10 Tidbits to Help Overcome Imposter Syndrome
It’s not just you! Many people seem to have a bit of Imposter Syndrome (IS). From medical students to doctors, from graduate students to researchers, from interns to prominent fashion designers, most of us have had a taste of IS.
Harvard Business Review says IS can be defined as a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success. For example, when you are in the room of extremely competent people with similar experience as you, but you convince yourself that you are the least common denominator. Or when you finally get the promotion and every day afterward you are paranoid that your HR manager is going to tell you they made a mistake (oops, their bad!)? Or the self-nagging that no matter how many degrees you have, ladders you climb or attributes you have, you are not good enough, smart enough, wise enough, witty enough, etc.
Well enough is enough. We’ve got ten ways to help you overcome the dark side of IS (inspired from a commentary in the American Journal of Pharmaceutical Education).
1. Fess Up
The first step to healing anything is to admit there is a problem. So let yourself come to terms with the fact that you have IS. If you’re not sure, take a moment to take this quiz. The truth shall set you free.
2. Separate Truth vs. Mind Chatter
Many of us have heard to not believe everything we think. Not all of our thoughts are true. So next time you have a self-doubting thought, replace it with something more positive (that you want to be true) or with the tangible facts. Clearing up mind chatter is always helpful.
3. Check Your Self-Doubt
Self-doubt is common and helpful at times - pushing us to go over and beyond. However, when an appropriate level of self-doubt is exceeded, it can prevent us from moving forward with change and healthy challenges. Let excess self-doubt go to make room for success.
4. Focus on the Positive
Often we can focus on the negative shrub amongst a forest of positivity. Flip it. As often as possible, try to focus on what you are achieving and accomplishing instead of what you’re not (or have not). Leave the negativity behind - as much as you can.
5. Keep it Pushing (Real Good)
When we slip up, or things don’t turn out the way we’d hope, keep it moving. Take the time you need to release your disappointments and then continue onward. No need to dwell on the past, learn from it.
6. Ask for the Help
No one has succeeded alone. And that’s the way it’s supposed to be. While asking for help may add to the feeling of inadequacy, it’s just your mind chatter telling you that (see #2). There is a pure strength in surrendering to your humanness of not knowing everything.
7. Target Your IS Triggers
What initiates these feelings of IS for you? Is there something similar that happens each time you begin to feel less than others? Notice any patterns that bring these feelings out? Pay attention and make note of these. It could help you minimize your self-doubts.
8. Visualize Your Success
Envision yourself being your best, instead of the opposite. Often, we think about how wrong things could go as opposed to how amazing they could be. Although there are evolutionary reasons for this, visualizing yourself being awesome can get you closer to success. Visualize what you want and make your next step.
9. Celebrate Yourself
People with IS often dismiss compliments or appreciations. Stop. Acknowledging and celebrating your successes provides a good time and makes you more likely to endure the hard work it takes to achieve another success. Work hard, play hard.
10. Fake It, Until You Feel It
Confidence doesn’t typically come overnight. Even when it does, it doesn’t always stay for good. It tends to come and go and come and go. So pretend. Pretend that you are the confident, magnificent person you want to be until you feel that you are. And if the confidence happens to leave, pretend again. With practice, it will stay.
Practice any, all, or any combination of these ten tidbits so, instead of seeing yourself as an imposter, you can see yourself as the virtuoso that you are!
And you don’t have to stop with these ten. There are countless ways you can overcome IS. Do you have any to share?