How to Conquer Imposter Syndrome

Do you struggle with feeling like a fraud?

Do you ever feel like you have no idea what you’re doing at work or in school? You might be questioning if you landed the job or scholarship through luck. You feel like you’re waiting for your colleagues to figure out your incompetency. You’re not alone. It’s reportedthat about 70% of people experience the same thoughts and feelings at some point in life.

It’s called imposter syndrome.

Psychologists, Suzanne Imes and Pauline Rose Clance, were the first to notice the phenomenon of high achieving people that were struggling to accept their successes as valid.  They noticed that these people felt that luck or happenstance drove their success, rather than their abilities.

Here are some indicators of Imposter Syndrome:

  • Self-doubt or feeling inadequate
  • Questioning your worth
  • Fearing that you do not meet others’ expectations
  • Getting caught up on your mistakes and diminishing achievements
  • Perfectionism tendencies
  • Feeling like your work is never enough

These thoughts often lead to feelings of anxiety or low mood. You may recognize the familiar cycle: you’re unsure if your abilities are up to par, which makes you feel insecure, which brings us back to square one.

Let’s break that cycle!

How to Conquer Imposter Syndrome

Recognizing and acknowledgement of imposter syndrome are great first steps. Here are a few ways to conquer your imposter feelings:

Observe your thoughts. When do you start to feel inadequate? Is there evidence to support your thought? Question whether the thought is serving you well or adding to your distress.

Put it in perspective.Think about your accomplishments. Could you have really fooled everyone? Can you find exceptions to feeling like an imposter? Consider what skills or talents have helped you. Think of positive feedback you’ve received.

Imagine telling your boss or professor that you tricked them (click here to read more). How would they respond? They would likely be confused or surprised. If you have not received feedback that you are not meeting expectations, chances are that you are meeting expectations. Odds are that they would affirm your qualifications and dismiss your idea that you weaseled your way into your position or test score.

Confide in others. Remember, 70% of people have felt the same way at various points in life. They may have tips for how they pushed through feelings of inadequacy. Shame expert, Dr. Brene Brown,reminds us that shame is best overcome through vulnerability. Talk to someone you trust, maybe a colleague, friend or mentor. This will help take away the secrecy component of imposter syndrome. If you tell someone, you take away the power it has over you.

Practice self-compassion (click here to read more). You are not the first or the last person to experience imposter syndrome feelings. Acknowledge the your suffering and respond to yourself with kindness. Beating yourself up for not being enough will add to your hardship. Responding with compassion creates space to break the cycle.

Try practicing these tips to see if you can conquer imposter syndrome! If you’re struggling to work through it on your own, please reach out to schedule a time with one of our therapists. We would love to work with you!

Written by: Taylor Walker, Mental Health Therapist at Lincoln Park Therapy Group

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If you’re in the Chicago area and interested in therapy services, you can learn more about starting here. Or if you’re ready to get started, reach out to us and schedule an appointment.