According to research at least 70% of the population experience Imposter Syndrome at least once in their lifetime, but it’ll show up differently for all of us.
Suffering from imposter syndrome is often invisible, with many of us feeling anxious and stressed without realising the cause. This means we need to tune in and recognise the signs for both ourselves and the people around us.
Words by YK Daily's resident life coach Amira Mansour @the_communicationexpert
Imposter Syndrome can leave you feeling inadequate, and in today’s world it’s easy to compare our own success with someone else, which perpetuates the cycle of self-doubt and leaves us feeling like we simply aren’t enough.
For some it’s the chronic overthinking of whether you’ve said the ‘right’ thing in that meeting, for others it’s the worry about whether you’ll be able to meet people’s expectations again and again or the concern about what people think of you.
How is it showing up for you? If it’s not the constant fear that you’re not really that qualified, then it could be downplaying your achievements, turning down new opportunities, avoiding feedback, second guessing yourself or even overworking to prove that you’re enough.
Let’s take a look at the five types of Imposter Syndrome and see how it’s showing up for you. And don’t be surprised if it’s showing up in more than one way!
If this is you, you judge yourself on how you do things. But the thing is you’re striving for a standard that doesn’t exist. When you don’t meet this standard (because it’s virtually impossible) you criticise yourself for not achieving them
The Natural Genius
This is when achievements come naturally and effortlessly to you. This means if something does require more work, it goes against your belief, “that you can handle anything”. This could make you feel ashamed, or ‘unsettled’ you didn’t get it straight away.
‘Should’ers believe you can do it all on your own, and that you should be able to handle it all. And the thought of asking for help isn’t an option, as that would mean you’re not capable, therefore you continue to fight and potentially struggle through on your own.
If you’re an expert, you like to feel prepared. You’ve created the expectation that you should have all the answers. When the moment eventually creeps in and you don’t know the answer, you’ll end up feeling like a fraud.
Are you doing it all? Pushing your limits in every role you take on, whether that's being a friend, partner, manager, parent, sibling and so. When the moments arise where you feel you can’t keep up with all the demands, you’re left feeling inadequate and not good enough.
Once you’ve identified how your Imposter Syndrome could be showing up, what can you actually do to limit this? Here are 5 tools to help you change this feeling once and for all. Because, whilst it may have arisen from different places including your childhood experiences or a high-pressured work environment, it’s important to pinpoint the habits you have that are prolonging your imposter syndrome.
1. Change Negative Self-Talk
Most of us have an inner dialogue going on every minute of everyday. It’s there to serve a purpose and can be super helpful, however, when you’re experiencing imposter syndrome, it's pretty likely this negative voice is going to take over, telling you whether you can or can’t do something.
You see, your brain is like a computer that’s been programmed in a way that’s functioning but not helpful, and negative self-talk is a habit that you can change, it may just take a little work and effort. Start by noticing what triggers your negative self-talk. Is it the feedback you’ve perceived as criticism, or is it the fact you’ve made a mistake? Once you’re aware of this, catch the negative thing you’re saying to yourself and reframe this into a less negative narrative.
2. Cultivate Self Compassion
Self-compassion is one of the most powerful tools to help combat the way you judge yourself. If you’re an overachiever used to setting high standards and constantly looking towards the next goal, this behaviour can sometimes become more harmful than good, and when we need to take a closer look.
If you find yourself beating yourself up and being overly critical, it’s likely you’re letting your Imposter Syndrome control you. Enter self-compassion. Speaking to yourself in a mean, judgmental voice isn’t the way you’d speak to someone you love. So, when you’re in this situation, ask yourself what would you say to a friend. And now say it to yourself.
3. Keep A Self-Gratitude Diary
Gratitude is a way of recognising what you’re doing well and a helpful way to start realising your value and worth. Try keeping a daily diary where you take note of the things that you appreciate, for example, “I’m grateful I woke up when my alarm went off and didn’t hit snooze,” or “I’m thankful I moved my body today”. The more you can do this on a consistent basis, the more you’ll retrain your brain to believe that you’re deserving of whatever opportunity lies in front of you.
4. Be Assertive
Being able to communicate assertively is a skill, not a personality trait. As you hone this, you’ll develop your level of self confidence and therefore reduce the feelings of imposter syndrome. Communicating in this way means you’re able to say what you need, and respect what other people need; it isn’t about whether you agree or not.
If you’re communicating aggressively, passively or passive aggressively then it’s coming from a place of fear. Even though you may not feel able to speak up or use your voice, start in a small way so you can cultivate a new habit that works for you.
5. Define Your Values
Your values are your compass for your life. When you get stuck, you come back to your values. When you’re feeling indecisive, you come back to your values. When you don’t know what step to take next, you come back to your values. With imposter syndrome it’s no different. It acts as a tool to help you define why you’re willing to take a risk, why you’re willing to be vulnerable.
Imposter Syndrome is something you’ve got used to experiencing but it doesn’t have to be something that stays with you for life. Use the tools above to change the way you see and value yourself. It’ll take work and consistency, but I promise you is totally worth it.
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