It is estimated that 70% of employees suffer from Imposter Syndrome. Although it is a common phenomenon it isn’t something that many people have heard of. In this article we take a look at imposter syndrome and share some tips on how to manage it.
What is Imposter Syndrome
Quite simply it is the feeling of persistent self doubt regardless of any successes, accomplishments, educational status or ability. Imposter syndrome, also known as perceived fraudulence, is unfounded but can be debilitating and affects a person’s mental health. Even when complimented, praised, rewarded they make excuses and down play rather than accept their accomplishments. It was just luck, they only feel sorry for me. The negative perception that they hold of themself is completely disconnected to other people’s perception of them.
The negative connotations of imposter syndrome are that the person isn’t good enough and that everyone else is more deserving, better at their roles, more intelligent etc. This negative thought pattern can take its toll on a person if it isn’t dealt with. Not believing in one’s abilities leads a person pressuring themself to work harder to ensure that others don’t realise their shortcomings, to make up for their perceived deficit and to earn the role that they don’t believe that they deserve. Imposter syndrome can lead to burnout, anxiety and depression as a person strives for what they perceive to be perfection.
There are many ways that imposter syndrome can rear its head. The good news is it is easy to recognise and do something about.
Quick tips to manage imposter syndrome
-Realise perfection doesn’t exist
-Celebrate your small wins
-Think of one thing every day that you have achieved
-Focus on the sense of achievement when you master something new
-Rather than asking for help – delegate
-When people give you a compliment accept it
-Be proud of your achievements
-Just because they seem like nothing phases them doesn’t mean it is true – stop comparing yourself to others
Some elements of imposter syndrome
Placing unrealistic goals on yourself that are impossible to achieve. Rather than celebrating wins you criticise and berate yourself for failing to achieve the unachievable.
Realise that perfectionism does not exist. That person you think is perfect – they’re not. No one is and nothing is. Celebrate your small wins – every day think of at least one thing you have achieved. Shift your focus from what you haven’t managed to do.
If you have found things easy to pick up in the past it is likely that when something is difficult you automatically jump to the incorrect conclusion that you are failing. The notion that you have come to believe that competent people don’t struggle fuels the thought that you are inadequate.
Firstly, the fact that you have the ability to pick many things up quickly just proves your competence. Well done. Secondly, no one can do everything. Every person, no matter how multi-talented, will have things that require more work than others. Just because you don’t see it doesn’t mean that people haven’t had to work hard at something.
Flip the negative thoughts on their head. Instead of thinking you are no good because you can’t get something right away, think about the sense of achievement that you will feel when you do get it.
A product of modern life is that many people believe that they should be able to handle everything that life throws at them on their own. It is seen as a weakness to ask for help or even admit that help may be needed. The issue with this is that soloists regularly find themself burnt out, feeling overwhelmed and alone. If someone offers unsolicited help this reinforces the belief that you are failing and propels the fear that someone has noticed.
Humans are social creatures. We crave company and to feel like part of a community. Helping people is a huge boost to a person’s mental health. It is well know that helping others releases endorphins and makes people feel good about themself. If someone is offering to help don’t jump to the conclusion that they have noticed your inadequacies, perhaps they genuinely like helping people.
Everyone needs help sometimes. Asking for help is not a weakness and can be liberating. Don’t think of it as asking for help, think of it as delegating. By framing it in a positive way you will feel in control and receive the assistance you require on your terms.
As with most thought processes imposter syndrome can be managed by recognising and reframing thoughts in a positive way.
If the above sounds familiar you are not alone. Try these tips and know that you are most definitely good enough.
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