Imposter Syndrome can be one heck of a problem!
From feeling like you don’t deserve your success to dealing with self-doubt and other insecurities- it truly impacts our personal growth and development. While imposter syndrome might seem like a challenging and lonely path, it’s important to remember that many highly successful people also fall victim to it! You read that right. In fact, let me give you an example. Have you ever heard of Einstein- the guy who discovered the theory of relativity? Mr. Einstein used to feel like a fraud as well.
And here’s something funny- even as I sat down to prep for this topic- guess what happened? I ended up facing the mighty imposter syndrome. I wondered if I was qualified enough to talk about this topic or if I had any required skills. All this happened despite my years and years of experience with public speaking and being a CEO of a major company. That just goes to show just how common this problem is.
Sometimes, dealing with such feelings might be really scary. You never know what to do or how to do it- but what if I tell you that you don’t have to feel that way? It’s time to say goodbye to feeling like a fraud and hello to the confident new you.
Before we get into all of that, let’s talk about imposter syndrome.
What is Imposter Syndrome?
Let me get something straight- this isn’t the problem you only face once. In reality, self-doubt and insecurity are something that will continue bugging you over and over. They’re just part and parcel of imposter syndrome. This is why sometimes, you might feel like you don’t really belong- no matter how capable you are.
All this is caused by a psychological condition where your negative thoughts and feelings can influence your mindset. This results in you feeling like you are wearing a mask, and no matter what your achievements are, it will still feel like you’re not worthy of them.
I’ll share something personal here. While doing my undergrad at FAST NUCES, I occasionally dabbled in the world of theatre. It ended up becoming a serious hobby for me, and I even won multiple awards for my performances. But, at the end of the day, no matter how many awards I got or what sort of experience I had under my belt- as soon as I stepped onto that stage and POOF… it would all go away just like that! Usually, I would feel like everyone else around me was much more talented than I was and that I had no right to share the stage with them. Later, I learned how to control it. It took me quite a lot of time to get do it, and even now, I sometimes feel like I am at step one- but it’s a process.
I was able to come up with three simple strategies that helped me overcome my fears and stand strong in the face of imposter syndrome. Before I get into any of that, we need to see what we’re dealing with.
Causes of Imposter Syndrome
Now, that’s a whole other can of worms, but if we were to narrow it down, you might be feeling this way because of the following:
Your past failures, negative feedback, and criticism can considerably impact how you react to new tasks and challenges. It could be because your parents were not as supportive of your interests when you were growing up as you would’ve liked. Or your friends don’t really understand your passion. All these negative feelings could lead to feelings of self-doubt, affecting your productivity.
We tend to compare ourselves to others to understand better what we’re doing and where we should be. But here’s a tip: that’s pretty much the worst thing you could do to yourself. Remember, when you compare yourself to others, you forget the privilege they’ve been gifted with. Who knows? Maybe their achievements are actually based on pure luck. Maybe they were in the right place at the right time. All of this needs to be considered before you compare yourself to others. Better yet, don’t do that at all. Instead, you should focus on your own journey.
This is where high standards come into play once again. Hustle culture is probably one of the most significant contributors to imposter syndrome. In today’s era, we believe that if we’re not perfect, then we’re not doing anything right. That’s really wrong and leads to a bad attitude towards work that can be highly toxic and unhealthy. You don’t need to be working around the clock to get somewhere. Instead, it’s all about being a smart worker.
Now, this one deserves an honorable mention of its own. Our society, especially in South Asia, has the bizarre concept of “What will people say?”. This cultivates negative thoughts and undermines self-confidence. It’s time we got over this collectively and took charge of our own journey.
All these factors combined result in the piling up of negative thoughts and emotions. In the end, it often comes out in ugly ways and symptoms.
Symptoms of Imposter Syndrome
If you’re lucky enough to be blissfully unaware of this phenomenon, then here’s something that could help. Think of Imposter Syndrome as a shape-shifting being that could manifest itself in your life in various ways. All these are seriously dangerous and could impact your well-being or maybe even a loved one. It might be tough to recognize its presence sometimes. But here are some tell-tale signs that would give you the head-start!
