Embrace Your True Potential: Get Past Impostor Syndrome

Embrace Your True Potential: Get Past Impostor Syndrome

Sometimes doubts creep in. And unfortunately, our careers are no exception to that. These doubts get the best of us and can leave us feeling like we don’t deserve our successes, of  being exposed as a fraud, or constantly doubting our abilities despite evidence to the contrary. Many of us have experienced these feelings at some point in our lives, and they are often due to a phenomenon known as Impostor Syndrome. In this article, we’ll explore what impostor syndrome is, how to recognize it within yourself, and most importantly, how to overcome it. So, let’s embark on a journey to self-discovery and self-confidence together!

Understanding Impostor Syndrome

Impostor Syndrome, often referred to as the “impostor phenomenon,” is a psychological pattern in which individuals doubt their accomplishments and have a persistent fear of being exposed as a fraud, despite evidence of their competence and achievements. It was first coined by psychologists Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes in 1978. Impostor Syndrome can affect anyone, regardless of their level of expertise, and it often strikes high-achievers.

The key characteristics of Impostor Syndrome include:

Self-doubt: Feeling inadequate, even in situations where you excel.

Discounting success: Believing your achievements are due to luck, timing, or other external factors, rather than your own abilities.

Fear of exposure: Worrying that others will discover you’re not as capable as they think you are.

Overworking: Compensating for self-perceived inadequacies by overworking and striving for perfection.

Underestimating abilities: Undervaluing your skills and contributions, even when others recognize and appreciate them.

Testing Yourself for Impostor Syndrome

Now that you have a better understanding of what Impostor Syndrome is, let’s explore how you can test yourself to determine if you’re experiencing it. Remember, it’s okay to admit if you are – recognizing it is the first step towards overcoming it.

Self-Reflection: Take some time to reflect on your thoughts and feelings about your achievements. Are you often dismissive of your successes, attributing them to external factors? Do you frequently feel like a fraud even when you have evidence of your competence?

Journaling: Start a journal where you record your thoughts and feelings about your work and accomplishments. This can help you identify patterns of self-doubt and fear that may indicate Impostor Syndrome. I recently completed a 30 Day Challenge with my email audience (you all should sign up!) where I started to practice journaling. I fell in love with it and plan to continue because of all the benefits. 

Seek Feedback: Talk to friends, family, or colleagues you trust and ask for their honest assessment of your abilities and contributions. Sometimes, an outsider’s perspective can provide valuable insights. We often have a completely different view than what others see. 

Comparison Trap: Pay attention to how often you compare yourself to others. Do you constantly measure your worth against others’ achievements? If so, this may be a sign of Impostor Syndrome.

Perfectionism: Consider whether you have a tendency to strive for perfection in everything you do. Perfectionism is the enemy of progress and can be a symptom of Impostor Syndrome, as individuals may feel the need to prove their worth through flawless performance. Remember, done is better than perfect. 

Overcoming Impostor Syndrome

Now that you’ve identified that you may be experiencing Impostor Syndrome, it’s time to take steps to overcome it and embrace your true potential. It is basically a part of the process of growing and learning, so often it takes our acknowledgement that is it there. Remember, you’re not alone in this, and many successful individuals have battled and conquered Impostor Syndrome. Here are some strategies to help you get past it:

Acknowledge Your Feelings: The first step is to recognize and acknowledge that you’re experiencing Impostor Syndrome. Understand that it’s a common experience and doesn’t reflect your actual capabilities.

Separate Feelings from Facts: Learn to differentiate between your feelings of inadequacy and the actual evidence of your competence. Write down your achievements and remind yourself of your successes when self-doubt creeps in. You were hired by your client or boss because you are more than capable of completing the job, and you reached important milestones in your life by your own efforts and talents. 

Talk About It: Share your feelings with a trusted friend, family member, therapist, or your 85 year old self (she is much wiser than I am). Sometimes, just expressing your fears and doubts can provide relief and a fresh perspective.

Set Realistic Goals: Avoid setting impossibly high standards for yourself. Set achievable, measurable goals, and celebrate your successes along the way.

Embrace Failure: Understand that failure is a part of growth and learning. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, as they provide valuable lessons and opportunities for improvement.

Seek Mentorship: Connect with mentors or role models who are where you want to be. They can provide guidance, encouragement, and perspective from going through the challenges you face. 

Challenge Negative Thoughts: When self-doubt creeps in, challenge those negative thoughts with positive affirmations. Remind yourself of your abilities and past achievements.

Keep a Success Journal: Create a journal where you document your accomplishments and positive feedback from others. Review it when you need a confidence boost.

Practice Self-Compassion: Treat yourself with the same kindness and understanding that you would offer to a friend facing similar challenges. Be gentle with yourself and avoid self-criticism.

Professional Help: In severe cases, consider seeking support from a therapist or counselor who specializes in impostor syndrome or self-esteem issues. They can provide tailored strategies and coping mechanisms.

Impostor Syndrome is a common experience that can hinder your personal and professional growth. However, with self-awareness, support, and the right strategies, you can overcome it and step into your true potential. Remember, you are not alone in this journey, and countless successful individuals have faced and conquered Impostor Syndrome. Embrace your talents and achievements, and let your self-doubts be a stepping stone to greater self-confidence and success. Let’s go!

You've got this.

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