What Is Imposter Syndrome And How Can You Beat It?

Ever had the feeling that you don’t deserve the success you have? Well, you’re not alone and there’s a name for it: Imposter Syndrome.

Whether it creeps up from time to time or is a constant and persistent feeling in the back of your mind, I thought I’d help you name and tame your imposter syndrome and how you can kick it to the kerb for good!

So, what is imposter syndrome?

Imposter syndrome is defined as a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist even in face of information that indicates the opposite.

As a result, you can have all the objective evidence in the world that you’re good at your job and still feel like an imposter. You may think you are being “too ambitious” or “ambitious for no reason.” If this sounds familiar, there’s one major way to beat it:

I think this TED Talk sums it up pretty well.

Feel like a fraud?

Imposter syndrome is a feeling that you don’t deserve the success you’ve achieved. You often feel like a fraud, as though you’re going to be “found out” and shown to be incompetent.

You can recognize imposter syndrome in yourself when:

  • You have an overwhelming fear of failure or rejection
  • You’re highly self-critical and always think that something is wrong with your work or behaviour
  • You feel like other people are better at what they do than you are (even if others compliment your work)

Everyone deals with imposter syndrome, so it is important to have strategies to manage it.

It’s important to remember that everyone deals with imposter syndrome at some point. Whether you are an entry-level marketer, a CEO of an ASX-listed company, or an executive at the White House, we have all felt like we don’t belong from time to time. This feeling is completely normal.

However, it is crucial for everyone to have strategies for managing this feeling of inadequacy. If you are experiencing imposter syndrome on a regular basis and find yourself unable to function professionally or personally because of it, I suggest seeing your doctor right away and getting help from someone who can provide support and guidance through this difficult period. 

Perfectionism and imposter syndrome 

Perfectionism may also contribute to imposter syndrome – both those who set excessively high goals for themselves and people who value perfectionism in others are prone to it. It has been noted that people with a strong need for achievement have a heightened sense of personal failure because they are more likely to interpret their own errors as signs of being an imposter.

It’s easy to see how this could happen: if you strive for perfection, every error is another sign that you’re not good enough or skilled enough to be worthy of your success. 

When it comes down to it, there’s no reason why we should expect ourselves or anyone else to always be perfect at everything we do all the time. The key is finding the balance between striving toward excellence while still accepting our humanity — warts and all!

Imposter syndrome has been linked to stress, anxiety, depression, and decision-making difficulties.

People with imposter syndrome may experience stress and anxiety as a result of their fear of being unmasked. This can lead to depression, difficulty making decisions and other mental health problems. 

There’s no shame in addressing these feelings with your manager, HR department, GP or mental health professional to help you work through these feelings. If you’re feeling a little nervous, you can look into phoning organisations like Lifeline and have a confidential chat.

Mentors and Imposter Syndrome

Mentors are great for helping you see the bigger picture. When mentees are struggling to feel confident in their abilities, a mentor can help them see where they stand among their peers and what skills they do have. This can help alleviate feelings of imposter syndrome and make them feel more comfortable admitting when they don’t know something.

Keep a brag book

Often we ignore the good feedback we receive and instead allow the areas we need more work on to occupy space in our minds. One thing I do is have a folder in my inbox where I store all positive feedback I receive and refer back to it when I’m having a tough day.

I also note down all the wins (big or small) I achieve and this is a quick refresher to cure me of my doubts that may creep in.

Imposter syndrome is a common problem that can affect anyone who feels like an outsider. The good news is that there are many ways to fight imposter syndrome, so there’s no need to feel like you’re a fraud who will be uncovered any moment now. Reach out to the people in your support network and chat through your feelings, chatting to a mentor and keep a brag book are all effective ways to rid yourself of imposter syndrome. If you were a fraud, you wouldn’t have reached where you have today, so stop being your harshest critic and be proud of everything you’ve achieved!

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