You’re in a job you’ve wanted for a long time. You got hired because you fit the requirements of the role. You have the skills and the talent. You’ve persevered through hurdles and challenges. Despite it all, there’s a nagging feeling in the back of your mind: “What am I doing here? What if I don’t deserve this?”
When you feel like an imposter, you question whether you belong in the role you’re in and whether you can actually do it. You begin to think you’re a fraud, and that people will eventually find out about it.
Psychologist Susan Albers describes imposter syndrome as the feeling that everyone around you knows exactly what they’re doing but that you feel lost. You're afraid that eventually people are going to find out that you don’t know what you’re talking about and that they will expose you.
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The truth is, we all know the feeling of having imposter syndrome: 82% of people experience imposter syndrome, according to a report published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine. These people struggle with the sense that they have not earned what they have achieved.
Although imposter syndrome is not a clinical diagnosis, it’s a pattern or phenomenon that can lead to negative self-talk, missed opportunities, and self-doubt. Moreover, imposter syndrome contributes to increased depression and anxiety, less risk-taking in careers, and burnout.
Tell-tale signs of imposter syndrome
Here are a few indicators that you are likely going through this phase:
You credit luck for your success.
You feel that you will only meet expectations through overworking.
You are afraid of being seen as a failure.
You feel unworthy of affection or attention.
You downplay your accomplishments.
You hold yourself back from attaining reachable goals.
Ways to overcome imposter syndrome
Identify your feelings.
Acknowledge your feelings and bring them out into light. Talk to a mentor or a trusted friend about your distress so you can get some outside context about the situation.
At work, avoid doing everything all by yourself. Rely on coworkers to create a network of mutual support. The network can offer support ang guidance, validation, and encouragement.
Don’t compare yourself with others.
People have unique skills and abilities. You don’t have to excel in all tasks because no one can do it all. Instead of using other people’s success to emphasize your flaws, consider using it as an opportunity for growth so you could develop yourself even further.
Challenge your negative self-talk.
When feelings of imposter syndrome appear, ask yourself whether there is evidence that it is true. Then, look for facts that will counter it. It’s not easy but doing this will help you separate feelings from facts. It will remind you that you are capable of learning and growing.
Everyone struggles with imposter syndrome once in a while, but it can be overcome. Remind yourself of the support of the people around you and look at how far you’ve come since you started.