What is imposter syndrome?
Imposter syndrome (also called Impostor Complex, Imposter Phenomenon, the Imposter Cycle, and Fraud Syndrome) is defined as feeling unworthy, inadequate, and incompetent, despite all the evidence showing otherwise.
And a thing with impostor syndrome is that we think that no one else understands us. That we’re alone feeling like frauds. But according to this study, up to 70% of us get impostor syndrome at some point in our life. That’s quite a lot of people.
So why doesn’t anyone talk about imposter syndrome?
Imposter syndrome can often be mistaken for self-doubt, a lack of self-esteem, anxiety, or depression. Because of this, there are a lot of really incredible men and women out there that don’t feel worthy or good enough, despite that they are.
I’ve almost always felt like I was bluffing, that I at any point would be exposed as a fraud. But even though I’ve never been exposed, I still often feel like an imposter.
Because what can I do that someone else isn’t better at? And why should anyone pay me for something when there clearly is someone else better equipped for the job?
I know. It can be crazy difficult to find confidence in your own ability and see the true worth in your skills and knowledge. Because of that, it’s important that you, when you feel doubt and anxiety creeping in, learn how to manage your imposter syndrome.
I want you to feel as powerful, amazing and capable as you actually are.
And how do you manage that?
You start by acknowledging your situation so that you can recognize early signs of imposter syndrome – and then you learn how to overcome it. Down here I’ll teach how to do all of those things.
7 Imposter syndrome types
I’m a fraud
It feels like you are tricking your customers/coworkers. You don’t think your capable of the things you’ve told them you are. You feel like a fraud. This is the most common type, and some or all signs can be found in all of the types of imposter syndrome.
You don’t feel like you deserve their attention, someone else is better equipped. You’re simply not that knowing that you’ve led others to believe.
Others helped me
You didn’t succeed thanks to you, you succeeded thanks to everyone else. You feel uncomfortable saying thanks and taking credit for the work you’ve done.
It doesn’t matter if you did 99% of the work, it’s that 1% that made it perfect. You really didn’t do anything special. You don’t deserve any compliments because others helped you. You’d be nothing without help.
Failure isn’t an option
You’re a perfectionist. If it’s not perfect it’s not good enough. If you’re not 110% satisfied others will realize that your not worthy or good enough.
You’re the one who just needs to do one more thing, because there’s always room for improvement. If it isn’t perfect you feel ashamed and guilty for not accomplishing better. Because failure isn’t an option.
I was just lucky
When someone acknowledges your success you describe it as luck. Because of this, you’re afraid of having to repeat things twice. Because that would mean being lucky twice, and that’s almost impossible.
Nothing was thanks to your knowledge or skills, you were just in the right place at the right time. Anyone could have succeeded, you weren’t the important factor in the equation. You were just lucky.
I’m just like everyone else
As with luck, you feel that you were just in the right place at the right time. There isn’t anything special with you or your skills. You’re just like anyone else, anyone could have done the things you did.
You don’t acknowledge your own skills, because you don’t see anything that makes your knowledge different from someone else’s. Because of this, you don’t embrace new opportunities and you have difficulty seeing your worth.
I’m the only one who struggles
In contrast to the feeling that you’re just like everyone else some think they are special. That they are the only one who struggles and that everyone else has figured everything out.
From your perspective, everyone else is experts who have mastered their skills, and you’re a failure that struggles to catch up. Others in your field seem to work effortlessly while you can’t stop bumping into obstacles.
I must do it by myself
You find it hard to accept, or ask for, help as it would mean that you aren’t capable to do it on your own. Even tho you might need assistance you don’t ask others as that might make you look unprofessional or stupid.
You’re afraid that others will think that you aren’t good enough and that they might judge you if you can’t do everything by yourself.
Do you recognize yourself in one or more of the types? I know I do.
Here are the most common signs that you have imposter syndrome. If any of them fits you, be sure to read the next section which is all about how to overcome imposter syndrome.
13 signs that you suffer from imposter syndrome
1. You can’t take compliments
2. You worry constantly
Both day and night you worry and feel anxious. Did you make the right choice? What if they don’t like your work? What if you’ve misunderstood the assignment? What if they’ll be disappointed?
3. You overwork yourself
4. You dwell on what you haven’t done
5. You self sabotage
You don’t believe that you’re good enough so you don’t even bother to do your best. You think that your best wouldn’t be good enough anyway.
6. You credit others for your work
7. You decline raises
8. You assume it’s easy for others
9. You give up before you try
10. You want it to come naturally
You think that everything comes naturally and that everything that doesn’t is impossible and not meant for you. If you’re not a professional after a short amount of time then you see yourself as a failure.
