Imposter Syndrome: 7 Ways to Deal With, and Overcome, a Profound Lack of Confidence
by AnnaMarie Houlis
Everyone deals with a lack of confidence from time to time. But when those feelings turn unshakeable, and start getting in the way of personal peace of mind, it might be an indication of imposter syndrome.
Impostor syndrome refers to the phenomenon when an individual internalizes their accomplishments, due to fear of being exposed as a “fraud.” Those with imposter syndrome are psychologically uncomfortable with acknowledging their role in their own success, but their negative thoughts (often referred to as “cognitive distortions”) are based on anxiety, rather than objective facts.
Impostor syndrome may vary in origin – it could stem from the ways in which we’re socially conditioned, for example, or our unique circumstances, such as being the only female at a male-dominated job, or growing up as an only child to parents with high standards.
Here are steps you can take to identify and overcome your unique imposter syndrome patterns:
1. Identify Signs of Imposter Syndrome
Naming a challenge is usually the first step to overcoming it. Having a framework to understand what you’re going through, and knowing that many people experience the same feelings, can provide some initial comfort.
Symptoms of imposter syndrome often include:
Extreme lack of self confidence
Feelings of inadequacy
Constant comparison to other people
Distrust in one’s own intuition and capabilities
Dwelling on the past
Irrational fears of the future
2. Remember that success is subjective
Success is subjective – it’s as simple as that. What success looks like to one person might not be your idea of success, and vice versa.
As much as you’re able, avoid personal comparisons – because whether it’s scrolling through a co-worker’s LinkedIn or feeling like a failure after a brunch with your seemingly super successful gal pals, you’re really just draining yourself, rather than filling your strengths.
Try getting clear on how you measure success, and what goals feel important for you to accomplish. Write your thoughts in a journal or talk with a trusted friend, and refer back to your personal aspirations when you feel yourself becoming stressed out by the successes of others.
3. Ask yourself caring, compassionate questions
Asking yourself questions of a caring and compassionate nature can trace back negative self-beliefs to their source.
In asking yourself these questions, like “What accomplishments have I made to get here?” you can remind yourself of your valid successes thus far.
Positive thinking is something that our brains actually need to practice. It’s very easy for your mind to learn and get stuck in negative thinking patterns. Actively practicing positive self-talk can help interrupt toxic thought cycles and retrain your brain to think affirming thoughts!
4. Set boundaries around systems or individuals who detract from your personal wellness and growth
Take stock of those who are close to you, and get real about what type of energy they bring to the relationship. Remove toxic energy from your life by disconnecting yourself from negative relationships or, at the very least, detaching yourself from the pressures and negativity from those relationships.
If there are people in your life who don’t support you or lift you up, consider cutting them out, or at least take their advice with a grain of salt. If you do end a toxic friendship, make sure to take care of yourself afterwords.
5. Take ownership of objective successes
It’s easier to swallow your successes when they’re irrefutable.
If you’re working in a mixed group setting, take ownership of the parts of projects that have objective performance indicators, for example. Likewise, take on work for which you’re uniquely qualified, so that the value of your input is undeniable.
Find ways, even small ones, to acknowledge your successes to yourself and with people close to you. Challenge yourself to share something you are proud of with a friend or family member, or even plan a small gathering to celebrate a recent accomplishment. Then challenge yourself further to take their excitement and validation to heart.
6. Perform consistent self-care check ins
Do you have a self-care routine? Have you checked in with yourself recently to determine if all of your needs are being met? If you feel good and your body and mind are well taken care of, your confidence can flourish.
Self-care can come in many forms – from going to therapy once a week, to reciting affirmative mantras in the mirror every morning. Whatever you choose, be sure to take care of yourself mentally as much as you do physically.
After all, a clear mind will help you to see your successes for what they are: Successful.
7. Speak with a therapist
Talking to a trusted therapist can help you reframe situations from an objective perspective, and provide you with resources for healthy growth. You can watch videos and book free initial calls with the right counselor for you on Zencare.co.
Imposter syndrome is tough, especially because one of the lies it tells you is that you are the only person feeling this way. In reality, lots of people struggle with this and it’s totally possible to work through it and cultivate confidence. You deserve to be proud of all you have and will continue to accomplish!