Imposter Syndrome: What You Need To Know
On a typical day, you know you’re good at your job, but unfortunately, today isn’t that kind of day.
Lately, for some unknown reason, you’ve been experiencing a niggling sense that you’re just not up to the job. You find you can’t help but let uncertain thoughts creep in, and you ask yourself constantly – “what if I’m just not good enough?”
You’re exhausted from battling with negative thoughts, and your daily routine is peppered with insecurities that you can’t seem to shake. If this sounds familiar, then you might be experiencing what has become known as ‘Imposter Syndrome’. It’s become so common that many psychologists are now calling it ‘Imposter Experience’.
The Impostor Phenomenon was first described by Dr Pauline Clance who noted that individuals experiencing it have an intense feeling that their achievements are undeserved. Now that we know what it’s like to experience Imposter Syndrome, let’s take a look at 7 strategies to help you get your confidence back.
1. Remember You’re Not Alone
Over 70% of the global population experience Imposter Syndrome at least once in their lifetime. If almost three quarters of the global population feel like a fraud at some point, then it means that what you’re going through is perfectly normal.
Such a high figure suggests that at least one of your friends or colleagues is going through the same thing as you right now. It’s important that you tell yourself that this is temporary – you won’t always feel like this. Don’t give your feelings anymore power than they already have over you.
2. Talk To Someone
I know if I’ve had a bad day then it always make me feel better to chat to someone about it. If your self-esteem has been low for a while, why not talk to someone you trust? I think there’s a lot of truth to the phrase ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’.
If you chat to a friend then the chances are that you’ll feel better; at minimum you’ll know you have some support in place. They might even end up confiding in you about a similar experience. If they’ve been through this before then be sure to ask them for their advice – they’ve come through to the other side and so can you.
3. Accept This Feeling
Instead of wasting your energy fighting negative thoughts, why not accept them? Your thoughts are only temporary; they don’t define you, they are fleeting and they will fade with time. It might be an unconventional strategy, but if you accept them it will actually save you lots of time and energy.
Instead of wasting time worrying about your negative thoughts, the minute you accept them they begin to lose their influence over you. You will have more time to think, and hopefully, it will create some space for more positive thoughts.
4. Acknowledge Your Skills and Talents
One practical exercise is to take a few minutes to write down five positive thoughts about yourself and your proven ability to carry out a task in the past. These thoughts can be as simple as: “I am a hard worker and the company hired me because I am very good at my job”. Take a minute to read over these thoughts every day for a week and see what happens. Be sure to add to your list all the time.
These notes are called positive affirmations, and they subconsciously work away at building up your self-esteem. You’ll be surprised at the positive effect that they have on your confidence; you’ll slowly realise that you start to believe exactly what you’ve written down. The Williams sisters use positive affirmations very successfully in their careers as professional tennis players.
5. Look At The Evidence
Research studies have proven that the vast majority of people who experience imposter syndrome are conscientious and diligent employees in reality. This means that you’re aware of your shortcomings and you have an interest in improving yourself all the time. There is a proven correlation between experiencing imposter syndrome, perfectionism and being a high performer at work.
If you’re stressing about not being up to the job then the chances are that you’re ahead of most of your colleagues. Take a step back from your work if you can and give yourself a break to relax and regroup. Remember that people who are incompetent usually don’t realise that they are, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that they’re not worrying about it.
6. Act Confidently
One of the best pieces of advice is to learn how to act confidently when you’re just not feeling it. This is a skill that can be really tough; you need to learn how to hold your head high when you’re feeling insecure. Practice at home and then try and start every day by adopting a new confident way of behaving.
It might sound ridiculous, but if you teach yourself to be confident, slowly over time, you will begin to believe it. Your internal sense of inferiority will begin to be replaced by a feeling of self-worth. Start your day by reading over your positive affirmations, stand up tall, and be sure to speak with conviction in any professional meetings. If you act confident you will become confident.
7. Visualise An Outcome
It can be hard to concentrate when your mind is full of negative thoughts. Try to focus on the outcome of one task instead of getting overwhelmed by all the different challenges ahead of you. Make a list and tick off your completed tasks as you go; this will give you a sense of achievement. If you’re having trouble concentrating, picture yourself having finished the first thing on your list successfully and that will help you focus.
Most people are reluctant to talk about their negative thoughts and ‘Imposter Syndrome’, so it’s easy to forget that 70% of people experience self-doubt too.
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