How to Overcome Imposter Syndrome
Imposter syndrome which is sometimes known as imposters syndrome is a fear of being found out for being a phony or a fraud. If you have this mindset then you will have a belief that you have only achieved what you have in life due to sheer luck or flukes rather than it having anything to do with your knowledge or skill. This creates a worry that you will be found out by your colleagues and friends leading to embarrassment, loss of you job or career. Learning how to overcome imposter syndrome is important to reduce feelings of anxiety, worry and fear.
Imposter Syndrome Symptoms
If you suffer from imposter syndrome here are some of the symptoms that you might be experiencing:
- Worry and Self Doubt
- Fear of making a mistake
- Constantly working harder and being self-critical of any errors you make
- Believing that you only succeeded because of luck or a mistake
- A lack of awareness of your actual worth and skill
- Depression and anxiety
- Feeling inadequate
Imposter syndrome is not just about low confidence but is also linked to anxiety and perfectionism. As with any psychological issue the severity of the problem can vary from person to person. We may all suffer from a little self-doubt at times in our lives but imposter syndrome lingers for far longer.
Imposter Syndrome at Work
One of the first things that everyone thinks of when talking about imposter syndrome is work. Why? Because when you get a job you will have had to pass certain interviews to get into a role. Your job level and salary can be compared amongst your peers. Plus there are comparisons to be made with regards to intelligence and level of education. It is a minefield if you have problems with self-doubt or insecurity. This is especially the case when you just start a new job role. Imposter syndrome in a new job can create huge anxiety as you are still in some ways on probation and the worry is you will get things wrong and lose the position.
The problem with many people with the syndrome is that they are high achievers in the first place. Even if they have the most spectacular results, qualifications and experience they worry about whether they are enough. One of our clients was in a high powered job, had a PHD, attended Oxford University and still had doubts whether they were up to the job. They believed they had only passed their exams because they had a good memory and that it was only a matter of time before they were found out as a fraud. What they were unable to see is that nobody would be able to achieve their successes on memory alone.
Even if you haven’t got all the best qualifications it is perfectly possible to succeed on merit. If we think about people such as Sir Richard Branson or Simon Cowell neither have got much in terms of academic awards yet both have been hugely successful. This didn’t happen by magic but because they had great business acumen that earned them money and respect. They didn’t have to learn how to overcome imposter syndrome because they believed in themselves.
Imposter Syndrome Due to Gender, Race or Sexuality
For many years there was a belief that imposter syndrome was experienced more by women than by men but this has been found not to be the case. In fact, the problem is felt throughout society with statistics showing that at some point in our careers at least 70% of people will experience the thoughts to some degree.
Imposter syndrome can occur due to gender issues, race, sexuality or disability. If you are disabled you may think you only got your job role due to government quotas rather than actual knowledge and skill. You may believe that you are the only woman on the investment bank trading floor because of positive discrimination and so on.
The reality is that no employer pays good money to a person without them being capable of doing the role. Can you imagine them saying we must employ someone even though we know they may not be up to it and will make mistakes and lose money? The very idea is preposterous but to the person with the worry, they always that that fear in the back of their mind. If you worry like this daily then learning how to overcome imposter syndrome is important for your peace of mind.
How to Combat Imposter Syndrome
Look at the Statistics
I find that many of our clients are able to put things into perspective when they look at the statistics and see cold hard facts rather than second-guessing. For example, if you have a PhD in the UK you are 0.50% of the population which is an incredibly small amount. When you start to look at the numbers in this case clearly if you have one of these qualifications you are in the complete minority. You can’t fake this qualification you have had to earn it through hard work and intelligence.
Examine Your Successes
Start to write down the successes you have experienced in your life to see why you might be in the position you are in now. Did you get a 1st at university? Were you top of your accounting exams? Do you win prizes for your work or get published in reputable journals? Do you earn significantly more than the national average? When you start to examine timelines it is likely you will have had a chain of successes that have brought you to where you are now.
Self-Hypnosis for Stress
Imposter syndrome can rear its head when we are more stressed leading to increased anxiety about our talents and abilities. When we learn to make adjustments to our lifestyle choices and practice relaxation techniques it is possible to reduce anxiety levels. A simple deep relaxation audio can make all the difference providing it is listened to regularly to create feelings of calm.
Confidence and Self-Esteem
Work on increasing your confidence levels and self-esteem. When you feel better about yourself it can make a world of difference to self-doubt. Positive affirmations and confidence-building exercises can help you to feel good. Keep on fighting back against the negative self-critical voice in your head. The more you practice positive affirmation the more likely they will stick.
Don’t Beat Yourself Up
People with imposter syndrome tend to be their own harshest critics when they make a mistake. Learn how to overcome imposter syndrome by cutting yourself some slack. Everyone makes mistakes. It doesn’t make your stupid or a failure. Learn from what went wrong and move on and put it behind you rather than letting one small error take too much of your focus.
Accept that Your Mind Lies
All our minds lie to us all the time but sometimes it is difficult to know when this is happening. We tend to believe the internal dialogue that we have with ourselves without questioning whether any of it is true. Start to examine and write down what you mind is telling you and you will begin to see false and incorrect statements. When you recognise that what your mind is telling you is incorrect it can be easier to ignore it.
Imposter syndrome and perfectionist tendencies go hand in hand. The need to get everything done in exactly the right way can be more trouble than it is worth. There is no need to get everything absolutely 100% when most people are quite happy with just good. You can waste a ton of time and energy on tasks that really aren’t necessary.
If you are finding it difficult to manage your fears and worries then arrange to get help. There is never any need for you to try and do everything on your own. Involving other experts to help you combat your problem can be a great way to learn how to overcome imposter syndrome as they can help you look at things from an entirely different perspective.
Therapy for Imposter Syndrome
Therapy for imposter syndrome can help you to look at the bigger picture and help to change the way in which you think. We use a combination of confidence coaching as well as hypnotherapy to help our clients make positive change. We can help them discover why they are thinking negatively and then aim our therapy and coaching at the real issues rather than just the symptoms. If you would like more information about how to overcome imposter syndrome with therapy simple fill out the form below for more information.
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