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Overcoming imposter syndrome.


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What is Imposter Syndrome?

[ im-pos-ter sin-drohm ] noun.

anxiety or self-doubt that results from persistently undervaluing one’s competence and active role in achieving success, while falsely attributing one’s accomplishments to luck or other external forces.

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Despite evidence of your success, you can still feel like you’re not good enough, a fraud who doesn’t deserve the recognition for your hard work. How I look at it is that we are our own biggest critics, and it’s natural to sometimes analyse ourselves, I mean, we are the “main characters” of our lives. But are we being too harsh on ourselves?

Here’s some examples of Imposter Syndrome and how it presents:

  1. The perfectionist – having unrealistic or unattainable expectations of self
  2. Thinking their colleagues have it all together – often feel like they’re a fraud and everybody else is competent and successful.
  3. Negative self-talk – Focusing on weaknesses instead of strengths and putting themselves down for even the most minor mistakes.
  4. Feeling pressure from external contributors – feeling pressure to proverbially ‘Keep Up with the Joneses’ and feeling less than when not being able to live up to that lifestyle or standard. Or also feeling the pressure in proving oneself against expectations of stereotypical archetypes like gender roles, sexuality or cultural background for example.
  5. ALWAYS going the extra mile – to the point of mental or physical exhaustion. Instead of managing time effectively, constantly feeling like they have to prove their work ethic and dedication to no end.
  6. Playing down achievements – (pretty self-explanatory)
  7. Fear of being exposed as a fraud – Thinking that at any moment, the penny will drop, and “they” will catch you out for being not as good as they thought you were.

 

How to overcome Imposter Syndrome

First of all, know that you are NOT alone. Trust me on that one. Imposter syndrome typically shows up when we have a new role or responsibilities. It can make us feel guilty or anxious. Sometimes, you may become so obsessed over minor mistakes, overworking yourself to prove you’re “perfect” (btw, NOBODY is perfect, literally no-one) or worse – self-sabotaging. Here are a few things you can do to help overcome imposter syndrome:

  • Talk to someone – don’t suffer in silence. More often than not, someone you know has felt the same way you do at some point and can probably be a good listening ear.
  • Celebrate your wins – Look at your losses as lessons on what to do better next time so that they become wins. Celebrate your wins, big or small and always try to appreciate where you are now in comparison to where you started.
  • Make a plan – try to be pro-active rather than reactive. Try and break down your goals into smaller and more manageable chunks and slowly build them into your routine, it can really help with managing feeling overwhelmed and panicked. This article from Ascend quotes: “In his book, Atomic Habits, author and speaker James Clear emphasizes the impact of “one percent better every day.” Set aside time on your calendar to work on your most important tasks of the week. I recommend scheduling a chunk of time for completing several smaller, lower impact tasks (reading emails, copyediting, scheduling, etc.) and separate chunks of time to work exclusively on higher impact projects (one by one). This way, you manage what you need to do in both the short and long term.”
  • Therapy – where possible, try and speak to a therapist to help identify triggers for Imposter Syndrome and create new behaviours to be able to overcome them.

Be patient and kind to yourself – it’s OK to not be perfect. You’re setting yourself up for disappointment by believing that anyone is. It’s about taking action and learning from each experience that you face.

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We do not provide professional help to individuals in urgent crisis. If you are experiencing a mental health emergency, please call 999 immediately. For support with suicidal thoughts, consider contacting the Samaritans UK, a trusted organisation specialising in confidential assistance during emotional distress. Your safety is paramount and there are professionals available to provide the urgent help required in such critical situations.
We do not provide professional help to individuals in urgent crisis. If you are experiencing a mental health emergency, please call 999 immediately. For support with suicidal thoughts, consider contacting the Samaritans UK, a trusted organisation specialising in confidential assistance during emotional distress. Your safety is paramount and there are professionals available to provide the urgent help required in such critical situations.