No one wants to feel like an imposter at work. Yet, imposter syndrome is a prevalent issue affecting professionals in a range of roles, even leadership ones. Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or a newcomer to the workforce, the persistent doubt about your capabilities can be paralyzing.
If you’ve ever felt like you don’t belong or that you’re tricking your colleagues into thinking you’re competent, you’re not alone. Research shows that nearly two-thirds of knowledge workers worldwide have experienced imposter syndrome at some point in their careers. Here’s a look at what it is and how to overcome it.
How Can You Overcome Imposter Syndrome?
Understanding Imposter Syndrome
Imposter syndrome is characterized by self-doubt related to work accomplishments, leading to feelings of inadequacy and the fear of being exposed as a fraud. Symptoms include a lack of self-confidence, sensitivity to small mistakes, fear of failing your team, and burnout from overworking. The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated these feelings, with 47% of knowledge workers worldwide reporting an increase in imposter syndrome.
Identifying Different Types
Generally, there are five different types of imposter “personalities,” including the following:
- The Perfectionist: Focuses on “how” something is done, always feeling they could have done better.
- The Expert: Measures competence by “what” and “how much” they know, fearing failure and shame in moments of minor knowledge gaps.
- The Natural Genius: Equates success with speed and ease, feeling like a failure if they don’t grasp a subject immediately.
- The Soloist: Believes they have to do everything on their own, seeing asking for help as a sign of weakness.
- The Superhuman: Measures success by juggling and mastering multiple roles, feeling guilty for falling short in any area.
Overcoming Imposter Syndrome: 5 Tips
While overcoming imposter syndrome isn’t always easy, you can do it with some effort and patience. To put your feelings of fraud away once and for all, start with the following:
#1: Focus on the Facts
Differentiate between facts and the stories your mind creates. When feeling like an imposter, refer back to observable truths and specific accomplishments rather than how you might be interpreting a situation negatively.
#2: Acknowledge, Validate, Let Go
Recognize and validate your feelings of inadequacy without letting them define you. Accept that it’s okay to feel this way, then release those emotions. They are not rooted in reality.
#3: Share Your Feelings
Imposter syndrome is isolating and can even feel embarrassing. However, by sharing your struggles with someone, you’ll often find shared experiences and additional support.
#4: Look for Evidence
Challenge imposter syndrome by reviewing your work objectively. Identify areas for improvement based on facts rather than assumptions and look at areas where you’ve achieved your goals in the past.
#5: Reframe Your Thoughts
Monitor and modify your mental voice to adopt a more positive mindset. Reframing negative thoughts helps you approach situations with optimism rather than automatic negativity.
A few other ways to overcome imposter syndrome include finding a mentor who can offer practical advice, guidance, and support. You should also work to identify the situations that trigger your feelings of inferiority and prepare ahead of time to mitigate them. Finally, be patient with yourself. Remember, overcoming imposter syndrome is an ongoing process, one that takes time.
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