Imposter syndrome and how to beat it

Imposter Syndrome

We all experience feeling that we are inadequate. Regardless of our qualifications or suitability for a role, Imposter Syndrome can knock our confidence and make us feel like we are not in the right place. In 1978 by clinical psychologists, came up with the term of Imposter Syndrome and is formally marked by a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud” and an inability to internalise accomplishments. According to HBR, common thoughts and feelings associated with this syndrome include, “I must not fail,” “I feel like a fraud,” “It’s all down to luck,” and “Success is no big deal.

While both men and women experience Impostor Syndrome, studies show that women are more often affected and more likely to suffer the consequences. Valerie Young, author of The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women, says, “Being female means you and your work automatically stand a greater chance of being ignored, discounted, trivialized, devalued or otherwise taken less seriously than a man’s.” It is hence no surprise why women tend to question their abilities and feel inferior.

So what can you do to limit the negative impact of Impostor Syndrome?

1. Self-awareness.

The first important step is to recognize that you are experiencing these feelings. Awareness is the key to bringing about the change, you need, in the way you think and act. As soon as you know and rationalise what you are feeling, you are on your way to handling it and getting it under control.

2. Talk about it

There may be others who share the same fears as you, even in your workplace. By sharing your feelings you may find out that you are not alone. Try to find people who have overcome feelings of inadequacy and use their stories to support you.

3. Reconsider your perception of failure.

It is okay to sometimes be wrong. We can't know everything and failing gives us room to grow and learn. Remember that even the most successful people have failed, considerably, people lose millions in business, lose their jobs but come back fighting -  and they are not less deserving of their positions. Remind yourself that you will learn more as you progress. Evaluate the reality of what could go wrong by asking yourself, “What’s the worst that can happen?” This will help to rationalise and control your fears. Most importantly, reframe the failure as an opportunity to learn. Always remember, no one really knows what their future holds. The fact that you are pushing yourself to be your best is admirable and authentic to your true self. Don't discredit your journey but respect it.

4. Reaffirm your self-worth.

Accept the facts pointing to your competency or success and be kind to yourself. Get rid of any negative self-talk. When you feel inadequate, go back and review previous accomplishments or positive feedbacks. Recount the people who applauded your success remember the days you are proud of. This will help to assure that nobody belongs where you are more than you do.


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