Have your ever suffered from imposter syndrome? It’s that feeling that you don’t belong here, that you are in some way a fraud. You think that at any moment everyone else is going to discover that you only got to where you are in work or in life by chance.
Most of us have felt this at some point in our lives. In a recent survey in May 2021, HR News discovered that 85% of the people they surveyed struggled with a feeling of incompetence/lack of self worth at work in the last 3 years, with the male/female split being 80%/90%.
It’s not fact, it may not be based in truth in any form, but imposter syndrome can present significant challenges to otherwise skilled and competent individuals. It is pernicious, it creates self doubt and undermines confidence. So like the gremlins of one of my favourite films, imposter syndrome needs to be exposed to the bright light of reality so it will let go of its grip on how you see/feel about yourself.
Where does imposter syndrome come from?
Our background & culture can have an impact. Contrary to early studies, imposter syndrome isn’t just something women suffer from, although studies have shown more women than men tend to struggle with it. There is newer research linking it to people who are part of a minority group of any type.
Certain personality types are more likely to suffer from imposter syndrome than others. One particular influence can be the level of perfectionism we strive for – perfectionists
Self reliance – the go it alones. Do you ever think that you should be able to do everything yourself? Whilst it is great to be a self starter, we work better together sometimes and that feeling of SHOULD can lead to reduced self confidence and even imposter syndrome if we are not careful.
Stepping out of your comfort zone can create a feeling of imposter syndrome, if we are hard on ourselves. Imagine you are the person who has always been good at their job and then who is promoted into a new area. You are stretched and challenged and sometimes you don’t get it right. For someone who has always done well before this new learning curve can sometime feel very steep and confidence zapping. It can even lead to imposter syndrome if you feel you have taken a step too far rather than patting yourself on the back for the stretch you are making.
So do your doubt yourself, comparing yourself to others and focussing on the imperfections that we all have has human beings.
Or are you able to recognise your own uniqueness and value your abilities building your self confidence on a daily basis?
The Self Confidence to Be You
- It starts with being self aware, acknowledging your feelings as they tend to be there for a reason, even if its not the obvious one.
- Actively seek (and give) feedback. The value of this cannot be underestimated. When we self reflect we only see half the picture. Those who suffer from imposter syndrome have a tendency to ignore or undervalue feedback from others. Remember that the perspectives of others give us a valuable additional dimension to understand who we are and what we are capable of.
- Watch/listen for the self talk. It is a powerful influencer and gives you the opportunity to lift yourself into a virtuous spiral of confidence or to walk you down into a vicious pit of despair.
- Getting comfortable with who you really are. Explore the concept of authenticity, being who you genuinely are and being happy with that. As Oscar Wilde said, be yourself because everyone else is taken
- Be compassionate, to yourself. Often people with imposter syndrome are incredibly hard on themselves. It is important to know that we are all human and we are all works in progress.
When you feel like an imposter, shine a light on your thoughts and how you are feeling and then direct that light to see who you truly are. You are amazing, you are Limitless!
Alison Burgess is a Confidence Builder, Trainer and Coach.
For more information about building your confidence go to the Limitless for Life website to book a free consultation or contact Alison on 07931 556 167.