Updated: Jul 25
I don’t belong here.
How did I even get that promotion?
Sure, I got that award, but that was just good luck.
Skill had nothing to do with it.
I had nothing to do with it.
I’m a fake.
No matter what I do, I’ll never be enough.
Do any of these thoughts sound familiar to you?
You are not alone.
Many people worldwide and across all industries have these thoughts, regardless of how “successful” they may be, such as Sheryl Sandberg and Tom Hanks. For some, it becomes persistent enough that they would classify themselves as having “imposter syndrome.”
What is imposter syndrome though? And more importantly, how can you overcome imposter syndrome?
According to the NCBI, imposter syndrome is a behavioural health phenomenon whereby high-achieving individuals “cannot internalize their success and subsequently, experience pervasive feelings of self-doubt, anxiety, depression, and/or apprehension of being exposed as a fraud...despite veritable and objective evidence of their successfulness.” Individuals experiencing imposter syndrome often believe that their achievements are a result of luck or external factors, rather than their own skills or abilities. They constantly compare themselves to others, downplay their accomplishments, and attribute their success to external factors.
Imposter syndrome can affect individuals in various areas of life, including the workplace, academia, and personal relationships. Recognizing and addressing imposter syndrome is crucial for individuals to embrace their talents, build self-assurance, and reach their full potential.
Below are 5 strategies you can utilize to overcome imposter syndrome:
Recognize Your Achievements: Take time to acknowledge and celebrate your accomplishments. Keep a record of positive feedback, milestones achieved, and projects completed. Look back at these tangible pieces of evidence when negative self-talk rears its ugly head.
Embrace Growth Mindset: Understand that learning and growth are continuous processes. Many individuals who deal with imposter syndrome also describe themselves as “perfectionists.” So instead of focusing on perfection, view challenges as opportunities to develop new skills and gain valuable experience. Embracing a growth mindset allows you to approach setbacks as learning opportunities rather than failures, which will contribute to helping you build resilience.
Seek Support and Mentorship: Reach out to trusted colleagues, mentors, or support networks for guidance and reassurance. Sharing your experiences with others who have faced similar challenges can provide a fresh perspective, normalize imposter syndrome, and offer valuable advice. In essence, talking about imposter syndrome with a trusted peer can provide greater connection and support than simply reading an article or watching a video about it.
Practice Self-Compassion: Be kind to yourself. Acknowledge that making mistakes or feeling unsure is part of the learning journey. Treat yourself with the same empathy and understanding you would extend to a friend facing a similar situation. Cultivating self-compassion can help silence the inner critic and foster a more positive mindset.
Practice Positive Self-Talk: Imposter syndrome thrives on negative self-talk, creating a vicious cycle of self-doubt. Many professionals constantly compare themselves to their peers, often underestimating their own abilities and attributing their success to external factors. This negative self-talk not only hinders personal growth but also prevents professionals from embracing challenges and taking risks, essential for growth and development. With that said, you literally have the power to flip the script. Instead of talking down to yourself, boost yourself up.
Now, let’s go back to those phrases at the beginning of the article and “flip the script”:
I don’t belong here. → I have every right to be here, just like everyone else.
How did I even get that promotion? → I worked hard, and I deserve that promotion.
Sure, I got that award, but that was just good luck. → I got that award due to my amazing creativity and unique contributions to the team.
Skill had nothing to do with it. → A combination of talent, hard work, and luck is the key to success.
I had nothing to do with it. → I did it!
I’m a fake. → I’m a successful professional.
No matter what I do, I’ll never be enough. → I am, and I will always be enough.
If you’ve been suffering from imposter syndrome for a while, saying these positive phrases to yourself can sound strange. It may even feel like you’re lying to yourself. However, imposter syndrome is constantly telling yourself negative and often untrue statements anyway. So instead of focusing on negative self-talk and constant criticism, concentrate on positive praise. By practicing and reinforcing your praise muscle, you will grow stronger and over time, reclaim your confidence, embrace your capabilities, and unlock your true potential.