What Is Imposter Syndrome & How to Overcome It
Self-doubt is an unfortunately common experience, but our minds sometimes take it to the extreme. If you have imposter syndrome, you might be convinced that you’re not qualified for your job or that you don’t belong in your workplace. Even if you succeed at your projects and receive positive feedback from your boss, you can’t shake the feeling that you’re a fraud. You tell yourself that your colleagues will eventually realize that you’re incompetent and that your accomplishments aren’t meaningful.
Imposter syndrome can feel incredibly isolating, but many people struggle with it. However, because it plays such confusing tricks on your mind, you might not even realize that you have imposter syndrome. If you have constant feelings of inadequacy or self-doubt, especially regarding your job, you should understand what imposter syndrome is and how you can overcome it.
What Is Imposter Syndrome?
Imposter syndrome is a strong belief that you don’t have the skills, knowledge, or experience to back up your role. When you have imposter syndrome, you have become convinced that your accomplishments are undeserved, and you tend to downplay your successes. You might feel like you’re only pretending to fulfill your role, so you’re terrified that others will notice that you’re a fraud.
Researchers used to believe that imposter syndrome primarily affected accomplished women, but newer studies show that anyone can struggle with imposter syndrome. While it often affects an individual’s beliefs about their career, it could also affect your opinion of yourself as a student, parent, or any other type of role.
Signs You Have Imposter Syndrome
Recognizing imposter syndrome in yourself can be very difficult. Because you become so thoroughly convinced of your own inadequacy, you may reject the idea that your worries come entirely from your own self-doubt. Recognizing your imposter syndrome is the first step toward overcoming it.
The following are some of the most common signs and symptoms of imposter syndrome:
- • You feel like a fraud at work or at school.
- • You don’t think you have the qualifications to perform your job.
- • You attribute your accomplishments to luck.
- • You worry that your colleagues or supervisors will realize that you don’t know what you’re doing.
- • You hesitate to apply for promotions or seek out other opportunities.
- • You diminish your own successes but focus on your failures.
- • You don’t believe people are sincere when they compliment you.
- • You’re a perfectionist and believe that you’re never good enough.
Overcoming Imposter Syndrome
Imposter syndrome can be an extremely painful and difficult experience. Your negative thoughts may follow you around all day, preventing you from embracing the opportunities that you’ve earned. Breaking free from imposter syndrome is the only way to achieve true peace of mind.
4 Tips for Overcoming Imposter Syndrome
1. Separate your emotions from the facts.
Our emotions are typically a response to the situation around us, but when you have imposter syndrome, your emotions may instead result from your harmful or unhelpful beliefs about yourself. One of the best ways to combat your doubtful thoughts is to separate how you feel from what’s really going on.
Being an objective observer of your own experiences is very difficult, but it can also provide a lot of clarity when you’re battling imposter syndrome. When something triggers a doubtful or self-critical belief, try to think about only the facts that you’re certain of. Don’t assume that someone is thinking something negative about you or that something bad will happen in the future. Your mind will make plenty of assumptions about the situation, but focusing solely on the facts can stop you from entering an anxious thought spiral.
2. Highlight your accomplishments.
If you have imposter syndrome, you probably downplay all of your successes and fixate instead on your failures. You may believe that you didn’t earn your accomplishments and that your achievements result from luck. However, you are just as responsible for your successes as you are for your challenges.
Simply noticing when you’ve made an achievement may not be enough to fight off your self-doubting thoughts. Because it’s so easy to dismiss your wins, you have to intentionally and thoughtfully call attention to them. When you succeed, take a moment to feel pride in your accomplishment. Think about the hard work you put into the task and how this experience will continue to benefit you. Journaling can be an especially helpful way to celebrate your successes because it provides a written record of your positive experiences.
3. Avoid comparisons.
Comparing yourself to your peers and colleagues almost never produces positive results. One of the most common challenges for people with imposter syndrome is feeling like you don’t measure up to those around you. It’s impossible to fairly and accurately compare yourself with someone else, though. While you know every aspect of your own life and your own mind, you only see from your peers what they decide to show you.
Avoiding comparison is difficult when it’s become a mental habit. If you feel the need to compare yourself to someone, try comparing your current self to your past self. Do you know more this year than you did last year? Have your skills improved in the last few months? Are you making consistent progress toward your goals?
4. Talk to a therapist.
Sometimes, negative self-talk becomes so ingrained in your mind that you may need professional support from a therapist to break free from these beliefs. Therapy is a valuable resource for overcoming imposter syndrome because it provides an opportunity to speak with a neutral figure about your experiences and concerns.
Recognizing your own unhelpful or harmful beliefs about yourself can be extremely challenging. Your therapist will help you explore your thought processes so that you can gain more insight into your beliefs. Then, you and your therapist can discuss methods to replace your negative thoughts with positive, constructive ones. Therapy doesn’t produce overnight change, but it can help you gain a heightened sense of self-awareness that will continue to benefit you for the rest of your life.
Menachem Psychotherapy Group provides mental health therapy for individuals with imposter syndrome, anxiety, low self-esteem, and many other challenges. If you’re ready to overcome your self-doubt through therapy, our counselors are happy to help. You can contact us today to schedule an appointment with a therapist in Los Angeles.