6 Signs You Might Be Suffering from Imposter Syndrome and What to Do About It
Do you suffer from a suspicion that you might be a big fraud and everyone will find out? It's natural sometimes to feel inadequate, but you could be suffering from a much more serious ailment known as imposter syndrome.
What Is Imposter Syndrome?
Imposter syndrome is the internal belief that you're not as competent as others think you are. It manifests itself when people give you praise or positive feedback. As a result, you might feel undeserving, even though all the evidence suggests that you're highly skilled. At its worst, you may feel like a fraud.
The concept was first coined in the 1970s by psychologists to describe an experience often felt by athletes and business executives. They discovered that even the most recognized individuals often failed to understand their worth, which could cause performance problems.
Imposter syndrome can cause a great deal of damage to your work, career, and personal life, so it's essential to recognize the signs early and take action to stop it.
Minimizing Your Achievements
People with imposter syndrome truly believe achievements are not a big deal. When someone praises you, you instinctively rebut it and, deep down, genuinely don't believe you're deserving. You may automatically point out the contributions of others to minimize what you did.
Chalking It Up to Luck
People with imposter syndrome attribute their accomplishments to luck. But, unfortunately, they overstate the role chance plays in their lives, missing entirely the skill and hard work that made it all happen.
An Impossible Standard of Success
You may set an impossibly high standard of success for yourself and then feel that you don't deserve to achieve it. One way to tell if this is an issue is to determine whether you feel fear or anxiety when you think about the goals you want to reach. This is a symptom of perfectionism often at the core of imposter syndrome.
Fear You're Not Measuring up
People with imposter syndrome often secretly fear they don't meet others' expectations. These could be your boss's work expectations, family members, or even friends and business partners. No matter how often they confirm that you're doing a great job, you feel like it's never enough.
You're on the 'Imposter Cycle'
The imposter cycle is a pattern that starts with anxiety leading to intense over-preparation and planning. Then, driven by the fear of not doing a looming task well, you go through a frantic process of preparing. This may be accompanied by procrastination and excuse-making. Finally, when the project is accomplished, you feel a momentary sense of satisfaction until you think of the next undertaking.
You Don't Ask What You're Worth
When you don't understand your true worth, you don't ask for what you deserve. This includes the pay you should be receiving. The feeling of inadequacy will impede your need to ask for a raise, quote your services, or make any other big ask.
10 Tips to Overcoming Imposter Syndrome
- Know the Signs. You've learned the signs here, so you can put this to use right now. Pay attention to your words and actions and interrogate the feelings that arise. Where are they coming from, and why?
- Fight Imposter Syndrome with Facts. The negative feelings you feel aren't based on reality. Looking at the facts can help. Gather evidence that shows how much progress you've made and how much you've achieved, then surround yourself with it when you need a reminder.
- Share Your Feelings. You're not alone in feeling the way you do. Did you know that such obvious high-achievers as Michelle Obama and Maya Angelou have expressed these same feelings? Reach out to others who think themselves inadequate and share your feelings. This will help you put things in perspective.
- Learn To Not Compare. Imposter feelings often arise from erroneously comparing ourselves to others. Remember that all of us are different, and we all have our paths. Avoid comparing yourself to others.
- Celebrate Your Successes. If you suffer from imposter syndrome, you focus on your failures and shortcomings rather than your successes. Remind yourself of the fantastic things you've achieved.
- List up Your Strengths. List your skills, qualifications, experience, and natural strengths. Use this list to boost your confidence whenever you need it.
- Switch Negative to Positive. We often have negative self-talk driving our feelings of insecurity. Recognize the negative talk and replace it with something positive.
- Reframe Failure. What does "failure" mean to you? Reframe it so it's not something bad but a valuable learning experience.
- Visualize Success. What would success look like? Imagine what it means to you and visualize yourself making it. This will help you set impossible standards and be more satisfied with your achievements.
- Let Go of Perfectionism. Focus on your progress and growth. Quit trying to be perfect. Adjust your standards and learn to do "good enough" while striving to improve.