But before we go into some tips on how to deal with and get rid of this software, check out what exactly is Imposter Syndrome.
If you find the above statements are partially or completely true, you probably may be suffering from impostor syndrome.
What is the Imposter Syndrome
Imposter Syndrome is a psychological term referring to a pattern of behaviour in which people doubt their achievements and have a constant, often internalized fear that their merits or achievements will be found to be untrue, distorted or resulting from good luck rather than from competence. The term was created by Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes in 1978, when they discovered that despite having adequate external evidence of achievement, people with impostor syndrome believed that they did not deserve their success.
The causes of the syndrome may be different, e.g. related to childhood experiences, but also a sense – especially nowadays, when we have access to so much information from Internet – that we still lack knowledge, that our knowledge and skills is a droplet in the ocean of knowledge in the world.
I would also like to add that the research, which has been going on for over 30 years, shows that the imposter syndrome affects up to 70% of people at different times in their lives, and not only those who achieve some visible successes. So you are not alone, and it is not your fault that you act and feel this way. This is how you were shaped by experiences in childhood or early youth, as well as by rapidly developing technology and access to knowledge that our ancestors could not have even dreamed of.
People suffering from impostor syndrome most often show two types of behaviour: either they prepare and work intensively to complete the tasks perfectly, or they procrastinate (they postpone the start of the task until later – e.g. hoping that they will be better prepared then, they will know more to get the job done). After completing the task, they are afraid of evaluation, because of course they think that despite the fact that they put in so much work and effort, it is definitely worthless. And if they receive praise, they start panicking because the next time they have to deliver even better results, and they are afraid they don’t have the resources to. And this scheme repeats over and over again.
Do you have it?
If you feel internally that what I wrote above describes your behaviour to a large extent, it’s time to take the next step, which is eliminating the imposter syndrome from your life.
It is possible and I am the best example of it myself – I have been suffering from the syndrome for most of my career, but I got rid of it using various methods and tools.
Tools to eliminate the imposter syndrome?
As I wrote above, the impostor syndrome can be overcome. And it is definitely worth taking action.
Below, I present various tools that have helped me or my clients overcome the imposter syndrome. I don’t think I have named all available methods, but sufficient so you can choose something for yourself and, step by step, finally believe in yourself and your potential!
1. Help of a specialist
You can search for a support by a specialist: a coach, psychotherapist or hypnotherapist. Some methods of hypnotherapy, such as Rapid Transformational Therapy, are by far the fastest paths to freedom. By recognizing the source of the problem and then using NLP, they quickly reprogram our mind in such a way that the syndrome becomes just a memory, and the client feels valuable and begins to believe in herself and her competences.
2. Finding the roots of the syndrome
If you do not want to work with a specialist, you can try to figure out where the impostor syndrome comes from. What are the reasons for its presence in your life. Relax and think back to childhood or youth to see what happened then. Mentally ask yourself – what is the source of the imposter syndrome? Wait for memories to come to mind. Maybe your parents or teachers kept expecting more and more from you. Even when you have had good grades, it was not enough. Or maybe they compared you to others. Or maybe you were helping yourself during the tests with cheat sheets and that’s why you were subconsciously not satisfied with yourself (I know something about that). Maybe you were punished for every mistake. See these memories and feel how you felt then. You can allow yourself to experience them now. Although it may not be easy, it is a very liberating process.
You are not this small defenceless and dependent child anymore. Those feelings can’t do you a harm. You’ve been copying for many years (I’m sure you did great, but maybe you don’t see it yet), you’ve survived, you probably have a roof over your head, you have a full fridge, you have clothes to wear, you have a mobile phone and other electronic gadgets, maybe even a car. This is a clear evidence that the situation is good. So leave those events behind you, they don’t matter anymore. Now you know the cause, and this makes you free.
The imposter syndrome stems from the fact that you believe you are inadequate. A few of the tools below should help you discover that this is not the case at all. That you are enough!
3. Know your strengths
Create a list of strengths. Write down all your strengths. While doing this exercise also recall what other people, friends, colleagues and bosses say about you positively. You can use for it ready lists of the so-called positive personality traits available in internet. While doing this feel proud. Check this list often to keep raising your self-esteem.
