Ever find yourself thinking these thoughts?
“What I do is not a big deal.”
“I just got lucky.”
“Anyone can do it.”
“I feel like a fake.”
“What if I fail?”
“Do I deserve this promotion?”
If the answer is yes, then you may be experiencing something called imposter syndrome.
Imposter syndrome is typically described by feelings of constant intellectual phoniness, self-doubt or inefficiencies. People who suffer from it always have a fear of being ‘found out.’ In my career spanning 18 years, I have seen many people at various levels face this issue. These feelings are often accompanied by apprehension, anxiety, and in severe cases, depression.
It is important to note here that it has almost nothing to do with a person’s competence but how they perceive themselves. It is often linked with perfectionism, wherein nothing they do or accomplish is good enough. Perfection, my friends, is a myth!
Imposter syndrome hits women more than men
The imposter syndrome was first identified in 1978. In spite of women making tremendous strides in every possible field, be it science, technology, politics, and more, in the last 43 years, it is still very, very much prevalent.
Imposter syndrome is much more common than you think. People just do not know it by this name. A KPMG study shows that women experience this syndrome a lot more than men. A staggering 75% of women reveal they have imposter syndrome. The study further says that women put more pressure on themselves (81%) than men to succeed in the workplace. I believe women have exceedingly high expectations and set unrealistic goals that make them question their own achievements rather than own them.
If you find yourself feeling like a pretender, you are not alone, and there are ways to deal with it through these practical tips…
Five strategies to cope with imposter syndrome
- Get a mentor or coach: It is crucial to have someone who believes in you when you have self-doubt. A mentor or coach can reassure you and instill self-confidence. They can tell you what you are feeling is normal, and many others like you have successfully overcome this challenge. More importantly, it is helpful to have someone share your thoughts and fears with so that you don’t feel alone in your journey. The KPMG study reveals that 72% of respondents turn to their mentor for advice when doubt creeps in. We all have blind spots, it always also helps if you take a step back and seek feedback from peers, colleagues you trust who may help you in your journey.
- Stop comparing yourself to others: This has never really helped anyone. You are who you are, and you have come this far in life because of your own strengths. Even if you experience imposter syndrome, it does not mean you are any less intelligent or less competent than others. The only difference is in how you respond to situations. If you find yourself taking a backseat or holding yourself back far too often, it is time to rewire your thinking. Try to take chances, and if you falter, seek help, learn from your mistakes and move forward.
- Build on your strengths: Every single person is different (that in itself is our biggest USP!). Take a deep dive inside and identify your core strengths and weaknesses. Focus on the former rather than the latter. For example, if you have great time management skills, are easy to adapt to new situations, or are good at building relationships, work on further building on your strengths. This will also help you find a role you can excel in and help you get rid of the imposter syndrome. A person who can build relationships quickly would do very well in sales or client relationship management.
- Upskill yourself regularly: Learning should never stop. What you find intimidating today may be a breeze tomorrow with a little bit of effort. Always set aside time for self-improvement and upskill yourself regularly. It could be getting a new IT certification if you are a techie, learning about social media marketing, or even getting comfortable with public speaking. This will not only help you grow and become better at your job, but it will also do wonders for your sense of self-worth.
- Celebrate wins: Be kind to yourself. Celebrate every win – big or small. Your own approval and job satisfaction is more important than anything else. Take a moment, soak in your accomplishment and give yourself a pat on the back. This will recharge you, fill you up with confidence, keep you focussed and help you enjoy your success.
Do you identify with any of the symptoms? How do you cope with them? Share our experiences in the comments below.