Have you ever felt that your accomplishments are due to extremely good luck? Do you feel like a fraud, when people are looking for guidance and advice from you? You may have lots of responsibility, but are fearful that one day someone will see right through your fraud and it will all come tumbling down.
“I’m a fraud, and someone’s going to find out”
Don’t worry if you feel this way, because you are one of millions of people who have experienced this before. The phenomenon is called imposter syndrome and I experience it constantly myself. Being in the software industry, I often feel I don’t stack up with my teammates and other engineers. I am grateful to work with so many smart people, and I often wonder if I am pulling my own weight. Sometimes I feel out of my league when discussing ever-changing technology or architecture design. Maybe they’ll find out soon how much of a fraud I am.
How to Overcome Imposter Syndrome?
Overcoming imposter syndrome is hard. What is the difference between people with imposter syndrome and those without? The mindset. People without imposter syndrome know their self-worth and recognize their strengths. Even if they doubt their ability from time-to-time, they do not allow it to grow and instead choose to be confident. Changing your mindset is not an overnight process process, and it’s difficult. But, recognizing that you have imposter syndrome is a first step towards finding a way to handle it.
Remember what you do well
First, it is important to recognize what strengths you have. I have a folder where I keep all my work accomplishments. Looking at it is a great reminder of achievements that I am proud of, as well as being an awesome refresher for updating that resume. Think of times where you helped someone accomplish their goals. Remember your expertise and times of mentorship.
Many times, we brush aside tons of compliments we receive and hold on tightly to any criticism. It doesn’t matter if you’ve been praised a hundred times in a week; it’s the one critique that always seems to stick with you. Hanging on to negativity can drive our self-doubt, so try to focus on the positive interactions you have and bask in your accomplishments a wee bit longer.
Get it off your shoulders
Remember, the majority of people are feeling the same way you do. Even very successful actors, authors, and experts in their respective fields have these feelings.
“I have written 11 books but each time I think ‘Uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.’”
Try talking to a friend or family member about what is going through your mind. Most likely, someone in your circle experiences the same feelings. You can be reassured that you are not alone, and others are in the same battle. Opening up and confiding in people you trust can help you overcome imposter syndrome.
No one is perfect
Don’t be so hard on yourself! Realize that no one is perfect and it is okay to fail. Being a perfectionist is a common trait of imposter syndrome. Having unrealistic standards provides a recipe for self-induced failure and self-doubt, as you continually try and not live up to those expectations. Spend a moment to reflect on if your own standards are realistic.
This is one of the things I’m trying to work on. Part of my own imposter syndrome is self-induced from being a perfectionist. I give others around me grace for failures and setbacks, but doubt my own capability when facing difficulties. There’s a double-standard there which starts a spiral of distrust in myself.
Having goals is good in setting yourself on paths to grow and become better. However, it must be done with moderation or you will risk your mental well-being.
Learn to be Uncomfortable (You’re not Alone)
You most likely won’t be able to get rid of imposter syndrome forever. It comes back to me from time to time. The most important thing is to recognize your anxiety and fears as imposter syndrome. Remember that you are not alone, that millions of people suffer from imposter syndrome just like yourself. Many successful entrepreneurs and creatives from all walks of life have bouts of imposter syndrome.
I hope that through these thought-exercises, you will be able to overcome your imposter syndrome. It’s difficult and will take lots of effort, but recognizing the cause and having a strategy can empower to shift your mindset. Please share any stories you have and let me know your strategies in combating imposter syndrome.