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Stop feeling like an imposter with these 10 strategies

Posted by Deepshikha Shukla

January 11, 2022    |     3-minute read (573 words)

Individuals who experience imposter syndrome, also known as imposter phenomenon, feel like they’ve succeeded only due to luck rather than through their skills and talent. Their faulty belief system makes them doubt their own abilities despite external evidence indicating otherwise. 

A review article published by the International Journal of Behavioral Science suggests that about 70% of us will experience such feelings at some point, while a widely cited Twitter poll found that 87% of people had experienced impostor syndrome at least once. It is thought to be especially prevalent among high-achieving individuals.

Here are 10 pointers for overcoming imposter syndrome:

1. Examine your thoughts

Take a moment to question whether you are thinking rationally. Then, note your negative thoughts and review each one. When you start acknowledging these thoughts, you can begin to unravel the faulty beliefs that are holding you back.

2. Envision success

Replace your negative mindset with a new narrative in which you view yourself as a winner. Visualizing yourself successfully completing a task or nailing a presentation helps you avoid performance-related stress and worst-case scenario thinking. 

3. Learn more

After finishing a project or achieving a goal, assess what you did well and not so well. Review what you learned from the experience, and acknowledge the skills, intellect and insights that helped you complete it. If you’re new to a task, develop the required abilities and skills first. If you fail, consider it a learning opportunity and pledge to prepare accordingly for next time.

4. List your accomplishments

List what things you are good at, times you’ve performed well and obstacles you’ve overcome. Take note of small and large wins, experiences and leadership skills you picked up along the way. Then, every time you’re plagued with self-doubt, review your list of successes. The more you recall and celebrate wins, the more confident you’ll become. 

5. Share your feelings

Confiding what you are experiencing — feelings of fears, distress and self-doubt — to a mentor or a licensed professional can help you feel less overwhelmed.

6. Build connections

Avoid doing everything yourself and accept help from peers and co-workers. Hire or outsource experts to perform tasks at which you don’t excel, or identify approaches to overcome persistent roadblocks.

7. Stop comparing yourself to others

Everyone has unique abilities, and no one can do it all. It’s OK to take a little more time to learn or achieve something new, even if someone else seems to do it faster. Success doesn’t require perfection, so failing to attain it doesn’t make you a fraud. Keep these things in mind, and don’t compare yourself to others.

8. Manage your expectations

Don't focus on doing things perfectly, but rather on doing them reasonably well. Make sure your expectations and aspirations don’t outpace your learning. You can’t do everything well all the time, and it’s human to make mistakes or fail sometimes.

9. Know when to say no

Saying no leaves you with space to say yes to opportunities that align with your goals. Learn to turn down offers outside your area of expertise and save your time for tasks that you do well.

10. Consider helping others

One way to better recognize your expertise is by helping others learn skills that you’ve mastered. Sharing your knowledge with others can help you more accurately recognize your abilities and mitigate feelings of self-doubt.

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