11. You won’t accept help
12. You use minimizing language
13. You think that others lie to you
You have difficulties believing in compliments and rather think that others are lying to you to not hurt your feelings.
You must remember that none of these feelings are accurate and that you are much more capable and worthy than you feel.
So, how do you overcome these feelings so that you can be as happy and successful as you should?
9 ways to overcome Imposter syndrome
1. Acknowledge your feelings
The most important thing you can do is to acknowledge and accept your feelings, for what they are – which is fake. No problem can be solved if it’s not first recognized.
If you figure out why you feel like an imposter it’s easier to know how to get past it. You can’t cure something if you don’t know what causes the pain.
So start setting words to you feelings, what is it more exactly that gets you anxious, stressed or insecure? And when you know, you can start to process these things to become secure and confident again.
2. Talk about it with others
Often when we feel like imposters we also feel alone, like no one knows who we feel. But as I said before, 70% of us will at one point feel these feelings. So actually, you’re not alone in your feelings.
Talking about it with others can ease your feelings and even get you to once again recognize your skills. Sometimes the only thing we need is to see the situation from another perspective, and getting someone else’s perspective can help you with just that.
3. Seek professional help
When you feel like you don’t know how to handle your feelings it can be helpful to talk to someone professional. They know how you feel, and they know the best tools for you to overcome it.
It’s important to take your feelings seriously and prioritize your own physical and mental health. And even tho you feel like you are the expert on you, you wouldn’t try to heal yourself if you broke your leg, right?
So, if you find it hard to overcome imposter syndrome by yourself, talk to someone with expertise in the area.
4. Get educated
Imposter syndrome is often caused by a feeling of not being good enough or worthy enough. So how do you fix that? You make sure you know enough – you get educated.
So, the next time you feel insecure or like a fraud – just learn the stuff you feel like you don’t know enough about. Then you’ll actually be the expert.
5. Practice gratefulness
Often when we feel like frauds we focus on the things that we are not or haven’t done yet. And it’s no wonder that we feel insecure and anxious when we focus on the things we haven’t achieved instead of all the things that we’ve accomplished.
The best way to change this is to make ourselves conscious of our achievements and of how far we’ve already come. We must remember to be grateful for where we are right now, to celebrate how long we’ve already traveled.
To do that, try to say five things your grateful for every day. Write them down or say them aloud, it’s up to you. Just be honest and sincere.
6. Celebrate success
When we feel like frauds or impostors we often have difficulties celebrating achievements and success. Because of this, it’s even more important that you high five yourself when you’ve completed tasks or checked of goals. You need to learn to be proud of yourself and be grateful for your accomplishments.
One way to do this is to practice charing your successes with others. Get in the habit of bragging (humble) to the people closest to you. Not in an obnoxious way, but in a way that lets you know that you’re proud of yourself. Don’t be afraid of celebrating victories – they’re meant to be celebrated.
7. Challenge negative thoughts
When you feel insecure or like a fraud, even tho you know you aren’t, you likely hold negative beliefs about yourself or your environment. One example could be “everyone just says nice things to spare my feelings” or “I can’t attract money”.
We all have beliefs that guide us in life, both negative and positive. Now I want you to challenge your negative thoughts. So, collect all of your negative beliefs and rephrase them.
I use the example from before. So, instead of thinking “everyone just says nice things to spare my feelings” I want you to repeat “I get praise because they appreciate my good work”.
8. Accept praise
Instead of hiding from compliments and praise – embrace them. Accept that you’ve done a great job, smile and say thank you. You deserve to get compliments for hard work.
No matter how awkward or uncomfortable it feels, strive to get more. Strive to be proud of your work instead of ashamed or overly conscious. And sometimes this means fake it until you make it. Pretend that you love compliments – and at some point, you will realize that you do.
9. Accept perfectionism as impossible
If you have impostor syndrome it’s more than likely that you’ve put too high expectations on yourself. These high expectations make you feel like a failure unless you do it perfectly. And you know what – nothing ever gets that perfect.
So, to suppress your need to get it perfect you need to accept that perfectionism is impossible. Because when you’ve reached the level which you think is perfect you always gonna find that it isn’t.
This will lead you on an endless chase with a constant feeling of failure and dissatisfaction. So accepting the imperfect as perfect will bring you a lot more joy and fulfillment.
Now I hope that you feel more in control of your feelings and that you know that you’re not alone. With these tools and tips, I hope that you’re now on your way to a more satisfied and happy you. Because you should be proud of yourself and your accomplishment – nothing should have the power to take that away from you.
And my final question – have you had impostor syndrome? What was your experience and what helped you get back on track?
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