You have an amazing job, a great salary and your boss thinks that the sun shines out of every fibre of your being and so why are you convinced that the only reason you have reached these dizzy heights is due to pure serendipitous luck. It can’t possibly be due to your talent or capability and so you spend most days feeling like a swan swimming, lurking in the shadows waiting to be found out. It’s almost as if the self-doubt disables your ability and you are left questioning everything you do.
Am I good enough?
Is she better than me?
Am I going to mess this up?
Does this strike a chord? If yes, you could be suffering with Imposter Syndrome, a psychological phenomenon first identified in 1978 by psychologists Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes. And you certainly won’t be alone as it is estimated that some 70% of successful people have experienced the syndrome.
It often effects high achievers and/or perfectionists, who set huge goals and high expectations for themselves. Failure to reach these mammoth targets can result in feeling strong feelings of self-doubt and anxiety plus thoughts that they are not as capable as their peers. Imposter Syndrome can also impact experts such as Surgeons, Engineers or Barristers, who feel a weight of responsibility to know everything. This can lead them to worry about being exposed as inexperienced or not having the answers.
Imposter Syndrome can stifle natural talent and create difficult working cultures as those suffering fail to be themselves, hiding their true- and best-selves. Imposters often require a stamp of approval from leaders and rarely celebrate successes. They can demand too much from those who work with and for them.
I believe the route out of Imposter Syndrome includes five things.
Acknowledge the Facts
You have the qualifications and/or experience to do the job and therefore you are credible. You were recruited to do the role by HR specialists and/or leaders who know their stuff. What makes you think you know better than them?
Celebrate your Successes
Stop and smell the roses you planted. Celebrate everything you achieve, however small. Write them down, give yourself a pat on the back and revel for at least a moment before moving on the next.
Accept your own stamp of approval
Learn to accept your own validation as the highest honour. You don’t need constant praise and recognition from external sources if you see your own validation as the holy grail. This act of self-respect will help you develop a higher level of self-worth
Reframe the thoughts
When the wicked inner critic tells you that you are not good enough, not clever enough, a fraud, reframe the thought to the positive opposite. Repeat this opposite several times so to drown out the inner critic and train the unconscious mind to think differently.
Get cool with being vulnerable
This is the ultimate superpower for those suffering with imposter syndrome. Be comfortable with asking for help or saying, ‘I don’t know’. Share your insecurities and how you feel. You don’t have to have all the answers and you certainly don’t have to be perfect. Your vulnerability is your secret weapon. Use it.
This article was featured in Healthy Magazine in Nov 18 – I love that my writing is getting out there.
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