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Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

....and trusting ourselves again

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Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels
Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

Do you ever feel like an imposter when it comes to your work or going after your goals? You are not alone. I used to feel like a fraud, and to be honest, sometimes I still do. We all do. 

Studies show that 70% of us experience imposter syndrome at some point in our lives.

Photo by Christina Morillo from Pexels

Perhaps you have recently landed a new job opportunity, are working on an important presentation, due to deliver a speech in front of other professionals, or maybe you are considering pursuing your passion without “the right qualification”…

Any of these situations can leave you with self-doubt. Too often, when we step out of our comfort zone, imposter syndrome creeps in. 

The good news is that it doesn’t have to be this way. There are many ways to push these feelings of self-doubt to the side, so you can carry on going after your goals.

This article will give you clarity on how imposter syndrome shows up and actionable steps to overcome it.

What is imposter syndrome, and why does it matter?

Imposter syndrome is a feeling of not being enough or not being fit for a specific job or task, sometimes even despite many previous successes. Many of those suffering from imposter syndrome will associate their success with luck rather than talent, hard work, and qualifications. 

It is essential to talk about imposter syndrome as it can often leave us “playing small” as it makes us question our abilities. When this happens, it can lead us to become less ambitious and prevents us from chasing our dreams and achieving our goals. 

How to recognize imposter syndrome?

Imposter syndrome will generally show up through one or more of the following signs, and commonly, those who battle Imposter Syndrome will also struggle with Perfectionism. 

  • Self-doubt
  • Undermining your success
  • Belittle your performance
  • Unable to appreciate and accept your competence and skills
  • Assigning your success to external factors
  • Fear that you won’t live up to expectations
  • Exhibiting Perfectionist Tendencies
  • Fearing judgment 

How to overcome imposter syndrome?

Overcoming imposter syndrome is a continuous process, and you need to continuously create a mindset of trusting yourself and your abilities and recognizing your skills and accomplishments. 

Step 1- Acknowledge and accept the feeling

One of the first steps to overcoming impostor feelings is acknowledging the thoughts and putting them into perspective. 

When feelings of self-doubt arise, take a moment to stop, take a deep breath and say: “Ok, right now, I am feeling like an imposter, and that’s normal.”

Try observing your thoughts rather than engaging with or reacting to them, can be helpful. 

The aim here is to understand what you’re feeling and why which will help you start overcoming imposter syndrome.

Most of the time, when we pin a name to these feelings, it immediately becomes a little less terrible and easier to manage. 

Step 2 – Listen to your narrative and make a list 

One of the best ways to overcome imposter syndrome is to track and evaluate when self-doubt feelings arise. 

By keeping tabs in a journal or a dedicated word doc., you can start to notice patterns of when the feelings come up, what emotions they bring, and the thoughts that begin to circle in your head. 

What are the situations when the imposter creeps-in? What are the stories that you are telling yourself? Are they real? 

Ask yourself: Is it when preparing for a presentation, when taking on new responsibilities, or when asked to speak in front of senior management? 

Start by keeping a journal. Whenever you experience feelings of self-doubt or inadequacy, write them down, and explain why you’re feeling this way. Be as specific as possible about each situation. 

What proof do you have? More often than not, our fear is just False Evidence that Appears Real. The chances are that when you write it out, you’ll see that you shouldn’t worry about the situation, that you’ve had similar responsibilities, been involved in similar tasks previously, and we start overcoming the imposter syndrome. 

Step 3 – Track your Success and Skills

Too often, when we talk about our successes, especially around our careers or business, we tend to put them down to “luck”, “hard work”, or “help from others”, rather than owning them. You’ll be surprised that we can feel we are not good at things that are our strengths.

Start to build a list where you can keep a note of your skills and achievements. We often remember our mistakes and don’t take time to recognize our accomplishments and strengths. 

Once you have a deeper understanding of your strengths and weaknesses, you won’t have to spend so much time worrying that you’re not qualified for specific tasks, projects, or roles.

When you start to feel self-doubt rise, refer back to your list to remind yourself of what you have achieved in the past. Practice saying these words out loud: “I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished.” 

Another tip is to incorporate your list in your life in the form of daily affirmations. You can use either journal about them or have them as Post-IT notes around your house or office. Reminders such as: “I am successful at building impactful presentations”, “I am great at managing team towards top performance”, “I am confident in my skills … and abilities.” 

Creating and maintaining a list is just one small thing you can start doing today to help you overcome imposter syndrome. 

Step 4 – Get Help

Most of our actions are subconscious. 95% of what we do is rooted in our mental conditioning, habits, emotions, beliefs, values, and memories shaped based on our upbringing and past experiences. 

We often ponder in the same beliefs circles and habits unless we can see a different perspective; hence, it’s essential to have someone to speak with about these matters. 

If you struggle to conquer self-doubt yourself, try speaking with a colleague, coach, or friend you can trust, as they will often help you see a different perspective.

You may soon realize that they, too, have experienced the pitfalls of imposter syndrome and can share some guidance with you. Knowing that this thing has happened to someone you trust can help relieve some pressure from your thoughts, as you realize it is not just you who is suffering from self-doubt. 

People who have more experience can reassure you that what you’re feeling is normal, and knowing others have been in your position can make it seem less scary. 

The four steps that you can take either together or separately to overcome imposter syndrome are:  

  • Acknowledge the feeling
  • Understand your narrative
  • Keep track of your accomplishments and strengths
  • Ask for help 

Imposter syndrome can prevent us from reaching our true potential and pursuing our passions. However, it can also bring more than self-doubt. Feelings of anxiety and depression can arise and lead to burnout as we overwork ourselves trying to prevent being “discovered and exposed as a fraud” continuously.

Most of us experience moments of doubt, and that’s normal. The goal is to recognize it, acknowledge it, and work to overcome it. The important part is not to let that doubt control your actions. And remember, you are not alone. Most of us have been there. 

Overcoming Imposter Syndrome is one of the main areas that I specialize in. To know more, you can find more content and information on my social media channels.

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