Do you suffer from Impostor Syndrome?
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‘Impostor Syndrome’, a term coined in 1978 to describe the feeling of “inability to believe that one’s success is deserved” was found to commonly affect a majority of women in senior roles and those starting something new like a graduate, but is now recognised to be prevalent in workers of all levels.
It’s a voice of self-doubt and chronic fear and anxiety of being found out to be a total fraud. Those suffering from impostor syndrome often fall into a toxic cycle of behaviour with linked symptoms such as trying to fly under the radar, workaholism, self-sabotage, procrastinating, or being constantly in-process (never finishing a project). Many of these behaviours risk paying the price of missing out on promotions, being stuck in the comfort of a job they have long outgrown, stress and even burnouts.
There are a number of ways in which we, ourselves, can overcome impostor syndrome:
Observing the ways your thoughts can turn negative and then questioning them critically and challenging your feelings, normalising the fear and self-doubt and being able to talk yourself down quicker.
Impostor syndrome can be found in those that set unrealistic and unsustainable expectations for themselves that results in a failed outcome to their standard. It’s easy to focus on failure and weakness and neglect your strengths and accomplishments that make you qualified for your job. Writing down lists of positive feedback you’ve received can be a healthy reminder.
Confiding in someone you trust: a colleague; friend; a family member can often lead to learning you aren’t the only one feeling like an impostor, normalising the fear and anxiety, and will often reassure you that your beliefs are inaccurate.
Negative comments around your work can often validate those feelings of unworthiness. But fear of a negative review can stifle your chances of bettering yourself in your career. Constructive criticism should be seen as a gift and a learning curve.
Self-doubt is universal in a workforce, with many not even suffering from impostor syndrome. It’s how you deal with those inner thoughts that can truly give you a leg up in the world. Remembering that almost everyone is in the same boat, it’s not possible for someone to know everything they need to know. Let yourself off the hook once in a while.