Almost everyone has had the feeling they are “Faking it until they make it,” or “Going along to get along.” We’ve all been new at a job or learning a new skill, and it can feel like we’re not good enough as we struggle to learn everything we need to know. However, if you find yourself feeling like this constantly and you never seem to gain confidence in your abilities, you may be dealing with imposter syndrome. In this blog, we’re going to unpack exactly what this phrase means and provide some of our top tips for dealing with imposter syndrome.
What Is Imposter Syndrome?
Imposter syndrome is a belief that you are unworthy or incapable of performing tasks even when you have received education and training related to these tasks. In fact, those who experience imposter syndrome are often high achievers. Unfortunately, their desire to maintain a reputation for high achieving may lead them to avoid admitting when they don’t know something wrong or asking for help when they need it. This can increase beliefs that they are imposters as they are hiding a need for support. The source of these feelings is often negative self-talk and being stuck in thought patterns that devalue capabilities. In many cases, imposter syndrome is thought of as being only related to professional identities, but people can also experience a feeling of being an imposter in academic, familial, and personal settings.
1 – Recognize Unrealistic Expectations
Imposter syndrome often stems from perfectionistic thinking and setting unrealistic expectations. In order to start recognizing unrealistic expectations you’re holding for yourself, think about applying these expectations to other people. For instance, if a peer in your job had the same task to complete, would you think the other person had done well? Would your boss think this person had met expectations? If the answer to both questions is yes, why would you need to meet higher expectations? The goal of this exercise is to recognize when you’re expecting more from yourself than you do of others, and perhaps more importantly, you’re expecting more than others expect from you. Once you notice these unrealistic expectations, you can start to adjust them.
2 – Celebrate Successes
Failure to recognize and celebrate successes can feed into feelings of imposter syndrome. As people, we are more likely to hold onto negative or painful thoughts and emotions than the ones that bring us enjoyment. It’s important to allow yourself to truly celebrate successes. When you accomplish something important (or even something small), take time to really hold onto those feelings and enjoy them.
3 – Don’t Undersell Yourself
Another underpinning of imposter syndrome is the misconception that failure isn’t allowed. Anytime something doesn’t go exactly right the first time, the individual believes they’re an imposter. Being able to try something new, even if we fail, is how we learn and grow as people. You’d be surprised what you’re capable of, but you’ll never find out if you don’t give yourself permission to try even if you fail.
4 – Be Kind to Yourself but Embrace the Discomfort
Imposter syndrome may leave you feeling uncomfortable if you let it, but you can embrace that discomfort and use it to grow. Being uncomfortable or worried about your ability to succeed can spur you to work harder and achieve more than you expected. Listen to feelings of discomfort or lack of confidence and respond to them by seeking out opportunities to learn and grow. Whether that means taking a class, exploring professional development opportunities, or
asking a trusted peer to serve as a mentor, find opportunities to help you increase your confidence.
5 – Talk to a Therapist
April is Counseling Awareness Month. This moth is used to raise awareness of the many benefits possible when you work with counselors. When it comes to managing imposter
syndrome, a therapist can be an important resource in overcoming this concern and the anxieties and stresses that come along with it. A therapist can help you to reframe your
thinking, challenge the validity of negative thought patterns, and start feeling an increased sense of confidence and self-worth. If you’re interested in getting started working with a
therapist, the Lotus Psychology Group team would like to hear from you. You can reach out to us by calling (248) 957-8973, emailing our admin team at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by completing our online scheduling form.