When you feel like you’re never enough, it can be tough to focus on your job. You might even feel that you’re not doing a good enough job, or that you’ll fail eventually because of how hard you work.
This is impostor syndrome, and it’s totally normal.
It happens to everyone. Even professional athletes struggle with this at times. In fact, one famous athlete actually wrote an entire book about it!
Impostor Syndrome comes from feeling inadequate about your skills and knowledge. You may believe yourself to be less competent than others, which makes you worry whether people will think highly of you.
This mental state can make it harder for you to enjoy what you are doing and contribute more effectively at your job. It also hurts your self-confidence and feelings of self-worth.
Fortunately, there are things you can do to help mitigate the effects of impostor syndrome. This article contains strategies for both professionals who experience impostor symptoms and individuals who relate to these tips.
Definition and symptoms
According to Psychology Dictionary, impostor syndrome is characterized by the following:
“The feeling that you are not as smart or competent as others around you
That you will never be able to perform well because you do not feel that you have prepared enough or invested in yourself sufficiently
That people will always be better than you
That you can’t trust your own perception or ability
That you should probably just give up and accept being mediocre instead of trying hard”
These feelings come from experiencing low self-esteem and/or poor self-confidence. When these experiences occur frequently, it can result in the development of impersonation syndrome. This fear of excellence can sometimes lead to harmful behaviours such as avoidance of tasks due to fears of failing them.
It is important to note that while some individuals may develop IS after an eventful life with many failures, most experience this condition at some stage in their lives. It is typically experienced early in adulthood when self-confidence is lower and success less frequent. For example, students often struggle with impostor syndrome during exam times due to lack of sleep and stress.
When you feel like your job is too hard or that you’re not good enough, it can be tough to find the motivation to keep going. You may even think about giving up and finding something simpler so that you do not have to deal with such high expectations.
That would be a terrible mistake.
Thinking of quitting is just as bad as feeling like you are failing already.
Seek expert help
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When you feel like you’re never good enough, it can be hard to motivate yourself to keep pushing through and seeking out opportunities. It’s easy to get stuck in a rut and give up, but don’t!
Impostor syndrome is an uncomfortable feeling that we sometimes experience when we think people may perceive us as less competent than we really are.
It happens when we doubt our own abilities and skills, even for a few seconds. This can affect how we feel about ourselves and what we do — can make us fear failure, which only adds to the stress already caused by imposter feelings.
Fortunately, there are things you can do to manage this. Here are some tips for lowering your symptoms and eventually overcoming imposter syndrome.
Understand why you suffer from imposter syndrome
This will go a long way towards helping you deal with your condition. There could be several reasons why you feel insecure about your own ability or talent, so try to pinpoint them.
Research potential causes online and see if anything helps reduce your symptoms. For example, talking about your fears with someone close to you can help you work through them.
Certain factors seem to contribute most to imposter syndrome, including the following.
Social media influence
Thinking too much about all of the other people who have done something makes you compare your skill to theirs.
Don’t compare yourself to others
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A lot of people develop impostor syndrome at some stage in their lives, but it often escalates into a full-blown clinical condition. When this happens, your self-confidence can plummet and you may feel like you’re constantly lying to everyone around you about how good you are or even whether you exist.
This is not a healthy situation for anyone involved, so trying to understand why you developed IS and what consequences it might have had is an important first step towards managing it.
It’s also worth noting that while there is no clear definition of impostor syndrome, researchers do agree that it tends to affect more women than men. This could be because society places a higher value on female success, or because women are socialized from a young age to prioritize relationships over achievements.
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One of the most important things you can do to manage impostor syndrome is to practice mindfulness or conscious breathing. This can be done through yoga, transcendental meditation (also known as TM), Buddhist prayer practices, or any other type of meditation.
Mindfulness exercises are typically focused on taking an extended period of time to focus only on your breath. You will also probably notice thoughts coming and going during the exercise.
Some people use their breaths to count down from ten before exhaling, while others simply breathe in and out for a set amount of time. No matter what kind of meditation you choose, just start with one minute and see how long you can last!
Practising mindfulness has been shown to reduce stress levels, improve self-confidence, increase concentration, promote sleep, and work towards healing. All of these benefits help with symptoms of impostor syndrome!
Held every morning, midday, and evening, this short practice can have profound effects on your mental health and well-being. Given that there are no costs associated with practising mindfulness, it should be a part of everyone’s daily routine.
I would recommend starting with five minutes for each session and working up from there. Also, try to do the practice daily at the same time and place so that it becomes natural.
Connect with others
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When you feel like you’re never quite good enough, it is important to connect with other people. Ask your colleagues how they handle their job responsibilities and learn from them. Or ask someone who has done what you want to do for tips.
The more conversations you have, the better you will understand yourself and your field. Plus, talking about your career can be a source of motivation for other people.
By sharing stories and experiences, you give each other permission to have similar thoughts and feelings. This helps reduce self-consciousness and allows other people to help you find solutions to your perceived problems.
The connection also gives you an opportunity to witness the accomplishments of other professionals. Seeing such success inspires you to keep moving forward towards your goal.
Imposter syndrome is not your fault, but it can make you feel like there’s something wrong with you. It may even cause you to question whether you are worthy of this or that praise.
When we feel insecure about our performance, a part of us becomes sceptical of its accuracy. We wonder if people really think we’re good enough – or maybe they just want to be around us.
This can turn into fear of loss — what if people find out how bad I am? Or fear of success -what if everyone realizes how incompetent I am?
Both these fears can paralyze us and prevent us from taking action. This only adds to the stress we already have due to impostorism.
Fortunately, you don’t need to completely rid yourself of anxiety surrounding your job performance. Rather, you can learn to recognize when anxiety has become too much and take breaks to relax.
You also need to acknowledge that you have done good work and that you know what you’re doing- which are both very helpful in combating imposter feelings.
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A few things can help you manage your impostor syndrome if you recognise it. First, you need to acknowledge that this feeling is totally normal and even healthy at times. It’s completely natural to feel like an illusion sometimes — especially when you put in a lot of effort into something and nothing seems to be coming easy.
This can easily turn into feelings of fear or self-doubt, which are equally damaging. So, remember: it’s okay to feel these emotions!
You don’t have to take them seriously, but do try to notice how they’re affecting you. And once you’ve recognised that you’re not alone, talk about your worries with someone you trust.
And finally, give yourself permission to take time off to recover from what you’ve been putting in effort towards.