. It can lead to anxiety, stress and, depression and it is found that 70% of people will experience this phenomenon once in their life.
It was believed that only women faced this issue but now it’s pretty clear that this isn’t a gendered experience and men can also experience impostor syndrome (We’re just stubborn not to admit it).
If you reading this chances are you’ve encountered Impostor syndrome at some point in your career. I have some good and bad news. The bad news is you will never fully get rid of impostor syndrome, the good news is you can easily manage, overcome, and rise above it.
The easiest and most effective way to overcome impostor syndrome is to stop it in its tracks. When you get disruptive thoughts and feelings immediately identify the cause of those feelings instead of doubting your own capabilities. If you’re having a hard time making a mental note of all those pestering thoughts then write them down. Once you start recognizing the ‘impostor’ within those thoughts you won’t be so harsh towards your own achievements. Just saying that it’s impostor syndrome makes it less severe.
Perfectionism fuels Impostor syndrome. The both tend to go hand in hand. Realize that perfection is an illusion and no matter what you or anybody else does will never be perfect. Instead of aiming for perfection aim to get the job done and that means giving your best. If you know that you’ve given your best then there is no need to hold onto the false standard of perfection. Remember we all make mistakes and we we all need help at some point. So don’t be afraid to make mistakes and ask for help when you need it.
Comparison is the root cause of unhappiness.
We would achieve and do so much more if we only stopped comparing ourselves to others. When you compare yourself to others you are bringing a biased and prejudice approach in the picture. Everybody has problems and each person you meet is struggling with something. If you don’t see other person’s problem it isn’t right to compare their success with yours. When you compare your life with others you’re underestimating your own unique talents. You have your own life to live and only that should be your priority. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter whatever makes you compare yourself to others must go. Learn to cherish and respect your own achievements. You’re not fake, you’re YOU.
If you don’t make a note of your achievements then start now. You might not be good at everything but you certainly are great at many things. Make a list of all your strengths and another one of all your weaknesses. Look at both the lists and see where you need to work. This would serve both as a motivation and as an acknowledgment to do better. Start acknowledging your own successes no matter how small they are. Reflect upon all the hard work you put to get where you are and realize that you are the reason for the success you’ve got.
What is being authentic? You are certainly not going to address your mother the way you address your boss. Impostor syndrome asks you to be your authentic self when that possibility doesn’t exist.
Different situations require different interactions and that means you’re never going to act the same way around two different people. You’re not being inauthentic you’re adjusting to the situation you’re in and that is as authentic as you would ever get.
See credentials for what they are. ‘PhD’ doesn’t mean someone has achieved more than you in life, it only means they spent way much more time in school than you did(and probably know a lot more than you on a uselessly specific topic) but they definitely don’t have the experiences or the skill set that you have. Degrees don’t define you they just show your academic progress.
Every time you feel uncertain about something and are still pondering over it remember nobody knows what they’re doing. How does a startup become a successful venture? How does one become famous?
The success stories you hear is a result of all the brave people struggling, failing and succeeding every once in a while. None of us know what’s next to come; some take cover when faced with an obstacle others, however, muster the courage to face uncertainty. Being afraid doesn’t make you an impostor it gives you the opportunity to be brave.
The next time you encounter impostor syndrome remember that you’re constantly growing. You don’t need to feel bad about that. Your thoughts and opinions are constantly changing with new information you get (I really hope that’s the case). Each day you’re growing into a better version of your own self. You are trying to become better than you already are and that’s not a lie. That courage.
With practice and patience, you too can overcome impostor syndrome and learn to celebrate your own accomplishments. And you can help me get over impostor syndrome by clapping for this story.
Originally published at medium.com