Updated August 1, 2022 . AmFam Team
Imagine this: You landed your dream job and start Monday! You feel excited and proud — until you hear a little voice in your head saying, “How did you even get this job? Are you sure you’re qualified? Did they make a mistake in offering you the job?” In an instant, excitement turns into uncertainty and stress.
Whether it’s starting a new job, accepting a promotion or making a major life change, everyone experiences that negative voice in their head from time to time — it’s called imposter syndrome.
In fact, seven out of 10 people experience this type of self-doubt after reaching a big goal or achieving success. While that negative voice can be frustrating — and sometimes overwhelming — you can overcome imposter syndrome by training your brain to think differently.
Imposter syndrome can come with a variety of feelings — everyone experiences it differently. Perhaps you feel like a fraud when it comes to your accomplishments, doubt your capabilities, worry you don’t belong, attribute your success to luck alone or believe your achievement is undeserved.
Imposter syndrome isn’t always easy to identify because it can present itself in different ways. Here are a few common signs of imposter syndrome.
After you’ve reached your goal, you can’t help feeling as if you’ve tricked everyone and that at any moment someone will find out.
Doubting your impact on the world can lower your confidence and keep you from pursuing your big dreams. When imposter syndrome creeps up, you may have a tough time believing in yourself and all the positive qualities you possess.
You may constantly question whether you’re qualified or deserving. You may brush off your accomplishments and downplay all the hard work and dedication you put into achieving them.
Do you describe yourself as independent or as a perfectionist? Do you try to be a superhero and do it all? Maybe you feel as if you should be an expert on everything? People with these personality traits may be more likely to experience imposter syndrome.
Do any of these symptoms of imposter syndrome sound familiar to you? Keep reading to learn how to combat imposter syndrome.
The good news is, there are several ways to deal with imposter syndrome. Keep in mind, these tips are not quick fixes. Rather, they’re strategies you can use whenever self-doubt creeps in. Knowing how to handle imposter syndrome can keep you moving toward your next big goal.
Carve out time in your day to write down your capabilities and achievements and say them out loud to yourself — maybe it’s before starting your day or right before a big moment like a presentation. Speaking your self-worth into existence can help boost your confidence and overcome imposter syndrome!
What you say to yourself plays an important role in how you see yourself. As soon as you hear that negative voice in your head, change the script. Instead of “I don’t deserve my amazing friends,” think “I am thankful for my amazing friends. They are a reflection of me and my values.”
It’s also important to pay attention to how you talk about yourself around others. Next time someone compliments you on a job well done, thank them for their kind words instead of saying, “Oh, it was nothing!” It sounds like a small change but developing these habits can make a big difference.
One way to cultivate a positive mindset is to acknowledge impostor syndrome when it occurs. Consider writing down what you’re feeling and why. Seeing your thoughts in writing can help you consider them from a different perspective, break the negative cycle and start creating a more positive thought process.
Create a mental image of what success would look like in certain situations beforehand. Imagine yourself acing the interview, nailing the presentation or conducting yourself well in a difficult conversation. Visualizing your success can make it harder for imposter syndrome to get in the way when you’re working towards a goal.
If you describe yourself as a perfectionist, you likely care quite a bit about the quality of your work. That’s a desirable trait! Yet, constantly striving for excellence can also open the door for imposter syndrome to sneak in. Keep that negative voice at bay by focusing on high-quality outcomes when it matters most. For everything else, remember the saying, “Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” In other words, when it comes to routine tasks, let “good” be “good enough.”
As mentioned earlier, you’re not the only person dealing with imposter syndrome. Sharing your feelings of self-doubt with a trusted friend or coworker can help you gain the support you need to combat those feelings. It’s also a great opportunity to support someone else when they battle imposter syndrome!
Everyone makes mistakes, and everyone experiences failure. While it’s important to own up to your mistakes, it’s even more important to not let them consume you! When you feel you’ve failed, find the lesson and create an action plan to help prevent it from happening again. Then, forgive yourself and move on.
No one knows everything — sometimes, you just have to go for it and figure things out on the fly. It’s not a sign you’re not qualified. In fact, learning by trial and error is one of the best ways to build skills and confidence. Challenge yourself to walk into the next situation with confidence, and trust your gut. You’ve got this!
Don’t forget, nearly 70% of people experience signs of imposter syndrome. Next time you look around in a group of people, remember most of them could be experiencing that same feeling.
By being mindful of imposter syndrome and practicing the strategies above, you can manage self-doubt and continue pursuing your dreams with confidence.
And remember, we’re here to support you, too! That’s why we offer a collection of self-improvement tools and resources that can help guide you along any dream pursuit. Check it out!
This article is for informational purposes only and includes information widely available through different sources.