Are you plagued with self-doubt? Do you constantly question your abilities and talents? Do you feel inadequate and under skilled – like you’re just not good enough? Well, then you are probably suffering from “imposter syndrome,” a term that was coined in the 1970s to explain that sense of feeling like a fraud. It’s the idea that somehow you are faking your way through your life and that you will be exposed for your fraudulence. It’s an unfortunate and all too common feeling for many women, especially those who are working their way up the corporate ladder or starting their own businesses. Here are a few tips for overcoming imposter syndrome:
Give it no power: Understand and accept that feeling like a fraud is all part of your humanity and that you don’t have to give it any real weight in your life. In fact, you can play a little reverse psychology with this one. If you are suffering from imposter syndrome, then it more than likely means you have set some high standards for yourself. So, realize the strength in this and use it to propel you forward.
Stop procrastinating: Sometimes feeling like a fraud stems from your lack of action. Even if no one else knows you’re making excuses, you know, and this can make you feel like a fraud. Instead of finding reasons to avoid acting on your goals, take small and consistent action steps to finish that project or accomplish that new task.
Let go of perfectionism: Recognize that you are someone who sets high expectations and focus your attention on your value, instead of ruminating on perfection. Let go of your self-importance and realize that even if you make a mistake, you will be okay. Remember that mistakes can provide opportunities to learn and grow and concentrate on doing your best job.
Stay clear of comparisons: Every single individual on the planet has their unique gifts and talents to offer. Sitting around comparing yourself to others is a complete waste of time. Instead, give some real time and reflection to your strengths and what you offer. If you have some trouble doing this, ask your closest friends, mentors, and colleagues what they see as your strengths.
Refer to your prior achievements: When you find yourself focusing on what you think you can’t do, recall experiences in which you were successful, even though you initially thought you might fail. You probably have an entire arsenal of memories like this, so use them to mobilize you into the next experience that triggers your feelings of self-doubt and inadequacy.
Create new habits: One of the surest ways to feel like a fraud is to maintain bad habits you really want to change. For instance, you hit the snooze button ten times every morning when what you really want to do is get up before work and exercise or meditate. The longer you take to rid yourself of a habit you want to change, the more you contribute to your sense of failure. When you replace your bad habit with a healthier habit, you reinforce your feelings of accomplishment, thus diminishing the imposter syndrome.
Don’t be afraid to seek guidance: One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to believe that you have to know everything on your own. This is not humanly possible. So, when you need to learn something new or want to grow in a particular area, find support with a mentor, coach, or colleague.
– Cynthia Santiago, empowerment coach and founder of Latina Wellness