Have you ever felt like a fraud? Like you were faking it? Even in your everyday life? Then you may be suffering from imposter syndrome but you are not alone. In 2018, a national study revealed that 62% of adults in the UK suffered from imposter syndrome at work. Imposter syndrome affects both men and women and can leave people feeling anxious, frustrated and with low self esteem.
The first step to overcoming imposter syndrome is recognizing the symptoms that usually come up for you. Do you start to feel more anxious about going out? Or is there a sudden pressure at work to be as good as everyone else? It could be that you begin to feel like you are getting a lot of lucky breaks or that you feel that you have to work really hard to prove that you deserve to be in the position you are in? Noticing how imposter syndrome affects your emotions, mentality and even your physical body can really help in identifying when it is starting. This means we can nip it in the bud before it gets out of hand.
If you are past those early stages, notice how you feel, sit with that feeling just for a moment. How does it feel in your body? What emotion are you identifying? What are your thoughts? Is this thought yours or have you heard it from someone else in the past? Do you feel deserving of where you are now? If you are having trouble with these questions a counsellor can help you delve into the reason as to why you may be feeling this way.
Imposter syndrome can run deep in who we are and we may have experienced something growing up that made us feel less than or not worthy or it can be something that comes and goes. Either way here are five ways to deal with it:
1. Keeping a gratitude journal. Noting down 3 things that you are grateful for and why every evening is a good way to count your blessings and take a more positive outlook on life. As you do this, you may begin to notice things you are grateful for throughout the day as they appear.
2. You can speak to someone you trust or a professional. If you feel that your imposter syndrome is deep rooted and comes from your past experiences, you can speak to someone about how you are feeling. This can lead to reassurance in that you are fully capable and that you have worked hard to get to where you have in life. If you have acknowledged that this may be a belief that you hold you can also work with a professional to explore that.
3. Write down 10 things that you are good at and put it up where you can see it. The first bit can be challenging but what I have found is that we say things such as “I do the right thing” or “I am creative” these are things you are most likely good at too, so add the words and give yourself credit for what you are good at! “I am good at doing the right thing” and “I am good at being creative” – try and come up with at least 10 and read them every day to yourself.
4. Be kind to yourself. Quiet that critical self talk where you can. Treat yourself with love and respect where you can. Hold yourself, treat yourself often and be your own best friend. Would you tell your best friend that they are a fake? Or an imposter? Of course not, you would tell them how amazing and deserving they are and you are deserving of everything that you have. Be gentle with yourself and take each day as it comes. Give yourself credit for small things as well, like making it through that difficult meeting, going outside or even just allowing yourself time to rest.
5. Question your thoughts. Did you know that thoughts are not always true? You can challenge any thought that doesn’t sit right with you. Ask yourself, is this thought a fact or opinion? Usually our thoughts are opinion and we know that opinions are not always true. Once you have realised that the thought is not true, you can let it go. If you do believe that it is true but feel that you shouldn't, the imposter syndrome may lie deeper than you first thought. But don't fret, people can change and this can be changed too.
Hopefully these five steps will help you to overcome any imposter syndrome that you may feel. If you would like to book a counselling session with me please get in touch via the contact form on my website.