Have you ever felt like you don’t belong, or everyone is going to find out that you don’t deserve your achievements?
If you can relate to those feelings of chronic self-doubt, you’ve probably experienced imposter syndrome.
You’re not alone – studies suggest 70% of people experience imposter syndrome at some point in their career.
Overall, imposter syndrome stems from a high sense of self-doubt. Instead of attributing your success to your skills, you might downplay your success and attribute it to luck.
- Perfectionism. You may set high goals for yourself. Because your goal is perfection, the smallest mistakes may make you feel like a failure.
- Attribute success to luck. You downplay your success because you do not believe you deserve the success, or you believe you are just lucky.
- Unable to recognize success. Instead of celebrating your accomplishments, you worry that others will see “the truth” about your skills and abilities.
- Fear of failure. Because of a fear of failure, you may set challenging goals and be disappointed when those goals fail. You might also take on limited tasks because you fear failure.
- Difficulty asking for help. You might have difficulty asking for help because you believe asking for help will show that you’re wrong or unqualified.
Experiencing imposter syndrome can limit your confidence to go after new opportunities because you feel that you do not deserve it.
Luckily, there are some steps you can take to give yourself more credit and start overcoming those feelings of self-doubt.
- Acknowledge imposter feelings. Recognize when you start feeling like an imposter. Instead of engaging with your thoughts of self-doubt, acknowledge that it is a normal response.
- Understand the root of the cause. Why do you think you feel like you don’t belong? Is it due to a fear of failure? Do you believe that you don’t deserve success? Why or why not?
- Focus on facts, not feelings. When you start feeling like a fraud, focus on positive facts. For example, maybe you were chosen for a job interview because of your qualifications.
- Ask yourself if that thought helps or hinders you. Does feeling fraudulent help or hinder you? Is that what you want to be? What kind of person do you want to be?
- Reframe your thoughts. Instead of telling yourself that you don’t deserve success, reframe your thoughts to give yourself more credit and enjoy the experience.
- Own your accomplishments instead of attributing them to “luck” or “help from others.”
- Instead of setting impossibly high standards, set smaller goals so you can enjoy the process.
- Remind yourself there will never be the “perfect time.”
- Accept that we all have to start somewhere.
- Accept that it’s okay to make mistakes. Instead of fearing failure, develop a healthy response to making mistakes. Accept that it’s normal to make mistakes and learn from each mistake instead.
- Reach out for support. Having a safe space to receive support will help you reduce feelings of being an imposter. When you feel imperfect, make a mistake, or receive a compliment, your first instinct may be to hide. Instead, start reaching out to an encouraging mentor, coach, or colleague for support.
- Say “thank you” when you receive a compliment.
- Practice being honest when you feel imperfect, embarrassed, or have made a mistake.
- Share and celebrate your achievements and successes.
Imposter syndrome can make you feel like you’re not good enough, you don’t belong, or you are undeserving. But it’s important to remind yourself that learning and making mistakes do not make you a fraud – it makes you human.
Instead of doubting yourself, take the above steps to build your self-esteem and self-worth.