How To Manage Your Imposter Syndrome
It’s holding you back but you can beat it
If you’ve been keeping up with the goings on at London Fashion week, you may have seen an article about debut fashion designer Alexa Chung who has revealed she suffers from “impostor syndrome”. Yes, she’s a beautiful, clever, hard working woman in her 30’s but the former TV presenter admits that she has always felt she shouldn’t quite be in the amazing positions she finds herself in professionally.
Rather like “OCD” impostor syndrome is a phrase we often bandy about when we feel a bit insecure, but which does in fact denote a real and potentially serious psychological condition. Who knows whether Alexa was just trying to convey that she sometimes feels a bit rubbish about herself or whether she does suffer from the potentially debilitating syndrome, but there’s no doubt it’s a bitter reality for many people. Some 70% of women and men experience impostor syndrome at some point in their lives. And the bad news is it can actually send your career in to a decline, either by causing you to subconsciously sabotage yourself at work, or by overachieving to the point of burnout.
How do you know if you have it?
Do you secretly feel like a fraud? Do you fear that your boss and colleagues might discover the “real” you and send you packing? Do you think you’re only where you are today because of luck? Do you obsess about career progression, at the cost of personal relationships? If so, you probably already know you have impostor syndrome.
What can be done to overcome it?
The good news is, this doesn’t have to be a permanent feature of your internal landscape. Experts have come up with all sorts of tips to undo the negative thinking that goes with impostor syndrome, and here are some of the best ones to try:
Recognise you have it, and know that having it means you’re not seeing things as they really are. This is the first step on the road to separating your paranoid imaginary version of yourself, and the probably quite awesome self that others see.
Celebrate your achievements. Actually list the great stuff you’ve done at work recently. Expressing specific positive thoughts about yourself will feed your confidence.
Acknowledge that luck, chance and even nepotism do play a part in most people’s success, but it’s what you do with your luck once you get it that counts.
Accept that no one feels confident and fabulous 100% of the time. Everyone has days when they look in the mirror after a bad night’s sleep and can’t summon their game face. Everyone has months and years where they take knock after knock after knock and don’t know if they can bounce back. That’s life, and that’s ok. Confidence ebbs and flows.
Don’t forget, there will be a reason you’re prone to feeling like an impostor and it’s not your fault. Maybe you were raised or educated in a super competitive environment? Perhaps you work in an industry that tends to be judgmental and bitchy? If things get really toxic, you might want to consider really taking charge of your life by exploring a new career avenue or working arrangement where there’s less of a cut-throat culture.
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