What is Imposter Syndrome and how do I overcome it?

Imposter SyndromeEver felt like a fraud at work? Ever feel like you’re just totally faking it til you make it, except you never seem to ‘make it’?

You probably have a case of ‘Imposter Syndrome’.

Imposter syndrome is a lot more common than you think. Haven’t we all, on some level, felt like we were just completely winging it and that we were about to get found out? Maybe you have doubts about your achievements and abilities, experience negative self-talk or feel unable to move on from your mistakes.

Whatever you feel, chances are it’s affecting your career alongside. It could be causing you to hold back, keep your ideas to yourself, quash your natural talent and stay quiet for fear of doing something wrong.

And that’s what we’re here to tackle, because nothing should hold you back from achieving what you want to. From personal experience, The Audit Lab suggests six ways to overcome the negative mind-trap of imposter syndrome.

Open up and find your cheerleaders

Chances are you have kept these feelings to yourself not just because you’re fearful of being ‘discovered’ but also because you think no one will understand. But remember that most of us experience Imposter Syndrome on some level. So opening up to your friends and loved ones may prove more useful than you originally thought.

You need somewhere to get those feelings out of you safely, with someone who will respond with sympathy, empathy and thoughtful suggestions. You never know when these feelings of uncertainty are going to rear their head, so it’s important to have people close by who can help.

Once they understand how you’re feeling, you’ll have a strong group of cheerleaders who are ready to give you a boost whenever you have a wobble and start to doubt your abilities.

Prep, prep and prep some more

Many people find that these feelings of anxiety and a lack of self-confidence can often flare up when something big is on the horizon. Perhaps you’re doing a presentation, have a public speaking engagement or are up for a promotion, and what should be an exciting stepping stone in your career is suddenly overshadowed by feeling like a fraud.

A good way to get around this is by prepping as much as you possibly can. The more you can walk into this big event knowing that you have planned for every possible outcome and eventuality, the more confident you’ll feel and be able to shut down those thoughts telling you that you can’t.

Stop comparing

Comparison is the thief of joy. Comparing yourself to others, whether personally or professionally, is a trap that is easy to fall into and difficult to get out of. It can be hard seeing other people achieving milestones in their lives and you’re left wondering when you’re going to catch up. “When is it going to happen to me?”

But in times like these it’s essential that you remind yourself that we’re all on our own journey and following our own path. Our roads are all different and just because yours has taken a different route to your best friend’s or your co-worker’s doesn’t make it any less beautiful or enjoyable.

Have coping mechanism

Sometimes these flare ups can be too strong to cope with using just thoughts and positive thinking, and it would be counter-intuitive of us to suggest otherwise. In times like these, have a routine at the ready to help you calm down, ground yourself and reset your brain. It could be having a favourite tea for special occasions in your desk drawer, and your reset is heading to the kitchen to brew up. It could be taking five minutes to journal about your feelings.

However you handle a flare up is fine, do whatever you need to do. Just use that time to pick yourself up and dust yourself off.

Redefine ‘failure’

The problem with the hustle culture where burnout is an idealistic goal to strive to, is that failure is seen as the worst thing that could ever happen. In fact the opposite is true. It’s ok to fail.

None of these mean that you don’t belong or that you’re being fake. There are so many stories out there about some of the world’s most successful people who failed countless times before getting their big break. JK Rowling, Walt Disney, Starbucks!

Reframe your idea of the word ‘failure’ by thinking about the worst that could happen. Most of the time someone will simply say ‘no’. Looking at the situation from a different perspective might not get rid of your fear altogether, but it could help mitigate it. What’s most important is that you start to think of ‘failure’ as an opportunity to learn, grow and develop.

Remind yourself of your accomplishments

When you do achieve something or are on the receiving end of some praise (and trust us, it will happen!) really take stock of that moment. Remember that the praise giver has taken time out of their day to speak to you; they’re not just doing it for the sake of it! Really take their words on board and internalise them. Make a journal if you have to where you note down all the good things that happen. Then you have something to look back on when you’re having a particularly bad day.

Caire CromptonAbout the author

Claire Crompton is the Co Founder and Director of digital marketing agency, The Audit Lab. Claire has a passion for communication, a strong commercial focus and appetite to deliver consistent results for all clients.

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