10 Ways to Overcome Imposter Syndrome - 2020
Do you ever feel like a fraud and that you are going to be found out? And do you put your own successes down to luck or some other means – rather than your own doing? Or do you doubt, discount or feel undeserving of your achievements?
If you answered yes to any of those questions, it’s possible that you are suffering from imposter syndrome, which usually affects successful individuals with high IQ’s, so you are in good company!
So, what can you do about it?
1. Awareness and Acceptance
As with any changes you are wanting to make in life, the first step is awareness. Just noticing and acknowledging it with curiosity is really helpful. If you are then able to accept it for what it is, even better (I know – acceptance is HARD!). Sometimes, though, that is all that’s needed to make a massive leap forward. Acceptance can help to make something you think is a problem, simply evaporate. But it all starts with awareness, as this is the key to making changes.
2. Talk to Someone
Speaking about imposter syndrome takes away the shame that accompanies it. It can be incredibly freeing to open up and understand that it affects a huge percentage of people – even, and especially people who are at the top of their game. Opening up to a mentor, friend or coach about this can provide clarity and relief – especially if that person has experienced imposter syndrome themselves. Being vulnerable, speaking about your shame, not hiding it and acknowledging it can often be enough to evaporate it. Going a step further and being curious and playful with it is even more powerful. Try and let go of any ego that is trying to get in the way of this – it is not helpful! Sure, it takes courage to be vulnerable and talk about it, but you will reap the rewards.
Self-compassion is so important. For some reason we are really hard on ourselves as human beings. If you can practice being kind to yourself instead of beating yourself up, you will feel so different. I recommend watching Dr. Kristin Neff’s Ted Talk to learn more about the scientific evidence of being self-compassionate, and if you like what you hear, then I highly recommend her book (“Self-Compassion: stop beating yourself up and leave insecurity behind”). It isn’t self-indulgence, like some people may think. Instead it is a very powerful way to treat yourself, talk to yourself and relate to yourself that can really help with many things; imposter syndrome being one of them.
4. Normal Human-Being
Know that it’s part of being human: it’s completely normal. Whilst not everyone will suffer from imposter syndrome, you are not alone. Around 70% of women and 50% of men feel like frauds at times. You are not broken, and you don’t need fixing. It is simply something that many human beings face in life. And it’s okay to feel this way. There are so many incredible accomplished people out there who suffer from imposter syndrome. For example: Maya Angelou, Michelle Obama, Tina Fey, Meryl Streep to mention just a few. Just because you only have access to your own mind and insecurities and anxieties, and you only see the confident exterior of other people, doesn’t mean that they don’t have their own insecurities and anxieties. They may be different ones than you have, but they have them, nonetheless.
5. The 3 ‘No’s’
Avoid the 3 big ‘No’s’: Perfectionism, Comparison and Judgement. They really get in the way and I believe they are the root cause of unhappiness and imposter syndrome. Each of these has an antidote. For perfectionism, it’s being vulnerable and good enough rather than perfect; for comparison, it’s embracing your authentic self and owning who you are, and for judgement, it’s curiosity.
6. Define Your Own Version of Success
Stop worrying what everyone else is doing, or how successful they seem to be. Define your own version of success and not someone else’s. Do your own thing and walk your own path. Embrace it fully and own it. Take into account what success means to you in all areas of your life and acknowledge the combined version – not just one aspect, such as your career. Focus on your own growth and no-one else’s – you can’t do any better than improving on your own results.
7. Embrace Failure
Embrace failure and view it instead as having had the courage to try. We often think of failure as a bad thing, but if you change the way you relate to failure it can change everything. If you view failure as a place to learn from, and are grateful for it, it can be really powerful. At least you had the courage to try something new, or to put yourself out there, and frankly, there is nothing more admirable than that. Failure doesn’t make you a fraud, it simply means that you are human. Everyone messes up from time to time. Learn from your mistakes and move on.
8. Re-Write Your Story
Look at the stories you have about yourself and see where you have made them up. Look at what is true, and what is not true. Where you have made up a story about yourself, make up a new one that is more powerful and choose to believe that one instead. You are the author of your life. Given our stories are made up, we may as well believe the good ones! Write down your successes and when you are feeling like a fake and are no good at what you do, look at the positive feedback you have been given. This will make it easier for you to believe the good stuff. Think about the people you have helped or made a difference to. Review your accomplishments to remind yourself of your successes.
9. Be Playful and Lighthearted!
Don’t take yourself and life too seriously! It’s so easy to get bogged down in our thoughts and to put huge pressure on ourselves. I know I can be guilty of that, but it’s such a relief to have a laugh and allow ourselves to be human and simply stop worrying about what we have achieved and not achieved.
10. Fake it Until You Make it!
If all else fails, then pretend you have it all together! You don’t have to feel confident doing something. Just act like you are. Be courageous and have a go. Take a risk. Start small and build up in size. Each time you step out of your comfort zone, you will be gaining confidence. If you mess up, does it really matter?! We attach so much meaning to everything. Think about what you need to let go of in order to move forward. Once you start taking risks, and they work out, you will start building up your confidence and you will realise you can do anything. Facing your fear head on is really empowering and liberating when you do. You will get a real buzz and be on a high.
Do you have any questions?
I hope you found this helpful. If you have any questions or would like to explore how coaching might be able to help you with imposter syndrome, just get in touch. I'm very happy to have a chat.
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