4. List of successes and achievements
Another exercise I would like to propose to you in order to raise your self-confidence is to create a list of your successes. You might think it’s impossible because you haven’t had any success, but I can assure you it’s not true. At the beginning you may ask your friends to give you a few ideas. Start keeping a success journal and write down everything that comes to your mind. Exactly everything. Start with childhood and end with the present.
5. Trust the praise of others
Hear the praise, believe it, and feel satisfied with yourself. Concentrate and memorize the praise you receive, and even create a journal of praise and rewards and read it frequently. Having such a list, do you still think they are really all undeserved? It is very unlikely. Additionally – at least for a while – forget about criticism, even the constructive one. Of course, there is always room for improvement, but at this stage I would like you to focus on the positives to raise your self-confidence.
6. The habit of praising yourself
Praise yourself for everything regularly and many times a day. Do it for smaller achievements and greater successes. Say to yourself, for example, “Bravo! You did great!”. You may praise yourself for the cooked dinner (even if – in your opinion – it is not perfect), or that you were on time at work (or that you were less late than usual), that you were kind to the shop assistant, that you cleaned the house, you walked the dog and picked up the kids from school. For completing a report or project (even if you are not fully satisfied with the outcome and you were late), for having a nice telephone conversation with someone you dislike, for not arguing with your mom or for arguing less than usual. Hope you already know what’s it is all about. Be proud of yourself every time. Practice being proud! Because you have reasons for this.
7. Realizing your own uniqueness
Be proud of your unique knowledge and experience you have gained. You probably think that your knowledge and experience is nothing special. That everyone knows and can do what you know and do. The reason you feel this was is because these things are obvious to you as you have dealt with them long enough and often enough. Please analyse, how often you have been performing certain tasks, which has allowed you to train them to perfection. Think, and maybe even write down, how many books you have read, how many trainings you have joined, how many mistakes you made and learned from them. Or maybe you’ve listened to podcasts or used other sources of information on a given topic to learn more. Now think how many people might have done all of this? Certainly, there is not a single person to be found anywhere. You are unique with your unique skills, the way you perform certain tasks, with the knowledge you have gained. Let this feeling permeate your body. Repeat this exercise often to get it rooted. And remember – what is easy for you – for others may even be impossible!
8. Acceptance of ignorance
Realize that you don’t have to be an omnibus. You are not able to know everything. It is neither impossible, nor it is necessary. Let’s think whether the successful people did everything by themselves or did they know everything? Read the biographies to find out. For example Edison – he didn’t make the light bulb himself, but he had a big team of scientists. Or Steve Jobs – he didn’t build the iPhone alone, but he had a team of technicians and endless financial possibilities. So accept the fact that you do not know everything, and never will. Moreover you do not need it at all. Instead, you can ask for help and advice! It helps a lot in life.
9. Stop comparing yourself to others
My guess is that you often compare yourself to others. You juxtapose their competences, knowledge, etc. with yours, unfortunately to your disadvantage. Why do you think everyone is better than you? Because you concentrate on competences which you do not have yourself and others have. How about taking into account your own competences, competences you poses, and juxtaposing them with others! The result would certainly be different (see points 5 and 6 in this article). So stop comparing yourself to others! Everyone is different. As I mentioned before – you have reasons to be proud. Keep recalling this truth. Accept yourself as you are.
For your self-esteem to be stable, it would be good to turn off your internal criticism and activate your own cheerleader. You can find an article on this topic on this page.
11. Ignore external criticism
In the process of weakening the impostor syndrome, it would also be helpful to deal with criticism, whether it is malicious or constructive. This is a vast topic, I encourage you to browse the internet. For example, you can watch this video.
12. Accept the mistakes
One of the aspects of the impostor syndrome is the panic of being wrong. As this is something that will show our presumed incompetence. Meanwhile, error is an indispensable part of life and the learning process.
Depending on how much impostor syndrome has been in your life, the healing process may take more or less time and tools. Be persistent, because life without the impostor syndrome has a completely different taste. I know something about this!
This article is the result of the „Wider Horizons” project, implemented by Development Support Foundation Innovator.
Project is co-financed by the European Union under Erasmus + Programme. (KA1 – Learning mobility of individuals, Mobility of adult education staff, Agreement No. 2020-1-PL01-KA104-079945).
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.
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