Impostor Syndrome: 5 tips to overcome
Updated: Jul 23
Psychology Today describes impostor syndrome as a psychological situation in which people are unable to recognize and internalize their achievements. Although roughly 70% of people are believed to suffer from impostor syndrome, women are more susceptible to it than men. Men are believed to have honest overconfidence, that is, by default they view themselves more competent and accomplished than they actually are. I believe this among other factors has made us looked down upon, underappreciated and mistreated over centuries.
Carol Dweck, the author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, claims since girls learn how being good causes them to be appreciated, they learn early on to avoid making mistakes and taking risks. Boys, on the other hand, learn how to take scolding and disappointment earlier on and become more risk indulgent and more likely to make mistakes.
Studies have proved that women who are confident and more secure about themselves gain a bad reputation at work since their assertiveness is so unusual it paints them out to be bitches. Additionally, in studies, Linda Babcock, the author of Women Don't Ask, found that men ask for salary increases four times more than women and even when women do ask they ask for 30% less than men counterparts.
I have always felt inadequate in some way, and as I get older, I now realize all the opportunities I've wasted, just because I couldn't get out of my head. I'd be dishonest with myself if I didn't admit that my insecurities still rule parts of my world. It is one of the reasons this blog isn't as big as it should be and why I haven't started my business.
So how then can we overcome imposter syndrome? Valerie Young, an international expert of impostor syndrome claims the only way to overcome impostor syndrome is to stop thinking like an impostor. This she claims is because the people who do not feel impostor syndrome are not more competent or accomplished than us, they just do not think they are impostors. Shame is at the core of impostor syndrome, people feel ashamed for not having certain skills and by doing that they completely overlook the achievements they have.
Here are some tips that Valarie gives to help us all stop feeling like impostors;
1. Acknowledge your feelings
The first step to your way to recovery is acknowledging that sometimes or most times you feel fraudulent. To fix your impostor feelings, you have to admit it is a problem and affecting your life. Without acknowledging it you would never see it as a problem and continue dwelling comfortably feeling like a fraud.
2. Separate your feelings from facts
Just because you feel stupid doesn't mean you are stupid. When in a situation you have never been before, such as presenting a case in front of a board of highly successful people, it is normal to feel fraudulent. But that does not mean you are, you cannot be knowledgeable about every aspect of life.
3. Be prepared for failure
Failure is inevitable and fear of failure is an ultimate route to depression and further failure. It is thus important to be prepared for days you will fail. Device ways in which you will talk yourself through a failed project and learn from your mistakes and move on. Dwelling on past mistakes is one of the things that get us stuck on impostor syndrome.
4. Be prepared for success
Before walking into a situation or doing something that will usually make you feel like a fraud, change the narrative of your mind and be prepared to win. Visualize how you will succeed and even your reactions when you do.
5. Reward yourself
Instead of waiting for the claps at the end of your presentation, be the first one to clap for yourself. Reward yourself for every milestone. Appreciate the things that did go right even when you fail and acknowledge your skills and ability to do them well.
If you are willing to change the narrative of your feelings, this is a great way to start but it does not mean that you will not from time to time feel insecure. Be consistent when these feelings arise and cut yourself some slack, you're probably doing better than you think you are.
**Photo by ekk814--2117017