5 Ways to Cope with Imposter Syndrome
“You are a fake. You don’t know anything. You are going to fail.”
If this sounds familiar then you are not alone. We all have a little voice in our mind that tells us that we are just pretending at life and work. It tries to convince us that we don’t know enough or aren’t good enough. Sometimes it tells us that we aren’t worthy of love or deserving of praise.
While it has many names, this defeating self-talk is mostly commonly referred to as the imposter syndrome. This voice often makes us feel insecure about our abilities. Additionally, there is a fear that other people will find out that we are inadequate frauds. We worry about being judged for our shortcomings or that we will suffer consequences such as being fired.
This voice can be dangerous if we listen to and believe what it says about us. If you believe that you are not good enough and will never be good enough, you avoid new opportunities. Instead, you stay with what is familiar and safe even if that means a job that pays too little and is not fulfilling. It can also result in maintaining a dysfunctional relationship or procrastinating starting a new business venture.
Staying with what is familiar rather than asking for a promotion or starting a company can have long-term negative financial implications. It can also affect your emotional wellbeing. People who stay in their safe zone do not give themselves a chance to grow as a person. They are likely to feel frustrated and hopeless about their future.
It is unlikely that this voice will ever fully go away. Fear of the unknown serves an important purpose for survival. It can stop us from taking unnecessary risks or at least make us more careful when we do try something new. Instead of trying to get rid of the voice entirely or feeling ashamed of it, try these techniques:
1. Accept the self-defeating voice:
The more you try to not think of something, the stronger that thought becomes. Similar to a Chinese finger trap, struggling results in the trap getting tighter while relaxing into the trap causes it to loosen enough to pull your fingers out. Rather then trying to push the thought away, accept that the thought is there and your imposter syndrome has kicked in.
2. Review the evidence:
Accepting is not the same as giving up. Once you have accepted that the thought is present, acknowledge that the thought is not true. Bring to mind hard evidence to refute the thought. Remind yourself of past successes you have had or similar obstacles you have overcome.
3. Positive self-statements:
Create positive statements to say to yourself in response to the negative self-defeating voice. Make sure to choose statements that you feel are accurate and that speak to you. Some examples include
“I can do this.”
“I am enough.”
“I deserve this.”
“I worked hard for this.”
“I belong here”
“Done is better than perfect.”
“Everyone makes mistakes.”
“Failure is a learning experience.”