How to Overcome Imposter Syndrome

How to Overcome Imposter Syndrome

“I still sometimes feel like a loser kid in high school and I just have to pick myself up and tell myself that I’m a superstar every morning so that I can get through this day and be for my fans what they need for me to be.”

Lady Gaga

A lot of us have been there, that uncomfortable feeling spreading across us, those niggling doubts, that voice in our heads that says, ‘what are you doing here, you’re way out of your league.’ Or when you’re presenting, ‘those people giggling over there, they’re laughing at how terrible you are.’ Or for a lot of us, ‘You’re going to get found out’ and even ‘do I belong?’

Feel familiar?

It’s imposter syndrome, or imposter feelings. We define imposter syndrome as the feeling that other people have an inflated perception of your abilities, fear that your true abilities will be discovered and a persistent tendency to attribute successes to external factors such as luck.

“No matter what we’ve done, there comes a point where you think, ‘How did I get here? When are they going to discover that I am, in fact, a fraud and take everything away from me?’ ”

Tom Hanks

Well, first of all, you’re not alone. Over 70% of professionals get these imposter feelings and both men and women are affected by those of us doing our day-to-day jobs, all the way up to superstars such as Lady Gaga, Tom Hanks, Awkwafina, Maisie Williams and Michelle Obama.

Perhaps you don’t look like those around you? Imposter syndrome is more common in minority groups with women of colour being impacted significantly.

Is your imposter syndrome telling you that you’re not doing a good job? Let’s reframe that thought, imposter syndrome tends to affect those high performers, high achievers, and low achievers are rarely affected.

What can we do to help overcome imposter syndrome?

There are plenty of steps to take which can help:

  • Talk to your colleagues, family, and friends about it, the knowledge that you all experience or have perhaps experienced imposter syndrome at some point means that it won’t have as much power and those feelings of inadequacy are irrational.
  • If those imposter feelings start to appear, you can give it a weird voice, or a name, and tell it to shut up and go away. These are feelings rather than actual facts so they’re not real.
  • Adopt a mindfulness technique of noting, so if those feelings appear, take a moment to notice them and say ‘I notice imposter syndrome and it’s okay’, note it, and move on.
  • Start to recognise your strengths and achievements and praise yourself when things go well. If you receive praise or a compliment, then accept and enjoy! Also, think about how your experience, expertise, qualifications, and effort have got you to where you are now.

“I still have a little [bit of] imposter syndrome, it never goes away, that you’re actually listening to me.

It doesn’t go away, that feeling that you shouldn’t take me that seriously. What do I know? I share that with you because we all have doubts in our abilities, about our power and what that power is.

If I’m giving people hope then that is a responsibility, so I have to make sure that I am accountable”

Michelle Obama

Finally, accept that reaching perfection is impossible and there’s nothing wrong with making a mistake or failing when you try something; it’s all a natural part of learning. People are often willing to give you help if asked and remember that no one is perfect!

We all have different perceptions of success and perfection. Everyone around us sees perfection differently so one person’s failure may be another person’s success, as we all have different goals.

Remember, everyone feels like an imposter sometimes, and that’s okay.

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