What is Imposter Syndrome and how can you beat it?

 Erin   November 22, 2019  Career Advice

Imposter Syndrome is a psychological phenomenon whereby a person has serious doubts about their accomplishments. It’s an inability to believe that what you have achieved is due to you and not some form of “luck” or misunderstanding. If you have Imposter Syndrome, you may feel that your success is not truly “yours,” and you may dread being uncovered as the fraud you believe you are.

Can you relate?

Have you achieved success and for a while, felt like it wasn’t deserved? Have you ever got a new job and felt out of your depth and a fraud for being in that position? I know I have.

When I first started working for myself as a Careers Coach, I felt like a total fake, even though I had been doing the job confidently as an employee for many years. I felt uncomfortable charging people for my time and had such low confidence in my abilities. For a while, I was surprised and anxious when people wanted my services. It was only over time and through positive feedback from clients that I realised this wasn’t true at all. My success was due to my abilities and wasn’t just “luck.”

Imposter Syndrome is incredibly common, with more than 70% of people experiencing it at some time. Even great minds like Albert Einstein and talent like Meryl Streep may have suffered from Imposter Syndrome.

What are the results of Imposter Syndrome?

If we let Imposter Syndrome get the better of us, it can have a significant effect on our growth and development. Symptoms can show up as a high level of stress, a loss of confidence, a fear of failure, and severe anxiety, which can prevent us from moving forward with anything new or challenging.

To overcome Imposter Syndrome, it’s very important that we can internalize our accomplishments and celebrate them, challenge limiting beliefs, and show off our strengths.

When you next feel like Imposter Syndrome is creeping in, ask yourself these questions:

What successes have I had in the past that prove I can do this task?

Often, Imposter Syndrome is simply ignoring or refusing to acknowledge our achievements. To answer this question, make a real or mental list of all the things you’ve achieved, as well as the skills and qualities you have that drove you to this success. This will help you see that it isn’t just luck that got you to where you are. You have real, tangible proof.

Which beliefs about success are holding me back?

Do you have limiting beliefs about yourself and your abilities? To answer this question, think about your beliefs around success. Ask yourself what you think you need to be/do to be successful. Are these beliefs stopping you from recognizing your success? For example, do you believe you need a certain qualification that you don’t have to be a success in your job? Is this really the case? Challenge your beliefs and lose those that aren’t serving you.

What are my strengths?

Often, Imposter Syndrome causes us to focus on our weaknesses rather than our strengths. Thinking about all that you’re good at can help counteract this. Take 5 minutes to brainstorm all of your strengths.

Am I really a fraud or is this just a passing insecurity?

I’m sure you already know the answer to this, but it’s important that you acknowledge that you’re feeling insecurity and own that, rather than look for reasons to “prove” that you are an imposter. Realize that everyone has moments where they are low in confidence and that you are not alone. In light of your accomplishments, accept that your insecurities are not facts, and you’ll be able to take steps to change your thinking.

About the Author: Nikki Vivian is a Career Coach and owner of From Kids to Career, which was set up to support women who are returning to a career, or looking to move in a new direction after taking time out to raise a family. Nikki works with Mums to find their true passions and to re-build confidence that can be lost after a break from the workplace. She believes passionately that being a parent does not put you at the bottom of the pile when it comes to your career. Nikki owns CV writing company Confident CV and has 8 years’ experience working in Careers for Cardiff University.

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