Imposter Syndrome: How to acknowledge and overcome it
Have you ever doubted your competences? Thought that your ideas weren’t good enough to be shared? Do you tend to compare yourself to others?
Then, you might experience the imposter syndrome, which is much more common than we think. Learn how to acknowledge and overcome it.
I belong to these kinds of people who lack self-confidence, and for me, it started pretty early.
At school, I never rose my hand to answer the teachers’ questions because I was scared to give a wrong answer. I also never asked for further clarifications out of fear to appear dumb.
Stepping back, I think it is a shame to think and act like that, but I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who has felt this way.
I thought it was linked to the fact that I am a timid and reserved person, but I discovered later that it is actually more than that.
Growing up, pursuing my studies, stepping into the professional world, I kept convincing myself that I was not enough.
That my ideas weren’t worthy. That the work I provided wasn’t sufficient.
I used to attribute this behavior to being an introvert and a Virgo (which tend to be perfectionists) until I learned that these obsessive thoughts had a name and that many people experience it.
The imposter syndrome.
What is the imposter syndrome?
The imposter syndrome is characterized by low self-esteem by the people who experience it.
They tend to underestimate their competences and aren’t able to own their success.
Therefore, they can feel like impostors when they get their dream job, gain a university place or when they graduate.
Acknowledge the imposter syndrome
The imposter syndrome can show up in many ways:
- Doubting your competences and realizations
- Assigning your success to external factors (relationships, chance, time and place)
- Feeling not worthy of your job, title, uni place
- Having difficulties to accept compliments
- Having difficulties to accept criticism
- Fearing not to be good enough
- Putting yourself down
- Comparing yourself to successful people
- Not considering your work sufficient
- Thinking that your ideas and thoughts do not deserve to be heard
In case you need to be reassured, I felt each and every one of these “symptoms” at least once in my life.
If that is your case too, I hope you feel less alone.
Where does the imposter syndrome come from?
It is a good thing to know that you might live with the imposter syndrome, but you may ask yourself where it comes from and how it develops.
According to several studies, this might come from the social competitiveness we currently live in; based on performance, comparison, and competition.
To be known or rewarded, you shall be the best, the richer, the most clever or ingenious.
This puts tremendous pressure on people trying to reach a certain way of success or recognition.
In my opinion, the imposter syndrome has nowadays even more chances to develop due to the internet, and you guessed it, social media.
We are easily brought to compare our lives, achievements, and even our number of likes and followers to thousands of people we don’t even know.
Overcoming the imposter syndrome
To go further these obsessive thoughts, it is necessary to work on yourself.
1) Talk about it
Recognizing that you are stuck in this situation and talking about it is the first step.
I decided to write about this through a blog post because knowing that I am not the only one going through this already made me feel better. I hope that would be your case too!
Talk about how you feel to your loved ones, colleagues or partner. You’ll see that a lot of people feel or have felt the same.
2) Stop comparing yourself
Comparing yourself (consciously or not) is probably the best thing you can do to discourage yourself.
The thing is, there will always be someone ahead of you; with more experience, money, and exactly where you would be in life.
But what is also true is that there’s no one like you and that is your greatest power.
You know what? I’ve been thinking about this blog for many many years before but so many things held me back…
You know, there are already so many awesome blogs out there, so what am I going to do as a newbie in there?
Well, I will bring my own point of view, my experience, my opinion, my ideas.
There are uniques and they also deserve to be shared (even though I still have to convince myself some days).
Everyone starts somewhere and everyone has a different path, trajectory of life.
Take the plunge, follow your own journey, and work on the person you want to become.
3) Recognize your competencies and achievements
If there is an important step in the process of acknowledging your worth is to differentiate facts and beliefs.
You might see yourself as incompetent (belief) but you completed your education.
Maybe you consider yourself bad at maths (belief), but you got a good grade at your last exam (fact).
You might think you’re not qualified enough (belief), but you got the job you applied for (fact).
It is important to take your personal and professional achievements into consideration and to own them!
It might help you to write all your achievements, qualifications, competences and you’ll see that you can be proud of yourself!
4) Ask for feedback on your performances
Another way to confirm or deny the perceptions you have of yourself is to ask your teacher, colleagues, manager, for feedback on your work and performances.
When at work, I tend to focus way too much on my mistakes, however small they can be.
This attitude makes me think that my managers are probably not satisfied with my work, which puts a giant pressure on me. Do more, do better.
That is to say that every time I attend a yearly interview, I am pleasantly surprised.
Most of the time, people are happy with the work I deliver and the pressure I put on my shoulders shouldn’t be.
Learn from me, don’t wait till your yearly interview or your final exams to have a review on how you’re doing at your job or studies. You’ll be relieved.
5) Be kind to yourself
And because no one is perfect, you will also make mistakes and face challenges. But as everyone knows, we learn from them.
Nobody, NOBODY, succeeds at everything from the first attempt. Mistakes are necessary to learn and to evolve. Don’t making any doesn’t mean you are perfect, it means you are not trying.
So don’t be too harsh on yourself, stop judging you. Be compassionate and comfort yourself as you comfort a friend.
If you are still not convinced that you are amazing just as you are, check out the links below:
- The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women: Why Capable People Suffer from the Impostor Syndrome and How to Thrive in Spite of It
So once I finish writing this blog post and re-writing most of it because “I don’t know if it’s good enough”, I will be the first one to put my words into practice.
I think the biggest challenge for most people in this situation is to stop chasing perfection. First, because we all see perfection differently, and second because our flaws make us unique.
Let’s just be ourselves and become our best version, because in the end, that’s what we are the best at.
Did you ever experience this imposter feeling? Let me know in the comments below or come chat with me on social media @vlourish!