What is impostor syndrome?
Impostor syndrome is basically a persistent feeling of self-doubt, unworthiness, or inadequacy that drowns out any feelings of accomplishment or success, or any actual evidence of competence and achievement. In other words, you feel like you are undeserving of your success or qualifications, that you're a "fraud" somehow deceiving everyone else into thinking you are more qualified than you actually are, even in light of any proof of your achievements.
People who suffer from impostor syndrome often are actually quite skilled and competent at what they do and are also consistently striving to be better and achieve more. This drive is exactly what led them to the position they are in.
Yet when you are always striving for more and chasing high standards for success, you can become so fixated on your ideas of what success should look like, that you fail to recognize your own strengths and accomplishments and your attention turns toward how you aren’t measuring up.
This can lead you to place increased pressure on yourself which contributes to overwhelm, anxiety, and a fear of “being found out” or exposed as incompetent. The more anxious and stressed that you become, the more likely it will start to impact your performance, which then reinforces the belief that you aren’t measuring up and meeting expectations.
Fortunately, there are ways to deal with impostor syndrome so that it doesn’t get in the way of your success.
Here are some quick tips for dealing with impostor syndrome:
Check your beliefs. When the impostor feelings arise, notice what you are telling yourself and what you believe about yourself. Are your expectations realistic? Are you telling yourself you’re not good enough or you are undeserving in some way? Then ask yourself what’s actually true and realistic.
Practice self-compassion and be kind to yourself. Even if you believe that there is some truth to what you’re telling yourself, see if there’s another way you can look at it that is more supportive. For instance, instead of viewing your insecurity or lack of know-how as a sign of incompetence, remind yourself that it is a normal response to being new to something. Remind yourself that everyone makes mistakes and missteps when they’re starting something new and that’s ok. Nobody is perfect. Each mistake is an opportunity for learning and improvement.
Review your strengths and accomplishments. Rather than focusing on mistakes or deficits, remind yourself of your strengths and successes, no matter how small and insignificant they seem. You can even list them out and keep a log so you can see it and refer to it when you need a reminder.
Get support. Find people who you can turn to for support when you need it and don’t be afraid to ask questions and ask for help. Asking for help doesn’t mean that you are incompetent or a fraud, it shows that you are interested in learning and getting the job done in the best way possible.
Sometimes it can be hard to make a change on your own and it can be helpful to have some professional support, guidance, and accountability to help you along. If you are interested in more help with dealing with impostor syndrome, feel free to contact me and we can set up an appointment. I’m happy to help.
Call Melanie Lopes, MFT at 415-295-2940 or send me an email.