Written By Own Your Destiny Team
Do you ever feel like you don’t deserve what you’ve achieved? Are you afraid others will discover that you are unqualified or that someone made a mistake putting you in your work position? You’re not alone. Millions of people share this feeling either some of the time or all the time. It’s called imposter syndrome. Technically, it’s not a medical diagnosis, but mental health professionals widely recognize it as a real phenomenon marked by feelings of self-doubt in the face of achievement.
When you start to feel as though you’re underqualified or an imposter, consider these tips.
Recognize Your Feelings
When the imposter feeling comes over you, acknowledge that it’s happening. Make a note of:
- Your location, what you’re feeling, and what is happening right now
- What was happening right before the feeling started
- What you’re about to do (such as walk into a meeting)
Don’t analyze what you were doing and decide whether it’s relevant to what you’re feeling. If you used the bathroom and washed your hands, write that down. There’s no way to analyze the data for patterns unless you’ve made a record of everything. These notes don’t have to be novels. Two or three minutes of jotting down the highlights is all that’s needed.
Write a New Story
When negative thoughts form a story in your head, make up a new story. When you find yourself thinking that you’re not good enough, consciously take over the thought and change it into something positive like, “I’ve learned a lot to come this far, and I’m still learning.”
Let Go of Perfectionism
Perfect is a lot to live up to. Allow yourself to make mistakes. People learn more from failures than from successes, so give yourself permission to course correct if necessary. When something doesn’t work out the way you wanted it to, don’t beat yourself up for it. Look at it as an opportunity to learn from the experience and apply the new knowledge going forward. WD-40 got its name because it was the 40th attempt to make it!
Give Yourself Credit
Make a list of your accomplishments. When you feel low, check it out. Every once in a while, look at it and consider what you can add to it. Also, take time to reflect each day on your accomplishments, rather than the things you want to do better. Accomplishments don’t have to be the discovery of a new law of physics. It can be that you were thoughtful and sent someone a text message or it could be remembering to get the laundry from the washer to the dryer.
Talk About It
Knowing that we aren’t alone makes a difference. Talk to friends and family members. You may be surprised at how many other people have felt that way at some point. Create a private Facebook group with friends so you can support each other. Identify a friend struggling with it, too, and text each other when you need a boost. Talk to a therapist or coach. There may already be a support group in place that you can join. If not, maybe they would like to facilitate one.
Overcoming impostor syndrome or any feelings of inadequacy is about creating a new habit. At first, it may seem like a lot of trouble to write things down and re-frame the story you tell yourself, but after a while, it will become second nature. Reframing the story will become automatic, and someday, you might wake up and realize that it’s become unnecessary.