Have you ever felt like you don’t belong?
That everyone is going to find out you’re just a fraud or phony and that you don’t actually deserve your job and achievements?
That new promotion you got. Just luck, right? I mean … there wasn’t that much competition to begin with. That big conference you got invited to speak at. Somebody probably dropped out and that’s the only reason they tapped you.
Sound familiar? If so, you may struggle with imposter syndrome or imposter phenomenon. Imposter syndrome is not a mental disorder. However, over time feelings of inadequacy can lead to anxiety, self-doubt, self-sabotage, frustration, and even depression.
It is estimated that 70 percent of people will experience at least one episode of this phenomenon in their lives.
Overcoming imposter syndrome requires soul searching and asking yourself some difficult questions.
1. What core beliefs do I hold about myself?
2. Do I believe I am worthy of love just as I am?
3. Must I be perfect for others to accept me?
And then taking these steps:
Don’t keep it to yourself. Tell others about your feelings. Keeping these fraudulent feelings to yourself only breeds shame, fear, and resentment. Once you begin to break your silence, you’ll find that you’re not alone in your feelings.
Feelings are not facts. There will be times when you feel stupid. It happens to everyone. The important thing to remember is that just because you feel incapable, doesn’t mean that you are.
Challenge your thoughts. Make a list of your negative beliefs. Then assess your abilities and question your beliefs. Considering everything you know about yourself, are these negative thoughts irrational or rational? Are you really a fraud?
Stop comparing yourself to others. Comparing yourself to others will only increase your feelings of not being good enough or not belonging. When in a meeting or a social situation, pay close attention to what others are saying. Be genuinely interested in learning more.
Recognize your talents: You know more than you think – so share it with others. Tutoring or volunteering is not only a great way to give back to your community, but it will remind you of how far you’ve come and how much knowledge you have to impart.
Self-doubt can be paralyzing. But now that you know how to recognize and deal with these feelings, you can make efforts to move forward and not get stuck in the cycle of imposter syndrome.