Defeating Imposter Syndrome

Picture this: you’ve just achieved an A in your exam, got a promotion, or had a public celebration of your achievements announced. But deep down inside, all you’re telling yourself is, “You’re a fraud.” Sound familiar? Welcome to Imposter Syndrome.

Before you worry too much, it’s important to realise that you’re not alone.  According to a study documented by the NIH, up to 82% of people within that study experienced imposter syndrome. It’s not limited to any certain demographic, either: people of all job roles, gender, race, and origin experience it.

Over and above this, before I go on I can reassure you with one fundamental truth: Imposter Syndrome is not evidence that you are inadequate.

So, what is imposter syndrome, exactly?

Imposter syndrome, as the name suggests, is the feeling of being a fraud, of not belonging, of not being worthy of your achievements, and of being exposed as an imposter at any moment. It’s that voice in your head that tells you that you’re not good enough, that you don’t deserve your success, and that you’re just faking it.

Now, you might think that imposter syndrome is something that only affects people who are new to a field or who are just starting out. But let me tell you, my dear reader, that imposter syndrome can affect anyone, no matter how successful or experienced they are. Yes, even those who have won Nobel prizes, Oscars, or Grammys can feel like imposters! For an example, Maya Angelou has verbally expressed this feeling: 

“I have written eleven books, but each time I think, ‘uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.'” – Maya Angelou

Defeating Imposter Syndrome

Why do we experience Imposter Syndrome?

Well, there are several reasons. For one, we live in a society that values success, achievement, and recognition above all else. We are constantly bombarded with messages that tell us we need to be the best, the brightest, the most talented, the most successful, and the most beautiful to be happy, loved, and respected. But when we do achieve some measure of success, we often feel like we don’t deserve it or that we just got lucky.

Another of the number of reasons we might feel like imposters is that we tend to compare ourselves to others. We see people who seem to be doing better than us, who are more successful, more talented, more confident, and more put-together, and we feel like we’re not measuring up. We forget that we are all unique individuals with our own strengths and weaknesses, and that we don’t need to be like anyone else to be valuable and worthy.

How to overcome imposter syndrome

Sometimes it feels hard to figure out the starting point when dealing with something so overwhelming. And although there are many effective strategies to approach and defeat imposter syndrome, here’s some that I know to be impactful. 

Acknowledge your reasons to believe: Sometimes you need a little reminder of the paths you have walked, and the battles already won. When you make a point to intentionally remember these, it refuels your beliefs and reminds you of what you’re actually capable of.

This might be as simple as writing down past achievements and struggles you’ve overcome. Or, it may be a case of you speaking with someone you trust and asking them to help you remember moments in your life where you experienced success because of your efforts and abilities.

Track your progress: Making progress tangible is an incredible way to boost your sense of capability. Best way to do this?
Whether it’s a check list, marks on a calendar, or through digital tools like the many apps you can find today to track progress, it all does the same thing: makes it visible!

Take your sense of achievement beyond performance and towards meaning: Performance is important and has a valid place in this world. But if you only have performance orientated goals, you’re missing out on tapping into the richer side of live, where there is meaning and purpose.
Create some goals that are “purpose driven” and “growth driven”. For an example, a purpose driven goal could be to increase your team’s engagement with each other. And a growth goal could be to read one page from your book every night. You may want to tie these goals into something that you’re specifically needing to grow confidence in, or you may want to make them totally unrelated. The choice is yours, and the intention is to focus on the achievement you are experiencing in other areas of your life.

Give yourself the grace card: we are all entitled to the grace card; more than we allow ourselves to believe. All too often, applying grace is seen as weak. But it’s quite the opposite: grace enables you to return to the challenge, to pick yourself up and try again. Don’t beat yourself up for making mistakes or for not being perfect. Treat yourself as you would treat a good friend who is going through a tough time. Practice self-care, such as getting enough sleep, eating well, exercising, and doing things that make you happy.

Practice healthy internal language: Mahatma Ghandi puts it perfectly, saying, “Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, your values become your destiny.” Not much else needs to be said on this other than, be careful what you say to yourself! Speak life, possibility, and love into your being. 

And lastly…talk about it: Sometimes you can find consolidation in the act of sharing your feelings with the people around you. You may receive feedback that reassures you that you are indeed doing a good job. But most of all, the power lies in realising you’re not alone. You’ll discover that many others around you have experienced these same feelings and understand the path you’re walking. It’s also important to remember that it’s okay to ask for help when you need it. No one knows everything, and everyone needs help from time to time. Don’t be afraid to seek out mentors, coaches, or therapists who can help you grow and learn.

Defeating Imposter Syndrome

Finally, remember that imposter syndrome is not something that you can completely get rid of. It’s a natural and normal part of the human experience, and it may come up from time to time. But by recognizing it, challenging it, and practicing self-care and self-compassion, you can learn to manage it and thrive despite it.

So, CAFE Life community, I hope this blog post has helped you understand imposter syndrome a bit better and given you some ideas on how to overcome it. Remember, you are not alone, and you are not a fraud. You are a unique and valuable individual with unimaginable capability to contribute, achieve, overcome, and thrive. 

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