what is imposter syndrome and how can you overcome it? #stressawarenessmonth

There’s a reoccurring theme cropping up in the media as of late, something that I’ve never heard of until recently but can ultimately relate to. It’s estimated that a staggering 70% of high achievers have been affected by the psychological phenomenon, ‘Imposter Syndrome’ at some point during their career. (See more here on how you can ‘de-stress’ and the importance of looking after your mental wellbeing).

What is Imposter syndrome?

‘Imposter syndrome’ was first identified as a legitimate issue within the working world in 1978 by psychologists Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes. It occurs when a sufferer feels like their successes are undeserved, that they are inadequate at their job and their achievements are false. Unlike other forms of anxiety that drain confidence, Imposters Syndrome means that any success heightens the effects of the anxious feelings, as sufferers believe that their illusion of certainty will become transparent to those around them and that their achievements will be seen as undeserving or even ‘fraudulent’.

How do you identify Imposters syndrome?

Other typical symptoms of Imposters Syndrome include; consistently overworking, people pleasing and convincing ones-self that any successes are based on luck, timing or coincidence, which in some cases can lead to stress-induced depression. High achieving people often doubt themselves and while both men and women experience the syndrome, studies have shown that typically women are more likely to be affected due to feeling that their work automatically has a greater chance of being discredited, trivialized and taken less seriously than their male counterparts.

What steps can be taken to overcome Imposters syndrome?

If you find yourself suffering from a feeling of inadequacy within your workplace, it could be that you’re suffering from imposter’s syndrome. Here are some simple measures that you can take to limit negative impact:

  1. Identify the issue: The first step is to identify and acknowledge that you’re experiencing these feelings. Accepting you feel a certain way can be the first stepping stone to managing the problem. Can you specify exactly what it is that is making you doubt yourself?
  2. Disclose your thoughts: Speak to someone! Choose someone you trust and confide in them about how you’re feeling. Getting an outsiders perspective on the situation and articulating how you feel can help you to get your thoughts together and think rationally. The chances are, whoever you choose to speak to may have felt a similar way before, meaning you can both share and learn from your experience.
  3. Know your worth: Think about everything you’ve achieved, make a list if it helps. Downplaying your successes won’t help anyone. Accept the fact that you’ve got where you are, stop focusing on the negatives and be kind to yourself! Ask yourself ‘what’s the worst that can happen’, and if ever you doubt yourself, try to perceive the situation as an opportunity to learn as opposed to an automatic set up for failure.
  4. Switch up your language: Think about the way you talk about yourself and the type of language you use. Confidence starts from within and if you can teach yourself to think and speak in a more assertive, confident manner then you are more likely to start believing more in what you’re saying.
  5. Don’t be afraid to ask questions: Have you ever avoided asking a question because you’re scared of looking stupid? So has everyone else at some point! Always assume that your questions are valid, after all, you won’t be the only one to have them. More than anything it will show initiative as opposed to incompetence.
  6. Comparison isn’t healthy: It is so easy in this day and age to compare yourself to others, especially when people love to document both their personal and working successes on every single social media platform. There is no point in comparing other people’s highs to your lows, everyone overcomes their own unique set of challenges differently.
  7. Keep going! Dedication and the courage to keep going is key. Appreciate that you are where you are because of your own achievements. The best way to beat Imposters syndrome is to continue taking action, take any criticism in a constructive manner and to remain positive.

There’s no shame in asking for help, nor is there any shame in being proud of your achievements. Accept and embrace your capabilities and don’t be shy to share your expertise with others, and above all else believe in yourself! polkadotfrog is proud to offer support and advice to all of our candidates and clients when finding a suitable fit for a role, always ensuring a smooth recruitment transition.