Have you ever felt like you don't deserve your success or that you're a fraud who will be exposed at any moment? You may be experiencing imposter syndrome, a psychological pattern that affects many individuals, including high achievers and successful professionals. But why does this happen, and how can you respond to and overcome it? In this blog post, we will explore the what and why of imposter syndrome and provide practical tips to help you overcome self-doubt and achieve your goals.
What is Imposter Syndrome?
Imposter syndrome is a psychological pattern where individuals doubt their abilities and accomplishments, feeling like they are frauds who don't deserve their success. They tend to attribute their successes to external factors, such as luck or timing, rather than their own skills and efforts. As a result, they often feel like they will be exposed as frauds if others find out they are not as competent as they appear.
The Why of Imposter Syndrome
There can be many reasons why individuals experience imposter syndrome. One possible explanation is a discrepancy between their internal standards and their external accomplishments. For example, they may have high expectations for themselves and what they want to achieve, but they may feel like they haven't reached those goals or that they're not good enough.
Another reason is the comparison with others. We tend to compare our internal experience to how competent other people seem on the outside, without realizing that everyone has their struggles and insecurities. It can also be a warning sign that we're feeling directionless and need to reassess our goals. Focusing on not being perfect can be easier than identifying and executing the next step on our personal success path.
How to Respond and Overcome Imposter Syndrome
Overcoming imposter syndrome requires self-reflection, self-awareness, and taking practical steps to build confidence in yourself. Here are some tips to help you respond and overcome imposter syndrome:
Recognize Your Achievements: Take time to reflect on your achievements and give yourself credit for the hard work you've put in. Write them down or share them with a trusted friend or mentor. Recognizing your accomplishments can help you build confidence in yourself. But be prepared to see the list is nothing more than survival skills. This could be a reality check that helps you realign with your real-life goals. If you don’t feel good about the accomplishments, you might be chasing the wrong ones.
Challenge Your Negative Thoughts: When negative thoughts start to creep in, challenge them. Ask yourself if the negative thought is based on fact or fiction. Often, negative thoughts are based on limiting beliefs rather than reality. But remember negative thoughts aren’t always bad. You might challenge it and find out you would rather be a cooperative homemaker rather than a subordinate worker.
Set Realistic Goals: Set realistic goals for yourself and break them down into smaller, achievable steps. This can help you build momentum and achieve success in small, manageable increments. It’s ok to set looser goals for lifestyle vs external validation via promotions, awards, and trinkets.
Get Support: Talk to a trusted friend, mentor, or mental health professional about your feelings of imposter syndrome. Often, getting an outside perspective can help you gain a new understanding and overcome your self-doubt. It can also help you cut the bullshit and realize you’ve been being a delusional dreamer.
Work on your strengths: No one is perfect, and that's okay. Embrace your imperfections and realize that they are a natural part of the learning process. Instead of focusing on what you can't do, focus on your strengths and what you can do. Often, we reach a goal and stop working to excel at it, this is a mistake. You should be purposefully ensuring you’re gaining new skills and competency. This will ensure we feel secure in our position and status that we’ve worked hard to achieve.
I’ve vaguely mentioned it but I want to be very clear, imposter syndrome can be telling you that you shouldn’t be independent. Sometimes the reasons accomplishments don’t matter is cause we aren’t doing it for anyone but ourself. We often don’t realize how satisfying a sense of duty can be for the human psyche. But there’s a reason soldiers will follow orders even to their death, it is psychologically satisfying to see a task to completion. The greater the difficulty, the greater the chemical hit and life rewards.
We don’t get that from work or friends or media or consumerism or beauty or fear, we get it from family and community. You might always have to be a regular ass worker like most people. But if you have 3 smiling goofballs at home to do it for, you are also a knight of sworn duty – a soldier willing to anything your duty requires. You have a purpose beyond money and happiness, which won’t be there honoring your dedication to them on your death bed. But your family will be. Your family will remember your sacrifices and make your efforts today matter beyond the next payday.