How do I beat Imposter syndrome?
Ever felt like you don’t belong? Like you don’t really deserve to be where you are? Maybe you feel like people overestimate your abilities or as though you only got where you are due to chance and you could be exposed at any moment?
Whether you feel that way most of the time or just now and again in moments of doubt following a bad day, the good news is… YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
This is commonly described as Imposter syndrome and the good news is: it’s entirely normal to feel that way and entirely possible to overcome those feelings.
The first step to beating it is understanding it.
Overcoming imposter syndrome is easier when you understanding it. Imposter syndrome may not be the best name for it as calling it a syndrome implies that it’s far rarer than it actually is. Impostor syndrome is a very common experience different studies vary on the number of people affected one study showed that it impacts two thirds of women in the UK but that was just focused on the working environment where some people may not be concerned as much by how people view them as other situations. The key thing is, no matter what study you look at it is extremely common.
It is natural to have doubts about our own abilities. Imposter syndrome has been shown to affect all varieties of industry including those getting onto exclusive courses at respected universities and call centre employees.
Where does it come from?
A subconscious desire for survival encourages us to hold ourselves back and keep within our comfort zone where we feel safe and secure. Historically, keeping in line with our role within a tribe is much safer than trying to break free and achieve bigger and better things. So we are programmed for our survival to desire to stay consistent even when that consistency is holding us back from greatness. The problem with staying within our comfort zone means that we are not growing and if we’re not growing much like water that doesn’t flow we stagnate.
Imposter syndrome is partly influenced by that desire to hold ourselves back and tendency to avoid inconsistency.
Why is it a good thing?
If you are experiencing imposter syndrome. If you feel like you’re not deserving of your position or achievements the chances are this is an indicator that you’re actually doing something right.
Yes, you read that right, it’s good to feel this way, because it often means you are challenging yourself, developing new skills and achieving something more than you would achieve if you stayed within your comfort zone.
When you’re good at what you do it’s easy to undervalue it when you’re experienced or knowledgeable enough that your work feels relatively easy it’s easy for that to impact your perception of the value such work holds. It’s easy to assume that ‘everyone can do it’ and reinforce beliefs that you aren’t as good as others say you are.
If something feels so easy that anyone can do it that’s probably because you’re on your way to mastering it!
If things feel particularly difficult it likely means that you are doing something new, stretching yourself and achieving more than you are used to.
How does this help?
Now that you know that feeling that way is a sign that you’re doing something right, you are able to take a step back when you feel that way. Realise that it’s just one ‘part of your mind’ which is trying to protect you, creating that doubt. By recognising that, it then becomes easier to accept those feelings and embrace the excitement you are no doubt feeling at the same time (which may have been hidden by the fear and doubt).
So next time you experience a situation where you feel like you aren’t good enough, stop. Breathe. And smile, knowing that it’s a sign that you are doing exactly what you should be doing. Each time you feel that way and choose to embrace it, it becomes easier to react positively and achieve even more next time.
If you or anyone you know has larger issues with belief, confidence and self-esteem you may like to get in touch to find out how Mind Affinity can help you to stop beating yourself up and start building yourself up instead.
Here's a 10 minute video of me presenting about imposter syndrome, recorded live on facebook to a business networking group: