How to Deal with Imposter Syndrome

Did the word phrase Imposter Syndrome catch your eye?
Most of us have heard of this term and may have even felt it at some point in our career.
I’m going to get straight to the point and say that almost 100% of my clients have experienced Imposter Syndrome at some point, and it seems to happen more often the more senior and specialized you get. So, if you have felt this before, just know that you are not alone. 

What is Imposter Syndrome?

The simple explanation is that Imposter Syndrome is a mental pattern where you doubt your own achievements and are constantly concerned with being exposed as a fake or a fraud. 

Instead of realizing that you earned that position by working hard, there is that little voice that makes you feel that it happened by luck and you dismiss the efforts that went into your achievements despite proof — promotions, salary increases, and awards.    

Sound familiar?

If this is something that has a chronic impact on your mental health and career than it’s best to speak to an expert on this, however, if it’s a feeling that pops up now and again perhaps some of these tips will help you manage this annoying feeling. 

Make a list of achievements

The next time you find yourself doubting yourself and your success, make a list of your career achievements. And I don’t mean your resume, actually write down everything you would have accomplished based on your efforts. You will be surprised at how long the list will get. This can be things like your education, projects you have completed, promotions, people reaching out to you for opportunities based on your reputation, anything and everything that is proof that you are an expert in your field. Once this list is made you can refer back to it whenever the thought comes back to you.

Pro Tip: This amazing list will come in handy when preparing for an interview or updating your resume.

Get a mentor or hire a coach

Having a mentor or a coach on your side is always a great way to bring you out of the dumps. Because they aren’t your close friend, you will tend to believe them more when they are giving you praises and trust that they aren’t just saying it to be nice. By having constructive discussions about your achievements your coach/mentor will help you to realize how many successes you really do have to celebrate.

Reframing your thoughts on you own success 

Maybe you experience Imposter Syndrome because you had a little help along the way, i.e. someone referring you for an opportunity, or having assistance executing a project and so on. That old saying ‘it’s not what you know, it’s who you know’ is so outdated! Sure someone may have helped you get an interview but they didn’t land you the job, that was you and your accomplishments and expertise. It’s important to remember that everyone and I mean everyone, gets help along the way to get to where they are now. We are always helping others and receiving help, it’s just the natural give and take of a good person. If you don’t believe me try making a list of all the times you helped others succeed and I’m sure you’ll find that everything balances out.

Value constructive criticism

This is a tough one for many people. Often when we receive constructive feedback from others we hear it as negative and feel hurt instead of realizing it is a positive gift. It is a gift to be made aware of how you can improve something to experience even greater success. Of course, sometimes the person delivering the feedback does so in a way that can feel hurtful, however you want to try your best to take the lesson from it and remove the emotion. The harder you take on the feedback, the worse you feel about yourself and you can see how this will not help the situation of feeling like a fraud. You have the control and the power to step back and really listen to the words being said and remember it’s often an opinion so you can take it or leave it. 

Focus on your wins, not your losses

This one is dedicated to all you perfectionists out there. If you tend to focus on the mistakes you make, you will definitely lose sight of your many successes which could lead to you feeling like an imposter. One tip that might help is writing down 1-3 successes you experienced at the end of each workday. This will help you retrain your brain to pay more attention to your wins so you can celebrate more! 

Put your thoughts on trial

This one is easier said than done and takes lots of practice, but you have to start somewhere! The next time you are doubting your achievements, try to just observe the thought rather than engage in it. Ask yourself ‘Does this thought help me or hurt me?’. This takes a lot of mindfulness which can feel like hard work at first! It is totally worth it though. 

Give those monstrous feelings a name

This might sound crazy but give that feeling a persona. You can call it ‘Steve’ or ‘Penelope’ it doesn’t really matter just give it a name. Talk about it and acknowledge it as an uninvited guest to your success party. “oh hello Steve, here to ruin my day again I see…not going to work, so carry on sir”

Simply giving a name to this monster that pops up now and again can help you gain control over it and send it packing.

Let me say it again, you are not alone!

I hope simply knowing this will lessen the burden of this awful feeling and allow you to gain control and put it into perspective.
You are not a fraud.
You are not an imposter.
And you’ve totally got this!

If you require 1:1 support, always happy to help!

With gratitude ?

Jen Rose Narayan, Career + Purpose Coach 

[email protected]