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Imposter Syndrome

Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

Are there times when you feel like a fraud? Did you recently receive a promotion you feel you didn’t deserve? For some, being asked to lead a project can leave them with this feeling, and others experience this when they are asked to manage a team of co-workers. This feeling is more common than many individuals realize and is referred to as imposter syndrome. Surprisingly, it affects more people than most realize and is often seen in individuals who appear to be at the top of their career. What does every person need to know about this syndrome and how to combat it?

The Symptoms of Imposter Syndrome

The major symptom associated with imposter syndrome is a feeling that one or more successes are not deserved. The person experiencing these feelings believes they have made it where they are today simply because of timing or good luck. Some link these successes to other factors that they have no control over. They cannot accept that they made these successes happen, due to irrational thinking on their part about their performance and aptitudes. If they don’t believe they’ve excelled, they are unable to accept the rewards that come with doing so. The feelings of inadequacy often increase as a person moves up in his or her chosen field.


What people need to recognize is everyone has likely experienced this type of feeling in the past. Furthermore, these feelings will probably rear their ugly head in the future again, as it is difficult to completely overcome the symptoms of imposter syndrome. Fortunately, there are several ways a person can overcome these feelings and accepts the successes they have earned. It’s simply a matter of learning to identify these thoughts and manage them to move forward.

Managing the Symptoms of Imposter Syndrome

First and foremost, a person must determine what success is tied to these feelings. Is it a promotion, a new honor that has been bestowed, or a job transfer that was highly coveted by a co-worker? In many cases, a person experiences these feelings when they believe someone else is more qualified or entitled to the success. They undersell themselves while inflating the other person and that is the source of the feelings.

Once the source of the issue has been identified, it is best to speak to someone who is trusted about these feelings of inadequacy. When the issue is related to work, speak to someone outside of the job. When it is a problem within the home, seek the guidance of someone outside of the family. This gives the person being spoken to a way to see the situation from a different light and determine if the thoughts and feelings are irrational. Furthermore, he or she can provide reminders of the strengths of the person questioning their worth and abilities.

Carry this one step further and make a list of these accomplishments. This should be done regularly, as it is a helpful reminder of the work that has led a person to where he or she is today. Numerous people find it helpful to write their personal story to show where they have been and where they are today. Completing this step allows the person to reflect on how far they have come and why they have been successful.

Look to those who have been helpful in the past. Should their competence be questioned? They knew what they were doing when they offered the promotion, job transfer, or other option, and they made deliberate choices, taking the potential and experience of each possible selection into mind when doing so. As a result, the person selected should feel confident that they are deserving of this success.

Imagine a world where anything is possible and write down what this world would look like or tell someone about it. Although this world may not be possible for reasons beyond a person’s control, it never hurts to work toward the ideal. Doing so can lead to amazing things, so don’t let imposter syndrome get in the way of progress.

Reflect on the internal language being used, as this often holds a person back, but it doesn’t have to. Make use of phrases that are confident and assertive to counteract any negative self-talk. Individuals who do so begin to believe what the mind is telling them and become more assertive in their interactions with others to see their ideas come to fruition.

Mentor Others

By sharing their knowledge and expertise with others, a person finds they learn more about themselves. The mentoring process brings to light knowledge and strengths while revealing skills that may otherwise be overlooked. The act of helping another is very empowering also.

Individuals who are very successful in their career often fall victim to imposter syndrome, which is a sign that they are doing something right. The questioning that takes place thanks to this syndrome helps the individual discover their personal strengths and weaknesses, what they are doing successfully, and where improvement needs to be seen. This is beneficial to all, as it helps a person to grow.



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