Updated: Feb 10
"Imposter Syndrome" affects everyone at one time or another. It can be really frustrating and downright crippling when it prevents you from being where you want to be in life. Imposter syndrome is basically the false belief that you don't have what it takes to be successful. You may think you're not as competent as others perceive you to be, or your education or experience are not enough to get you promoted. Whatever the reasons, they hold you back, preventing you from achieving the success you are seeking.
Imposter syndrome often expresses itself in people who suffer from low self-esteem and self-consciousness. They think people over-analyze them or look down on them because they are just not good enough. In most people though, it's a result of perfectionism, or self-imposed standards that are impossible to achieve.
Any motivational speaker will tell you that you alone are responsible for the lack in your life because of your beliefs about what you are not.
Imposter syndrome usually emerges when you are on the brink of a major achievement you have been working towards for quite some time. You may be so used to just making it that you're secretly afraid of success. This is common. The indelible comfort zone of never making it big is a safe place. Anything beyond it could be scary.
There is no getting around it, though. If you want to achieve great success in life, your self-sabotaging behaviors will have to be addressed. There are things you can do to overcome them if you are willing to do the work. You need to be completely honest with yourself and question the beliefs you hold. Do you believe you deserve to be successful? If not, why? Do you believe you are worthy? Why not? Where did these beliefs originate? Who made you feel you weren't good enough? Why did this person or people make you feel that way? Did they actually come right out and say you don't measure up, or did you just assume that? Break it all down bit by bit. A lot of the beliefs we hold come from past feelings or experiences that really have no relevance now. If you can "reframe" those unpleasant experiences by perceiving them in a more optimistic light, they will no longer prevent you from taking risks and achieving great things.
Fear is also a huge factor in imposter syndrome. It is actually considered to be the root cause of it. Fear of appearing foolish in front of people you want to impress. Fear of letting your loved ones down. Fear that you just don't cut it. Whatever the fear is it is crippling, and as long as it grips you it will prevent you from moving any further towards your goals. As strong-held as your fears may be though, they can be overcome simply by recalling your past achievements and posting them where you can readily see them. Clearly seeing all your educational achievements and skills in full view is really empowering and a constant reminder of what you are capable of. Post a detailed log on your fridge, or on the wall of a room you spend a lot of time in. Are your degree's or diploma's visible somewhere in your home or workplace? Dig them out and hang them up in a prominent place. You need to remind yourself often what it took to earn them; determination, persistence, and intelligence. These are all highly sought-after skills that should never be taken for granted.
One thing you should never do is compare yourself to others. If there is anything that can give you a reason to question your abilities this is it. I know social media doesn't make it easy because of its' focus on flawlessness and perfection, but nothing in life is perfect and if you know anything about filters you will clearly recognize this. Beyond the facade of beauty, you should know that most social media influencers tried and failed over and over before they finally discovered what works and what doesn't. Although they may appear to be overnight successes, trust me they're not. It took years for most of them to get their profiles noticed and gain a lot of followers. Definitely look to them for creative ideas and inspiration but don't think you'll never be as good as them, because you will.
Negative self-talk is another crippling behavior that holds you back. We all do it, it's just some of us have become alert to it and quell it as soon as it pops up. Start paying attention to your little voices and what they are telling you. The negative ones are based in fear, nothing else. Every time you get a negative thought, replace it with a positive one. You can do it. You do have enough experience. You are intelligent. Thoughts very quickly become habitual so when you consistently replace your negative thoughts with positive affirmations, they soon automatically become the norm for you.
Any irrational self-doubts you have can also be eliminated by confiding in loved ones or friends whom you trust. These are the people who know you well, and they will shoot down your trepidation in an instant. Even trustworthy peers can do this for you. You spend more time with them than your family so they are key people to seek assurance from and restore your confidence.
Another great way to overcome imposter syndrome is through service to others. Not only is it empowering, it takes the focus off you and onto someone in need for awhile. Grateful people do wonders for building confidence in your abilities. It's a win-win!
Positive-thinking gurus know it's true! You must believe you are worthy and capable of achieving success in order for it to be so. Thoughts are things that create concrete realities. Thoughts lead to feelings that lead to actions that lead to success. It's basic behavioral psychology. And it works.