Let’s step back in time for a moment.
Think of the greatest achievements in your life.
- You scored a high GPA in university.
- You got promoted in office.
- You married someone ‘way out of your league.’
Now recall the thoughts that lingered in your mind during these pivotal moments.
- “I don’t know how this happened.”
- “I’m not as good as everyone thinks I am, and soon they’ll find out.”
- “I got lucky.”
Ring any bells?
If your answer is yes, you’re not the only one.
All of us have doubted our self-worth at some point in our lives – it’s normal.
However, if you continue doing so even after the accomplishments were the result of your dedication, commitment, and hard work, you’re most likely suffering from imposter syndrome.
Imposter syndrome refers to doubting your capabilities and thinking you’re a fraud.
It’s a continuous battle between what you think of yourself and what others think of you. And the impact is so profound that even when everyone else is praising your efforts, you’re stuck in an “I don’t deserve this” rut.
The question arises, “How can a person develop imposter syndrome?”
Well, the primary causes include, but are not limited to:
- Childhood Development
- Individual Traits
- Family Dynamics
- Cultural Expectations
- Constant Comparisons
What Are the Signs of Imposter Syndrome?
While there’s no official diagnosis of identifying imposter syndrome, you’re suffering from it if:
- You fear people will discover that you’re a fraud.
- You feel unworthy.
- You believe people admire your efforts just because they’re being nice, not because you deserve it.
- You credit luck for your success and not your skills.
- You apologize for things that weren’t even your fault.
- You avoid being confident because you fear you’ll be judged for it.
- You look for validation from other authoritative figures in your life.
Who Is Susceptible to Imposter Syndrome?
The term imposter syndrome was first coined for high-achieving women in the 1970s.
Today, however, it applies to everyone, even A-list celebrities like Tom Hanks, Tina Fey, and Awkwafina, who seem to have conquered everything in life.
Although it still needs research, a few studies suggest that minorities are especially vulnerable to developing imposter syndrome. And that’s because our society already credits their success to fulfilling a certain ‘diversity quota.’
Combine that with self-doubt, and the results can be devastating.
How to Deal with Imposter Syndrome?
To rip off the band-aid right away, no medical procedure can cure imposter syndrome. But don’t worry, there’s light at the end of the tunnel.
You can cope with imposter syndrome by following a few different tactics.
Acknowledge Your Feelings
Stop fighting your feelings and start acknowledging them.
Whenever that little voice inside your head says, “You don’t deserve this,”write that feeling in a journal.
Seeing it written on a piece of paper would help you realize that it’s just a feeling and not a reality. And just because you’re feeling undeserving doesn’t actually mean you are.
And then counteract those feelings by focusing on the positive ones.
Share Your Feelings
Sometimes, the impact of imposter syndrome is so deeply rooted that fighting it alone proves difficult. And that’s when you need to enlist other people’s help.
Share your feelings with others. Not only would it help manage the syndrome, but once you hear what they think of you, it might change the way you perceive yourself.
But you should be very careful about who you share this stuff with. Try to vent these feelings to people outside your professional circle, someone who isn’t your competitor.
Stop Searching for Perfection
Most people who suffer from imposter syndrome are high-achievers. They’re OBSESSED with being the best. And, as a result, they set unrealistically high standards for themselves. And failing to meet them feeds the syndrome.
The thing about perfection is that it’s The Big Guy’s department. The only thing we, mere mortal beings, have to do is give it our best shot.
All of us have unique abilities, yet none of us can do every job perfectly. So, at some point, you have to step back and tell yourself, “I need to stop striving for perfection and focus on being good enough.”
After all, the goal is progress, not perfection.
Measure Your Success
When you’re suffering from imposter syndrome, you’ll never be able to believe that if something good happened in your life, it was because of your talent.
You’ll always put your success on luck, how much other people contributed, and even favoritism.
But you need to show yourself that you’ve won. And an effective way to do that is to keep track of your milestones.
- If you’re a student, compile the remarks you’ve received on your projects.
- If you’re a salesperson, keep track of all the targets you’ve achieved.
- If you’re a blogger, monitor the number of visitors of your website.
You can even make a folder on your computer and fill it with messages, emails, screenshots – any souvenir that reminds you of all the hard work you did to achieve that outcome.
Restructure Your Thoughts
As Rene Descartes aptly said, ‘Except our thoughts, there is nothing absolutely in our power.’ How we think about our world can either make it or break it; the choice entirely rests in our hands.
So, if you often find yourself entangled in negative thoughts, try to flip the narrative.
If your mind says, “All these people admiring you? They’re just being nice because they don’t want to hurt you”,hit back with “No. Everyone sees how hard I worked for this, and that’s exactly why I’m receiving this appreciative feedback.”
It won’t produce the results overnight, but there will come a time when your mind will look at things from a positive point of view.
Hopefully, the next time imposter syndrome feelings kick in, you’ll be able to tackle them head-on.