Updated: Jul 23, 2021
Four Tips for Overcoming Imposter Syndrome
I have Imposter Syndrome: persistent doubt concerning...abilities or accomplishments. What does that look like? Well, last week, a woman I greatly admire told me I inspire her. My stomach churned. My thoughts raced:
“Me? Inspire you? You’re a nuclear physicist!”
“Me? You’ve accomplished more in your lifetime than I could ever dream to!”
But rather than verbalize these gut reactions — as I so often did in the past — I paused, took a breath, and said:
The nagging self-doubt remained, but my awareness of its origin empowered me to quiet it and accept my friend’s compliment graciously.
If this scenario sounded familiar, you might well be among the 70% who suffer from Imposter Syndrome. Perhaps you’ve experienced generally unproductive behaviors like holding back, chronic procrastination, self-sabotage, or burnout. Maybe you’ve let a sense of inadequacy hold you back from asking for a raise, applying for a promotion, or negotiating a higher salary. While an imposter mindset can manifest insidiously both personally and professionally, preventing you from realizing your highest potential, fear not. There are steps you can take to mitigate its effects.
1. Create a “Brag Bag”
Collect artifacts (accolades, performance evaluations, email shout-outs) that demonstrate your quality work. Compile this evidence of your excellence in a handwritten list, desktop folder, flash drive... Whatever’s easiest to reference for reassurance when you catch yourself questioning your abilities. This tangible testament to your skills can help you separate fact (your expertise) from fiction (your doubts). (And hey, if you experience Imposter Syndrome, the chances are high that you’re a perfectionist, so it should be pretty easy to gather some jobs-well-done...)
2. Log Off
It’s easy to feel inadequate when you’re constantly comparing yourself to the highlight reels people present on social media. Remind yourself that all is not as it seems on the Internet, and take a break from social media (or mute the specific accounts that induce self-doubt) if you find it compromising your self-esteem.
3. Talk it Out
Sharing your feelings with loved ones can help you disrupt negative ruminations and reestablish a positive mindset. You might also find comfort in numbers. (Remember that 70% statistic? It’s likely your peers have experienced similar emotions.) If you still find that you’re feeling inadequate, consider talking to a professional. A therapist can help you identify the root cause of your doubts and take action against Imposter Syndrome.
4. Embrace Clichés
Learn from failure. Instead of allowing a mistake to nourish self-doubt, view it as an opportunity to improve. Fake it ‘til you make it. High-achievers confidently put themselves out there and grow as a result. Don’t let intrusive “What-ifs” prevent you from chasing an opportunity. There’s a reason these phrases pervade memoirs, motivational speeches, and every K-12 classroom’s walls. They’re true.
These are some of many ways you can combat an imposter mindset and achieve your fullest personal and professional potential. If you suspect you might have Imposter Syndrome, you can use this tool to evaluate yourself. If you know you have it, and you want to work through it with a Life and Career Coach, I’m here to help. Go ahead and sign up for a free consultation today.