Imposter Syndrome : Part 2
Last week we explored what imposter syndrome is, and how it can be crippling to those who experience it. From students to billion dollar startup CEOs, imposter syndrome takes no prisoners.
This week let’s look at why we experience it, and how to work through it.
So, we’ll start with the question...
If we didn’t think there was anyone in the world that was better than us, would we feel inadequate?
The answer is - probably not.
Because at the core of imposter syndrome is how we compare ourselves with others.
When we create an image of ourselves, it’s based on a lifetime of our feelings, experiences and the feedback we’ve received from others.
When we assess others, we create stories based on far less information - which is often limited to what we’ve observed and what they’ve told us.
And in the Tinder world of ‘fake it til you make it’, this approach generally omits most honest information including their doubts and insecurities.
Leaving us feeling more flawed and less capable than those around us.
So really, imposter syndrome is just a matter of misperception.
Which is great news for all of us! Because changing perceptions often only requires two things 1) being open to other perspectives 2) irrefutable evidence.
First thing’s first - are you open to seeing yourself and others more objectively?
If so, here are six steps to help you beat imposter syndrome and rise to your potential;
Step 1 - Start talking about it
First off, to work through imposter syndrome you need to accept that you’re experiencing it and realise it’s normal.
A great way to start the acceptance process is to:
- Find people that you respect, trust and will be honest.
- Share your imposter syndrome experiences with them.
- Ask them if they’ve ever experienced anything similar before.
The more you share these stories with others, the easier it will get.
Step 2 - Recognise and record your experiences
Paying close attention to when you’re experiencing imposter syndrome and how you’re reacting to it will help you to be more aware of it, and reduce it’s control over you.
In a notebook, keep track of 1) when it happened, 2) what circumstances triggered it and 3) how you reacted. This information can help you to see trends around what causes it and how it affects you.
Step 3 - Collect and review positive feedback
Often people experiencing imposter syndrome struggle to receive positive feedback, or see evidence that shows they’re right for the job and not a fraud.
A great way to get around this is to;
- When you receive positive feedback, say thank you rather than dismissing it.
- Write down the positive feedback in a notebook.
- Regularly make time to go back through all of the positive feedback you’ve received and try to understand what you’ve done to be worthy of this feedback.
Step 4 - Practice failure
Failure is an integral part of the process to success. And as fear of failure is one of the symptoms of imposter syndrome, we should invest time learning how to fail well.
Here’s a place to start:
- Realise that failure is directly attached to expectations. So set realistic expectations of yourself based on the objective circumstances. (E.g if you’ve never tried before, it will be difficult and the results won’t be perfect.)
- Scrap the idea of perfection - there’s no such thing.
- Seek out and do things that you’re not good at. You’ll get more comfortable at not being perfect.
- Stop thinking about how you failed, and start thinking about what you’ve done well and what you’ve learnt.
- Start adding the word ‘yet’ to negative statements about yourself. E.g. I don’t have a killer idea, yet!.
Step 5 - Learn to embrace vulnerability
Learning to embrace vulnerability is at the core of saying goodby to imposter syndrome for good, and saying hello to your full potential.
Step 6 - Realise it’s a process
Learning is a process, so try to remember this.
Even when implementing these concepts into your life, it’s going to take time to learn and change.
So go easy on yourself, and give yourself recognition for taking this first step...