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What is Imposter Syndrome? (5 Tips to Overcome it)

Updated: Dec 20, 2023

You've heard of it before, but what exactly is Imposter Syndrome? And how can you overcome it? Let's take a closer look.

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Imposter Syndrome is defined as "a pattern of behavior where people doubt their accomplishments and have a persistent, often internalized fear of being exposed as a fraud." Some of the symptoms of Imposter Syndrome include:

  • Self-doubt

  • Perfectionism

  • Impostor thoughts (e.g., "I'm not good enough," "I got lucky," etc.).

Interestingly, Imposter Syndrome is not limited to those who have accomplished little; in fact, many highly successful people suffer from it.


Some well-known examples include Maya Angelou, Tom Hanks, and Tina Fey. So, if even successful people feel like impostors sometimes.


The question is, how can we avoid or overcome it?


Here are some tips:


Here is a great TED-Ed video about imposter syndrome that I would definitely recommend giving a watch/listen.


1. Acknowledge your feelings and talk about them with someone you trust.

Overcoming imposter syndrome is a matter of acknowledging your achievements and accepting that you have earned your success.


It is also important to reframe your thinking when it comes to failure. Instead of viewing failures as evidence that you are not qualified, see them as opportunities to learn and grow.


Remember that everyone experiences imposter syndrome from time to time, even the most successful people. It's important to not let it hold you back from reaching your full potential.


2. Be mindful of your self-talk and negative thinking patterns.

One of the most effective strategies is to be mindful of your self-talk and negative thinking patterns.


(Because self-talk and negative thinking are what got you there in the first place.)


Our thoughts have a powerful impact on our emotions and behavior, so it's important to learn how to identify and challenge distorted thinking and false beliefs.


So what do we do about it?


For instance, if you find yourself thinking "I'm not good enough," try to counter that with evidence to the contrary. Replace negative thoughts with positive affirmations, such as "I am capable and qualified."


With time and practice, you can retrain your brain to think more positively about yourself and your abilities.


This is absolutely vital when it comes to changing your mindset.


3. Celebrate your successes, no matter how small they may seem.

Did you get up and eat breakfast this morning? Good job! Did you know that 99.9% of millionaires do the same thing?


It's important to remember that your successes are real, no matter how small they may seem.


Every time you achieve something, big or small, take a moment to celebrate your accomplishment. This can help you to start seeing yourself as the capable person that you are.


Additionally, try to avoid comparing yourself to others. It's easy to feel like a fraud when you compare your accomplishments to those of someone who seems to have it all together. But everyone has their own unique journey, and you're exactly where you're supposed to be.


So instead of comparing yourself to others, focus on your own progress and celebrate each and every success, no matter how small.


It's much easier said than done, but it's definitely possible. I promise.


4. Practice self-compassion and cut yourself some slack.

Practice self-compassion.


Cut yourself some slack and give yourself credit for your accomplishments.


Remember that everyone makes mistakes and that even the most successful people have moments of self-doubt.


Be kind to yourself and permit yourself to be imperfect. With time and practice, you can overcome imposter syndrome and build the confidence you need to succeed.


Something like this just takes time and practice. It helps if you try and figure something out that helps remind you to practice self-compassion.


5. Seek professional help if you need it.

If you find that imposter syndrome is impacting your ability to function in your everyday life, it may be time to seek professional help.


I always say that I believe everybody on this planet should have both a therapist and a life coach.


A therapist can help you to understand and manage the thoughts and emotions that are associated with imposter syndrome.


In addition, they can provide you with tools and strategies for dealing with imposter syndrome when it arises.


If you are struggling with imposter syndrome, seeking professional help can be an important step in overcoming this obstacle.


How to help clients overcome imposter syndrome

So what if you have clients that struggle with imposter syndrome?


As mentioned before, individuals who suffer from imposter syndrome often feel as though they are not worthy of success or that they have somehow managed to achieve their goals through luck or deception.


Use the same principles laid out in this article with your clients.


Encourage them to continually do things that are just a bit beyond their comfort level. This helps them to realize that many tasks are easier than expected and that they are capable of more than they give themselves credit for.


Additionally, it is important to reassure the client that everyone experiences self-doubt at times and that there is no shame in seeking help.


With patience and understanding, clients can overcome imposter syndrome and learn to embrace their accomplishments.


Conclusion


Imposter Syndrome is a common condition that affects people of all walks of life—even successful ones.


If you're struggling with self-doubt or negative thoughts about your abilities, know that you're not alone.


Talk to someone you trust, be mindful of your self-talk, celebrate your accomplishments, and seek professional help if necessary.


With time and effort, you can overcome Imposter Syndrome and build the confidence you need to succeed.


Frequently Asked Questions

How can I tell if I have imposter syndrome?

Common signs of imposter syndrome include feelings of inadequacy, self-doubt, and an inability to accept compliments. If you're experiencing these signs regularly, you may be dealing with imposter syndrome.


Is imposter syndrome a real thing?

Yes, imposter syndrome is a very real condition that affects many people. Talk to someone you trust if you think you may be struggling with imposter syndrome.


How can I help myself or someone else overcome imposter syndrome?

To help yourself or someone else overcome imposter syndrome, focus on building self-confidence and self-compassion through small successes. It's also important to talk to someone you trust about your experiences and seek professional help if necessary. With patience and understanding, it is possible to overcome this condition and move forward in life with confidence.


Is it possible to prevent imposter syndrome?

While there is no surefire way to prevent imposter syndrome, there are steps that you can take to reduce your risk of developing it. These include recognizing perfectionistic tendencies, celebrating small successes, engaging in positive self-talk, and seeking professional help if necessary. Taking these steps can help you cultivate the confidence needed to succeed and ultimately prevent imposter syndrome from taking hold.




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