It happened again! A total fluke! You got through the exam/project/presentation and you looked like you knew what you were doing. You fooled everyone again!!!!! But you don’t feel happy about it, it’s not something that you’re proud of. In fact, you get anxious every time you think about it. ‘How much longer can I get away with this?’ you think to yourself. ‘Soon, they’re going to catch me out and then they’ll know I’m not good enough’. ‘They’ll know I don’t belong here’.
If you can relate to this, then you are far from alone in feeling this way. This way of thinking is so common that it even has a name –it’s called Imposter Syndrome. Impostor syndrome describes a situation where someone feels like an imposter or fraud because they think that their accomplishments, skills and achievements are nowhere near as good as those of the people around them. But usually, their accomplishments are just as good if not better, and the individual is being needlessly insecure. The interesting thing is that the people who are most likely to experience these feelings tend to be high achievers and highly successful people!
Imposter syndrome does tend to plague women more often than men but it is common for both sexes. Some of the ways in which it can hold you back in your career would include the following:
• not applying for jobs, promotions, and other employment opportunities
• disclaiming or understating your experience or skill
• nervous talking to others in your field, especially if you perceive the others as highly experienced
• you feel like a fraud
• you worry that someone will find out your lack of qualifications and fire you
• you over-prepare for tasks
• you attribute much of your success to chance or luck
• you’re less willing to put yourself forward for a job as you feel you’re not qualified
• you feel not good enough
• you feel like you don’t belong
I’m sure I don’t need to point out that when you feel this way, you feel pretty lousy which then adds to the pot of insecurity and self doubt which then bubbles away and over time your self confidence, self esteem and self worth all dissolves away! We don’t want that to happen so if you can relate to what I’ve said so far, then I’m sure you’re wondering ‘What can I do about it?’
Tips on how to overcome Imposter Syndrome
1. With everything, being aware of it is the first step!
2. When you are speaking or writing about your work experience or skills, do not use words like ‘only’ and ‘just’! Saying things like ‘I’m just the junior team member’ or ‘I only have 2 years experience ‘ is the same as you saying, I don’t feel good about me, my experience or what I have to offer in this role.
3. If you are invited to do something (speak, apply for a job, etc), remember that the person who has invited you would not have done so if she/he thought you weren’t good enough or up to the task!
4. Do not attribute to luck or chance or ‘jamminess’ what is the result of your preparation, work and being open to opportunity.
5. Keep a record of your accomplishments, skills, projects, compliments etc and review it! This is also known as a ‘Success Bank’. You add as many successes to it as you can and then, when you’re feeling a bit low or not good enough, you can go to your success bank and check the balance!
I hope you enjoyed this issue of Progress! I’d love it if you shared your thoughts on this topic on the facebook page! Honestly, please share your story if you can relate to this article as the more we realise that it’s a common experience for many people, the easier it becomes to talk about and overcome!
Until next time,
Bank your Successes