7 Tips to deal with the Impostor Syndrome

The term impostor phenomenon was introduced in 1978 in the article "The Impostor Phenomenon in High Achieving Women: Dynamics and Therapeutic Intervention" by Dr. Pauline R. Clance and Dr. Suzanne A. Imes.

Impostor syndrome is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts skills, talents or accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a "fraud". Despite external evidence of their competence, those experiencing this phenomenon remain convinced that they are frauds, and do not deserve all they have achieved. Individuals with impostorism incorrectly attribute their success to luck, or interpret it as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent than they perceive themselves to be.

While early research focused on the prevalence among high-achieving women, impostor syndrome has been recognized to affect both men and women equally.The Impostor Syndrom is recognized and is to be considered by those who recognized themselve in this definition. The problem with this syndrom is that if you do not work on it intensively and regularly it wil be very difficult for you to overcome it.

The advice given to control and work on your Impostor Syndrom will only work if repeated and done on a long time period.

For those with Impostor Syndrom, they will need to work harder on their job interview preparation more than for those who don’t suffer from it.

As we have seen above, the Impostor Syndrom is in summary the difficulty to recognize that you can do great, you have skills and that you are able to achieve things without any chance or luck but simply because you have worked on it.

Therefore, in order to overcome this, you will need to use the same techniques as the ones given for the people who lack confidence or doubts about themselves permanently. The difference here is that you will focus your effort on your professional environment and the work you do or you want to do.

One thing we want to emphasize before to continue is that the Impostor Syndrom can arrive in everyone’s life at any moment.

Some factors may trigger it but often it is difficult to understand why it happens. For all those reasons, be diligent to yourself and if you have already recognized that you have it, you made a huge step.

When you know about it the next question is what do you do about it?

Here are few exercice, tips and advices that you will follow in order to get rid of this syndrom.

Once again, you need to commit on working on these following list consistantly.

1. Practice positive thinking

This is a concept used frequently and in many fields but it works! What you need to do is to practice the positive thinking in your situation in your thoughts and in your behavior.

During the day there are many occasions where you can decide rather or not you want to see the situation in a positive or negative way. All you have to do is to prevent negative thoughts taking over.

To start with, try to practice these sentences:

  • I was able to achieve because I did ..

  • I am proud of myself because ...

  • I was good and next time I will focus on …

  • I am happy that this happened because of ...

As you do it every day and you carry on with making your thoughts positive, it will become natural.

Ensure that everytime you have a negative thought, you stop it, you recognize it and you work on it by turning it into something positive. Subject about day to day life, work, relationship, etc. can all be turned into positive experiences if you want it, it all depends on how you see it.

2. Surround yourself with positive people and avoid negative ones

Sometimes our relationship makes it harder for us to move forward. Especially the ones who have been there for long and are talking to us negatively. Recognize in your environment who bring positive thoughts and who does not. Try to spend much more time with the ones who help you see things positively. If you cannot completely avoid the negative ones, prepare yourself to block the thoughts they would discuss and the feeling they will share with you which could make you feel bad. We underestimate the impact of other on us when they are part of our day to day life.

3. Write down every day 3 things you are proud of

“I used to do it for some months when I realized I did not need it anymore” said one of our customer because she did not have to think anymore about the think she was proud of. She made this action an habit first ,taking concrete action everyday enabling herself to take her notebook and pen. It eventually became easier to execute over the time and now she would automatically think everyday of the 3 things she was proud of. “Sometimes we do it at family dinner, or in a sunny afternoon. It feels even greater to do it in a group.” She said.

4. Celebrate your achievement

An important part of working on your feeling of impostor is to celebrate when you have accomplished something. Many people once they have accomplished something would seek for the next thing to do. Instead pause for a moment and appreciate everything you learned or did and be proud of yourself. Speak up about your experience with people who will be happy for you.

5. Start training yourself to veer away from external validation.

This is an issue many employees have, they seek for approbation approval and congratulations for the work they do. The problem is that in companies not all managers are trained to recognize achievement and sometimes your own achievement won’t be noticed directly. So learn to be proud of yourself and not waiting for someone else to tell you that what you are doing is good. There are many reasons why your boss would not tell you you have done a great job.

6. Seeing yourself as a work in progress.

Too many people want to achieve things quickly and won’t be satisfied about the work they do unless it is 100 % completed. Don’t wait for this but instead celebrate small success and be proud of every little step you take.

7. Ask for help

Another part that contribute to make the feeling of impostor is also for people to think that they need to achieve everything alone. This contribute to create failure with taking yourself more time to accomplish or more energy. Instead recognize that you cannot do everything alone and ask for help everytime you need.

The Impostor syndrome is shown by studies to be felt at least once by 70% of employees in their professional life time.

Some will feel it for a long time and will prevent them to find the confidence and the courage to either go and get a promotion or simply feel great about themselves.

Don’t wait before to take action and work on it as soon as you recognize it.

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