Imposter Syndrome – A collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success
If you find yourself questioning your success, doubting your abilities or fearing that you somehow faked your way to where you are now and are at risk of being “found out,” you may be among the vast majority of the workforce that suffers from Imposter Syndrome.
This phenomenon is brought on by measuring personal value through achievement and success. Many of those who experience Imposter Syndrome also experienced external pressure and stress to perform, whether that be from parents, peers, or superiors in the workplace at one point or another in their lives.
Imposter Syndrome, if left to fester, can limit your ambitions and bar you from reaping well-deserved rewards for your successes. If you attribute your professional successes to luck rather than your own abilities, you’re less likely to ask for deserved promotions or raises from your supervisors, and more likely to overwork yourself to reach unrealistic standards. In the short term, this can lead to burnout and exhaustion, and in the long term, it can lead to stress-related health complications, chronic over-working, and can negatively impact your mental health.
Luckily, it’s never too late to reverse the effects of Imposter Syndrome! When you start to feel the self-doubt and self-criticism creep in, here are 7 steps to take back your ambition:
- Take a look at your bigger picture
Compare where you are now, to where you were 5 years ago. 5 years worth of growth and learning have gotten you to where you are right now, so your successes are well deserved!
- Talk to others about how you’re feeling
Be honest about your feelings of self-doubt or work anxiety with people you trust outside of your professional circle! Be open to hearing what others see in you as well, and this can create a whole new perspective on your skills and accomplishments.
- Celebrate yourself and let others celebrate you too
No more downplaying successes! If you’re receiving praise or congratulations, don’t move on too quickly or brush it off. Taking the time to reflect on your accomplishments and applauding your wins can help internalize your success, and fight off self-doubt.
- Be compassionate towards yourself
When your imposter thoughts start to make an appearance, listen to your internal monologue. Would you speak to a friend like that? If the answer is no, you shouldn’t be speaking to yourself that way either!
- Stop demanding perfection from yourself
Expecting perfection from yourself, or any one around you is unfortunately unrealistic. It can be hard to let go of the idea of perfection though, so try to focus more on your progress than the end result. Realizing your growth will make it easier to separate unmet standards from your personal value.
- Find a community
In the age of Facebook Groups and hashtag followings, there are numerous avenues to find a community of your peers who are most likely experiencing similar feelings. Sharing your self-doubts or failures within these communities can decrease the sense of loneliness and isolation that can accompany Imposter Syndrome.
- Accept that not every thought you have may be true
Becoming aware of your limiting beliefs and self-criticism tendencies makes managing your Imposter Syndrome exponentially easier. It doesn’t mean you won’t still experience Imposter thoughts from time to time, though. Recognizing that these thoughts are not based in facts, and that high-stress environments or career shifts are more likely to trigger these thoughts can increase your awareness and decrease the duration of this mindset.
Managing Imposter Syndrome on your own can be overwhelming. Don’t be afraid to lean on those around you for support, in fact we encourage it. Whether your Imposter Syndrome manifests in your personal life or your professional life, its effects can be felt through both, so it’s important to get a handle on it while you can.
Celebrate your successes, reflect on your growth, and know that your skills and ability are what have carried you this far – not luck.