How to Cope with Imposter Syndrome

What do David Bowie, Serena Williams, Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep have in common?

At some point in their lives, they have all suffered from Imposter Syndrome.

Kathryn Dorgan, a clinical psychologist based in New Zealand describes Imposter Syndrome as a belief that “despite your achievements, experience and talent, you’re ultimately unqualified for what you’re doing – that you’re a phoney, and it’s only a matter of time before everyone realises it.”

It’s your inner critic running wild with the idea that you’re not good enough and any success you’ve had is just by luck and foolery. Some people might think Imposter Syndrome is normal – the green monster on your shoulder you have to kick to the curb every now and then. When in actual fact, Imposter Syndrome can limit your courage to go after new opportunities, explore potential areas of interest and stop you from aiming for life-changing goals.

So, what can you do to mitigate the negative effects of Imposter Syndrome?

• Recognise your own Imposter Syndrome 

Actively listen to your self-talk so you can be aware of when your inner critic starts to get loud. Awareness is always the first step to change. So, make sure you are monitoring and tracking these imposter thoughts. 

•  Create new mental pathways

When you recognise yourself falling into the pit of negative self-talk make sure you remind yourself that it’s normal not to know everything and to feel a little scared. Talk to others about their experience with Imposter Syndrome, as well as sharing your own experience – I promise you, you’re not alone and you will feel better for it. 

•  Realise that failure is the key to success

This may be the most overused cliché of all time – but for a good reason, it’s true! It’s no secret that failure is scary, but it’s also inescapable. Everyone you know will fail at something across their life, even the most successful of them. The best and most useful way forward from failure is to learn from it and to keep trying. “The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” – Thomas Edison. 

• Be your own cheerleader

Frequently and actively remind yourself what you’re great at and make sure to acknowledge when you’ve had a big achievement. We always beat ourselves up over the little mistakes and hardly reward ourselves when we’ve accomplished one of our big goals- we just move onto the next one. This is a terrible cycle and we must do everything we can to break it! Take time to remember what you are grateful for – externally and internally – and let this bring you back down to the reality of your success and talent.

• Visualise your success

Finish this sentence – If I knew I would succeed I would…

Now, go out and do it. The only thing that is stopping you, is you.

By Samantha McGinn

Need a confidence booster for a team leader promotion?

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