Have you ever felt like a fraud no matter what you do, how hard you work, or what you achieve? If so, you may have experienced impostor syndrome.
With impostor syndrome, you tend to question your ability and are afraid you’ll be exposed as a fraud at any given moment. When you do accomplish something, you might attribute it to “luck” but never your own talent, skill, knowledge, or preparation.
Most of us have experienced impostor syndrome at some point in our lives, especially right after starting a new job or receiving a promotion. If you’re experiencing it right now, how do you overcome it? Keep reading to find out.
1. Know the signs of impostor syndrome
One of the first steps toward overcoming impostor syndrome is understanding the signs and recognizing your own worth and skill. Symptoms of impostor syndrome include:
- feeling like you “just got lucky” when you achieve something
- finding it hard to accept praise
- apologizing when you didn’t do anything wrong
- holding yourself to high (sometimes impossible) standards
- being paralyzed by the fear of failure
- trying not to exude confidence because you don’t want to appear obnoxious or like you’re bragging
- being convinced you’re not enough
2. Realize that you’re not alone
The fact that there are such a large range of warning signs should tell you something: you’re not the first person to experience impostor syndrome. A lot of people have experienced it at some point in their lives. I don’t know about you, but for me, that’s incredibly comforting to know.
3. Be kind to yourself
You don’t have to be an expert at something on the first day. So cut yourself a break and take some pressure off yourself.
When you’re trying something new, you might hear that annoying, little voice in your head telling you things like “You’re not smart enough” or “You’re a fraud.” This negative self-talk is a bad habit that will increase our anxiety levels and exasperate our impostor syndrome.
When you notice you’re going down that road of negative self-talk, change how you talk to yourself and practice positive self-talk. It will help you build your courage and confidence to try new things.
4. Track & measure your success
When you’re experiencing impostor syndrome, it can be challenging to recognize your role in your own successes. To help remind yourself of everything you’ve done well, keep track of all your wins – no matter how small.
In your job, you might track stats that prove you’re improving and doing well at work. But you can also track your wins in your personal life by jotting down kind words and compliments from others.
Keep a file on your computer or phone of your successes and positive reinforcements. Then, when you’re feeling unsure about yourself, you can review that file and remind yourself how great you are.
5. Avoid comparing yourself to others
Everyone is different and has unique skills and abilities. You are where you are because someone recognized your individual talents and potential. That means you might not excel at something someone else does. And that’s okay. You don’t have to be great at everything because no one can truly “do it all.” Instead of trying to be as good as someone else, focus on exploring ways to develop the skills that genuinely interest you.