It’s not a recognised psychological condition, but many people claim to have suffered from impostor syndrome at some point in their careers.
According to a Journal of General Internal Medicine study, up to 82% of people in the group said they felt feelings of fraud or unworthiness about their position and/or skills.
That’s a massive number for a condition that isn’t officially recognised, don’t you think?
I’m not immune.
I procrastinated for three years about putting together my WP Accelerator course because I felt I wasn’t qualified to teach other WordPress designers or developers how to run a business.
Despite its official lack of recognition, imposter syndrome is real.
What Is Imposter Syndrome?
It’s the sense you get when you feel unqualified to do something, usually related to teaching or skills transfer.
The internal voice in your head whispers questions of doubt, such as.
“I’m not qualified to teach that, right?“
“Is what I’m doing fraudulent?“
“What if somebody calls me out?“
And, you start to get that butterfly nauseous feeling in your stomach caused by stress.
The fraudulent feeling is self-imposed, usually by high-skilled, high-achieving. talented and otherwise competent business professionals who do deserve the praise and talents they have worked so hard to achieve.
Recognising the Signs Of Imposter Syndrome
Recognising the signs of imposter syndrome is the first step to beating it.
Some common characteristics of imposter syndrome include:
- You negatively criticise your performance.
- You self-doubt yourself.
- You set impossibly high goals and standards and then feel disappointed when they are not met.
- You find it difficult to accept praise for deserved achievements.
- You fear that you won’t live up to others’ expectations.
- You are fearful of failure.
- You feel you “got lucky” to get where you are and what you have achieved.
If you have done or felt anything like the above, you could have experienced imposter syndrome but couldn’t understand what was happening or put a name to it.
5 Strategies To Help Beat Imposter Syndrome
Once you know the signs of imposter syndrome, you can start implementing steps to beat it.
1. Self Reflect On The Language You Use
Be aware of your language when talking about yourself and what you say to others, including your responses when receiving praise for your achievements.
If you feel uneasy with praise from others, it’s time to spend some quiet time self-reflecting on what about the credit made you feel uncomfortable.
Some things to reflect on could be:
- What steps did you follow to get where you are right now?
- Has this happened to you before, and how did you deal with it then?
- Have your circumstances changed recently?
- Is there anything stressing you out just now?
2. You Are Not Your Thoughts
I love the following quote.
“You are not your thoughts.“
This is very true. We use our thoughts to plan our actions, but thoughts alone don’t make us who we are.
Recognising and challenging negative thoughts when they arise is an essential skill in your toolkit for beating imposter syndrome.
3. Understanding To Err Is Human
Another quote I like to remind myself of when I’m dealing with this subject is:
“To err is human.“
This is a quote from Alexander Pope’s poem An Essay on Criticism.
The quote is fitting because it reminds me that we all make mistakes, which is OK.
Many people suffering from imposter syndrome fear making mistakes or for those mistakes to be pointed out.
At the same time, they set impossible high-bar goals, almost forcing them to make the mistakes they fear.
Let go of your perfectionism.
We all have faults, and we all make mistakes from time to time; that is how we learn and move forward.
4. Share Your Feelings
Keeping any negative feelings to yourself can be damaging to your well-being.
If you are feeling down, try sharing your feelings with a loved one or a trusted colleague.
They probably won’t be able to offer a solution, but they can listen.
Just being able to share your feelings with another person can feel like a weight being lifted off your shoulders.
Sometimes talking about your feelings can offer insight into avenues of exploration you may not have previously considered.
If you feel your negative feelings harm your well-being, please seek professional and confidential counselling.
5. Accept Imposter Syndrome & Move Forward
You’ll unlikely get rid of the unwanted feelings imposter syndrome brings overnight or tame the beast entirely.
It can take weeks and months to work through, unwind and address the underlying issues causing you to feel like this.
While working through the issues and putting these strategies into action may help to minimise the feelings associated with imposter syndrome or go for long periods where it’s not present, it’s essential to bear in mind that it can pop up again at any time.
A myriad of situations could cause you to flip back into that self-doubt mode; however, as you get better at recognising it is happening and challenging those negative thoughts, being able to accept it, apply your strategies and move forward will be vital in your ability to fight imposter syndrome.
If you’d like to learn more about imposter syndrome, I would highly recommend reading the book “Own Your Greatness: Overcome Impostor Syndrome, Beat Self-Doubt, and Succeed in Life” by Dr. Lisa Orbé-Austin and Dr. Richard Orbé-Austin.
And also, the journal “Impostor Feelings and Psychological Distress Among Asian Americans: Interpersonal Shame and Self-Compassion” by Wei, M., et al.
If imposter syndrome affects your ability to move forward in your life or affects your productivity, first, recognise that you are not alone.
Second, consider implementing strategies I’ve outlined in this article and those in the further reading section.
Best of luck in your journey to beat imposter syndrome! 💪