It’s your first week at your new job – things are feeling okay. Everyone around you is busy, and you’re hard at work, ticking off things on your to do list. But then you start to notice an unusual feeling, a thought that has crossed your mind once or twice before. Even with all your years of experience working in a particular experience and the knowledge you have; you’re beginning to think you know nothing. You start to believe that you shouldn’t have this job, and that you’re a fraud, phony, a fake. This is called Imposter Syndrome.
Imposter Syndrome is a term to describe the psychological experience of feeling like you don’t deserve your success. It’s most common in those who are high achievers, as they have trouble accepting what they have achieved within their life and or career.
It can affect all people in all aspects of life, but most of the research into imposter syndrome has focused on the experience in relation to work and study. According to the International Journal of Behavioral Science, more than 70% of people are affected by workplace imposter thoughts at some point in their lives.
Signs & Symptoms
If you experience any of the following, you may have Imposter Syndrome:
- Have self-doubt.
- Override compliments to our work, successes, and accomplishments.
- Tell yourself you could have done better.
- Fear being “found out” because you do not own your value and achievements.
- Do not believe in yourself.
- Engage in negative self-talk.
- Feel like a fake.
The root issue of imposter syndrome is the feeling that you are not good enough. In many walks of life- and business is no exception- there are high achievers who believe that they are complete fakes. To the outside observer, these individuals appear to be remarkably accomplished; often they are extremely successful leaders. Despite their staggering achievements, however, these people sense they are frauds.
How To Overcome Imposter Syndrome
The first step is overcoming and recognising that you have Imposter Syndrome, and that is often the hardest part. Acknowledging why you are thinking and feeling this way is extremely difficult, but by realising it, you’re already making an improvement in yourself.
- Acknowledge your feelings
Keep a journal and write down whenever you experience feelings of self-doubt or inadequacy and explain why you’re feeling this way. Be as specific as possible. The chances are that when you write it out you’ll see that you shouldn’t worry about the situation. Counter negative thoughts with positive statements, and produce affirmations that neutralise those negative thoughts.
- Talk To Others
Reach out and talk to people you trust. You might be surprised by how many of your friends and colleagues can relate to how you feel. Listen to the people you respect in your life and let them show you how your fears are unfounded.
- Develop A Quick Response Plan
When the negative self-talk takes over, try to confront it by distancing yourself from the emotional power of the voice. You can try this by thinking of yourself in third person. Instead of allowing yourself to think “Why did I do that?” try thinking, “Why did they do that?” This will help you to gain a more objective, external perspective on your thoughts and feelings.
- Understand Your Strengths And Weaknesses
Build up your confidence by becoming more aware of your strengths and weaknesses. Try doing a personal SWOT analysis to discover what you’re best at, and to think about how you can minimise your weaknesses.
- Overcome Perfectionism
Learn how to set yourself realistic, challenging and achievable goals. Instead of seeking your mistakes as something to be ashamed of, treat them as a learning experience that will help you to perform even better next time.
- Own your successes.
People with Imposter Syndrome find it hard to accept compliments. When things go well, they attribute their success to external factors such as help from others, or good fortune. But when things go wrong, they blame themselves.
Imposter Syndrome is a self-fulling pattern of thought, in which you consider yourself to be a fraud. You doubt your own intelligence and talents and think that anyone who believes otherwise is either “being nice” or has somehow been fooled into believing this.
To overcome Imposter Syndrome, you need to break the pattern of setting unattainable standards and thinking that external, temporary factors such as luck, or the help of other people, handle your success.
Finally, take ownership of your successes. Learn how to take a compliment and draw strength from it.