Are you good enough? How to manage imposter syndrome

Many professionals experience feelings of self-doubt and inadequacy known as imposter syndrome or imposter phenomenon. The two terms are used interchangeably but the difference between the two is that a syndrome is something you either have or you don’t, whereas a phenomenon shows up on occasions. The whole imposter thing refers to an internal experience of believing that successes have been the result of luck rather than ability, and a fear of being exposed as a “fraud”. Imposter feelings are surprisingly common, even among people that seem to have it all together.

Here’s a look at how it can show up and how you can manage it:

  • Recognise that feeling like an imposter is very common. Even highly accomplished people often feel this way. Know you’re not alone.
  • Reflect on your accomplishments rather than dwelling on what you haven’t done or areas you feel less competent in. Make a list of your achievements, skills, positive feedback etc. We are pre-disposed to be negative. It links back to the survival instincts in the brain. I don’t know about you but if someone gives me some good and bad feedback I hear and remember the bad so much more! I recently met with a former manager and mentor and finally realised, after 14 years, that he had meant the positive feedback he had given me all those years ago! Good to finally realise it, but a shame not to have taken the positive feedback that I so badly needed at the time.
  • Talk to mentors, friends or colleagues about your feelings. Getting an outside perspective can help reframe your internal narrative. Others see strengths in us that we don’t recognise ourselves. It is really common, in the career coaching I do, for people to think that their strengths are universal and that everyone has them, but this is not true. Things that come naturally to us feel easier but they aren’t for everyone. Are you a good listener? You are in the minority if you are.
  • Attribute your successes to your effort and abilities, not random chance. Imposters often discount their role.
  • Focus on learning and growth, not perfection. Perfectionism fuels imposter fears. Make progress, not perfection, your goal. I hear progress over perfection a lot, and it is really true. I don’t think I would ever have written an article or posted on LinkedIn if I had waited for a piece to be completely perfect.
  • Be kind to yourself in your self-talk. Note when that inner voice is critical and replace it with encouragement. If you wouldn’t say it to a friend, don’t say it to yourself.
  • Set manageable goals and challenge yourself enough to continue developing. Do enough to push yourself a little outside your comfort zone but not so much that you feel completely out of your depth. Small wins can build confidence.
  • Pay less attention to comparisons with others. Everyone’s background and journey is different. Celebrate their successes. I love the idea of abundance, that there is enough success for everyone.
  • Fake it til you make it! Act confidently even if you don’t always feel it inside. It can influence how others see you.

The key is addressing the irrational, self-critical thoughts that undermine your sense of belonging and competence. Over time, effort and wins can make feeling like an imposter fade.

If you find imposter type thoughts having a negative impact on you, coaching can really help. Book a no obligation chat,

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