Dealing with Self-Doubt
This is definitely the most common and obvious symptom of Imposter Syndrome. Feelings of insecurity and vulnerability undermine your confidence and make you feel like you’re not good enough. When dealing with such a problem, you’ll begin to question your abilities and achievements, dismissing your capabilities and looking down upon yourself! I know it sounds bad, but that’s not all. Chances are you’ll probably believe that your accomplishments resulted from luck.
Fear of Failure
Right next to persistent self-doubt comes a whole serving of fear. Those going through imposter syndrome will take failure as total rejection. It’s really common to see them getting really anxious about making mistakes. This only leads to people NEVER taking risks or seizing new opportunities. It might even lead them to run away from constructive criticism or feedback. People going through imposter syndrome tend to forget that embracing failure is a good thing that helps them with their professional development and otherwise.
Everyone on this planet wants to be perfect. That’s pretty much what we’re all looking for in our fields of interest. But sometimes, perfection results in a bit of a bind for us. In its pursuit, we often set extremely high standards for ourselves, grossly overestimating our capabilities. And then, guess what happens? Disappointment- that only leads to self-doubt. It becomes a ruthless cycle that has nary an escape. Such a feeling can lead to over-workers who’re trying their best to seek validation through consistent, exhaustive efforts.
When going through imposter syndrome, it’s common to feel your achievements are not your own. You might think that you’re successful only because you were in the right place at the right time, or it was simply pure luck. That’s a really undercutting way to think about your accomplishments. Instead, you need to give yourself a well-deserved pat on the back because accomplishments are accomplishments- whether small or big!
Okay, now that we know about this problem- let’s talk about overcoming Imposter Syndrome.
How to deal with Imposter Syndrome
Three simple strategies will make your life much easy.
Strategy Number 1: Recognize Your Achievements!
Imposter Syndrome makes life fast-paced, and you’ll find that catching a breath can get tricky. So, let’s start with just that. Relax and take a good look at all your achievements. You’ve probably been overcoming challenges for a while now. Take your journey as an inspiration and know that if you can make it till here, then there’s no mountain too tall for you. Apart from this, you really need to stop comparing yourself with others. Comparison leads to unhealthy thoughts and takes away all your motivation.
Strategy Number 2: Embrace your Failure!
This might be a little tough initially, but it’s crucial for building self-confidence and self-esteem. You’ve probably heard many people say failure is a part of success. Well, it’s time you take it to heart. Don’t take them as a rejection but embrace failures as a learning opportunity where your mistakes will only help guide you to success.
Strategy Number 3: Become a part of a Community!
A supportive community can do wonders when it comes to creating a positive mindset. You need to surround yourself with people who have had similar experiences. This way, they can pull you out if you’re getting sucked in by your fears. It’s important to remember that you’re not alone in this, and there’s a network of people with the same problem as you. It makes the entire thing look relatively less scary.
My Personal Strategy
That said, I would like to share with you how I deal with Importer Syndrome.
For me, my worst enemy is regret. Not being able to pursue my true passion and then later regretting it is something that terrifies me. So, I’m always trying to avoid feeling this way. This helps me stop running after perfection and start making an effort. It’s all about giving my best. If that’s our end goal, we will definitely be able to make a positive impact.
With such a mindset, you’ll easily manage self-doubt and negative thoughts without them taking over your mind!
Getting over imposter syndrome is the first step towards self-improvement to help you fulfill your life purpose.
In conclusion, the journey of overcoming imposter syndrome is not an easy one. But, I can assure you that it’s one worth making because friends, the other side is filled with bliss and confidence. It’s no doubt that somedays you’ll feel worse than ever, while somedays you might be floating on cloud 9. But, all this is part of becoming the new you. Reflecting on my own struggles, I am reminded that this problem is definitely not a one-off this, but it can be overcome through persistent effort and a positive mindset. Believe me, with the right support, you will unlock your full potential and become the version of yourself you were always meant to be.