Do you feel like a fraud in danger of being exposed when someone praises your work? Do you think your achievements are just a matter of luck? If so, you may be experiencing Imposter syndrome. That’s the term psychologists invented in the 1970s when they were studying successful women. Now, they know that men are just as likely to be affected. In fact, an estimated 70% of adults experience the symptoms at least occasionally. You may be especially vulnerable when you’re trying something new or celebrating an important occasion like a job promotion.
Impostor syndrome may be caused by your personality or the way you grew up. Whatever the reasons, you can stop undermining yourself. Learn to experience doubts without letting them interfere with the happiness and success you deserve.
Modify Your Thinking:
- Remember your achievements. Review your track record. Putting your victories in context will show you that they’re not just a lucky of the draw.
- Give yourself credit. Change your self-talk. When you catch yourself becoming critical, congratulate yourself, instead. Reframing your thoughts will help you to view yourself in a more positive light.
- Accept uncertainty. Impostor syndrome is often associated with perfectionism. Embrace yourself unconditionally, including your strengths and weaknesses. Set realistic goals and expectations.
- Validate yourself. Live up to your own standards rather than relying on approval from others. Be mindful of your thoughts and feelings so you can manage them effectively.
- Appreciate effort. Do you regard struggling as a sign of weakness? Success often requires careful planning, hard work, and learning from your mistakes and failures.
Changing Your Behavior:
- Acknowledge It. Impostor syndrome can be a difficult cycle to break because your first impulse is to cover it up. On the other hand, revealing your insecurities will help you to put them in perspective.
- Build support. Ask family and friends for help. Having the courage to be vulnerable will boost your confidence and strengthen your relationships.
- Fight stereotypes. Feeling like an outsider can contribute to impostor syndrome. For example, maybe you’re much older, younger, or from a different cultural background than your coworkers. Look for ways to turn that diversity into an advantage instead of feeling awkward about being different.
- Be spontaneous. You may be putting unnecessary pressure on yourself if you frequently over-prepare. Stay in the moment and try new things!
- Accept compliments. Can you receive praise graciously or do you secretly want to run and hide? Practice saying thank you sincerely. You’ll create a more pleasant experience for yourself and your admirers.
- Find a mentor. Changing long-standing habits can be tough work. Working with a mentor will give you the benefit of ongoing feedback from someone you trust. You may also feel more accountable knowing that someone else is monitoring your progress.
- Teach others. Recognizing your areas of expertise can be tricky when knowledge and skills build up slowly over time. Instructing others is an excellent way to learn more about yourself while providing a valuable service to others.
- Stay relaxed. Challenging situations are likely to trigger your defense mechanism. You’ll find it easier to be authentic if you manage daily stress. Block out time for prayer/meditation and physical exercise. Slow down and take a deep breath if you find yourself starting to question your worth.
- Take risks. Impostor syndrome can hold you back from trying new things. Make a list of projects that excite you and take pleasure in new experiences.
Overcoming imposter syndrome will help you to feel more comfortable with yourself and more satisfied with your achievements.
Dr. Patty Jiménez is the Founder of Recetas. She obtained 2 Masters in Theology and Ministry and a Doctorate in Ministry specializing in Latinx theology and ministry. She has over 27 years experience in Catholic Ministry and is a spiritual director and training as a wellness coach.