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What is Imposter Syndrome and how to manage it

Do you ever feel like you’re not good enough, you don’t belong, or others might discover you’ve been ‘pretending’ all along? You just might be experiencing what’s known as imposter syndrome. And it’s something that most of us feel at some time or another.

Symptoms can include:

  • Feeling inadequate
  • Denying your success
  • Finding it difficult to accept praise
  • Being a perfectionist
  • Avoiding new responsibilities

No matter how much evidence there is to prove your achievements, there’s a sense that you’re not as capable as others think you are. These feelings can make you feel isolated. But you’re not alone! Did you know that an estimated 70%* of people experience imposter feelings at some point in their lives?

So, it’s quite normal, but how you deal with it makes all the difference.

Illustration of person thinking about different emotions

HERE ARE FOUR WAYS TO HELP YOU OVERCOME IMPOSTER SYNDROME

1. Be aware of your feelings

Awareness is the first step to change. Take note of when negative self-talk comes out to play. You can gain a lot of perspective by simply observing when your thoughts head down that path. And remember, thoughts and feelings don’t necessarily reflect reality.

2. Reframe negative self-talk

You’re now consciously aware of your internal monologue. The next step is to make it a habit to reframe your thoughts – a critical part of overcoming imposter syndrome. For example, you might think, “everyone here is so much better and talented than me. I don’t deserve to be here.” Take a moment, stop and instead tell yourself, “Everyone is brilliant, as am I. I’m going to learn so much from this group!”

Image of four people celebrating with a trophy
"Minimising your achievements serves no one. If you feel undeserving, write a list of things you’ve accomplished in the last six months, year, five years. You’ll be pleased to see that it was your skill and talent that made it happen. And don’t forget to celebrate and enjoy your successes!"
3. Talk about it

Chances are, your friends and peers can relate. This means that you don’t have to go through it alone! It’s better to openly discuss your feelings with a trusted circle instead of letting negative thoughts stew in your mind. You might find comfort in having a support network and, together, build up the self-confidence to continue kicking goals.

4. Own your achievements

Minimising your achievements serves no one. If you feel undeserving, write a list of things you’ve accomplished in the last six months, year, five years. You’ll be pleased to see that it was your skill and talent that made it happen. And don’t forget to celebrate and enjoy your successes!

Illustration of two people thinking

SOMETHING TO REMEMBER

If your negative thought patterns and self-doubt don’t go away immediately, just remember it takes time, practise, and self-praise to rewire negative thought patterns. Have confidence and believe in yourself – you’ve got this!

*Sakulku, J. The Imposter Phenomenon, The Journal of Behavioral Science

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