Imposter syndrome is the feeling that you don't belong here. It is the feeling of being amongst an incredibly smart group of people and feeling you don't deserve a seat at the table, that it was a mistake you ended up here, that your success is a fluke.
If you have been feeling like this, you are not alone. 70% of the population feels the imposter phenomenon - feeling of anxiety, fear of failure and dissatisfaction with life.
Dealing with imposter syndrome can become manageable with a little patience, self-understanding and self-love. Here are some tips that have helped me manage my imposter syndrome -
You are not alone: Know that usually overachieving people experience imposter syndrome.
Ask for help: I have noticed that personally imposter syndrome gets triggered when I am working on something unfamiliar. I have an expectation from myself to figure things out instantaneously, and to "just know" things. Getting guidance from someone made me feel that I was weak and not smart enough. However, I have to come to realize that this behavior is completely unfair to me. We all need help when starting out, and often our peers embrace the idea of us reaching out for help. Next time when you are in an uncharted territory, remind yourself to let go of unrealistic expectations from yourself and let others help you on this journey.
Review your achievements: Make a list of accomplishments you have had so far in your life, and list things you are really proud of. Now make a list of things that challenged you in the last year, and you were able to overcome. These lists are a proof you are capable of amazing things.
Reach out: Often, sharing about how you feel with others makes it easier to overcome feeling like an imposter. Some people who can help -
- a friend in your support group who makes you feel good about yourself.
- a colleague / manager you have a good relationship with.
- your mentor
- a professional psychiatrist.
Disconnect: Stepping away from the situation helps in disconnecting and feeling better. Here are some ways to disconnect -
- Take a breather. Relax. Go for a walk.
- Workout. Do some heavy cardio. Do some light yoga.
- Do some self-care - take a bath, light a candle, do a spa session.
Do something creative: Activities that involve creating something - such as music, painting, knitting, reading, writing a blog, novel helps to channel our creative energy. Creativity helps unclog your brain and gives you the confidence in your ability to produce your craft.
Step in their shoes:
- If you were hiring someone with these achievements, how proud would you feel to have them on your team?
- If your friend was in a similar situation and told you about their imposter syndrome, what would you tell them? How would you comfort them? Now tell that to yourself. Be your own best friend.
- If your co-worker who you admire was having imposter syndrome, what would you tell them? Now tell that to yourself. Be your own secret admirer.
- What would your future 5 year self tell you at this moment?
- Did you recently achieve something? Write it in your list of accomplishments.
- Did you overcome a major hurdle or problem? Write it in your list of accomplishments.
- Did you receive kind words of appreciation from someone? Write it.
- Did you recently find out that someone you admire is having imposter syndrome? Were you surprised hearing that? Did you offer comfort? Write down what you said and how you felt. This will be helpful when you experience imposter syndrome yourself.
- Make a list of things that makes you feel better - taking a walk, lighting candles, watching your favorite TV show (FRIENDS), talking to a friend. This will be helpful to nurture you in the time of need.
- Write down some affirmations that work for you. Some examples are -
- I am here, therefore I belong.
- A hard problem means I am levelling up.
- I am strong and capable.
- I am worthy of respect and glory.
- I am proficient in my craft.
Are you feeling any of these emotions at the moment? Reach out. Send me a message on Twitter. I am here for you.