Imposter Syndrome is the feeling of being a fraud despite evidence of success. It’s like your inner voice is constantly whispering in your ear, “You’re not good enough, everyone will figure out you’re a fraud, you’re going to get caught any moment now.”
It’s the feeling of being an undercover agent in your own life, constantly waiting for someone to expose you. Some people describe feeling like they are a character in a movie who is just waiting for the moment when the audience figures out you’re not the real deal.
Even folks who are highly successful struggle with this psychological phenomenon.
Both Imposter syndrome and burnout can stem from a feeling of inadequacy or lack of control. If you suffer from imposter syndrome, you may put excessive pressure on yourself to achieve perfection, which can lead to burnout as you become overwhelmed by the constant need to prove yourself.
Feeling like an imposter may lead to feelings of guilt and self-doubt, and this can lead to chronic stress and burnout. Furthermore, people with imposter syndrome may avoid seeking help or delegating tasks, which can lead to a buildup of responsibilities and eventually to burnout.
To help you crack the code on this, we’ll be discussing the triggers and underlying mechanisms as well as how you can overcome this insecurity (at least for now).
What Leads to Imposter Syndrome
While you may be truly competent in your job, your confidence can become shaken during major life changes or events.. Some examples include:
- Starting a new job or promotion
- Entering a new field or industry
- Going back to school
- Having a baby
- Moving to a new city or country
To identify pivot points that may be contributing to imposter syndrome, it can be helpful to reflect on any major changes or transitions in your life, and to pay attention to any feelings of self-doubt or insecurity that may have surfaced around those times. It may also help to talk to a therapist or coach to gain a better understanding of your feelings and to develop strategies for coping.
Identifying what might be triggering Imposter Syndrome
Identifying what’s triggering your imposter syndrome can be an important step in managing and overcoming this experience. Some ways to identify your triggers include:
- Keeping a journal: Write down your thoughts and feelings when you experience imposter syndrome. This can help you to identify patterns or specific situations that trigger the feeling.
- Reflecting on past experiences: Think about past experiences that may have contributed to your imposter syndrome, such as past failures or negative feedback.
- Paying attention to your internal dialogue: Notice the thoughts and self-talk that come up when you experience imposter syndrome. Are there specific negative or critical thoughts that consistently come up?
Remember that imposter syndrome can be triggered by a range of different factors and it can take time to identify what’s triggering your experience. Be patient and compassionate with yourself during this process.
Strategies for Overcoming Imposter Syndrome
Overcoming imposter syndrome can be challenging, but there are some strategies that can help:
- Recognize and acknowledge your feelings: The first step in overcoming imposter syndrome is recognizing and acknowledging that you have it. Understanding that these feelings are normal and common among high-achievers can help you to put them into perspective.
- Challenge negative thoughts: Imposter syndrome often manifests as negative and self-defeating thoughts. When you notice these thoughts, challenge them by questioning the evidence and reframing them in a more positive light.
- Focus on your successes and accomplishments: Keep track of your accomplishments and remind yourself of them when you are feeling doubtful. This will help you to see that your achievement are not the result of luck or deception, but rather the result of your hard work and abilities.
- Practice self-compassion: Be kind and understanding to yourself. Remember that everyone makes mistakes, and that it’s a normal part of the learning and growth process.
- Seek support: Share your feelings with a trusted friend, family member, or therapist. They can provide you with support, encouragement and feedback that can help you to overcome imposter syndrome.
- Embrace failures: Instead of viewing failures as evidence of your inadequacy, view them as opportunities to learn and grow. Every failure is a chance to learn something new, to improve your skills and to develop resilience.
- Reframe your perspective: Recognize that imposter syndrome is a mindset and you can change it by shifting your perspective. Start by focusing on what you have achieved, not on what you have yet to achieve. Recognize that everyone has strengths and weaknesses and everyone makes mistakes.
It’s important to remember that imposter syndrome is a common experience and that seeking support and taking steps to address it can lead to greater self-confidence and well-being.
Asking “What If” Questions
Asking “what if” questions can be a helpful way to become aware of unconscious contributors to imposter syndrome. Some specific “what if” questions that may be useful include:
- “What if you gave yourself credit for your accomplishments and successes?”
- “What if you allowed yourself to make mistakes without judging yourself?”
- “What if you acknowledged that everyone has moments of self-doubt, including highly successful people?”
- “What if you allowed yourself to feel confident in your abilities and skills?”
- “What if you accepted compliments and praise as validations of your capabilities?”
- “What if you reframe negative thoughts and beliefs about yourself into a more positive and realistic perspective?”
- “What if you learned to recognize and challenge internalized social messaging and stereotypes that contribute to imposter syndrome?”
- “What if you practiced self-compassion and self-validation?”
New Ways to Think About Yourself
Using skillful language can be an effective way to separate yourself from the belief that you’re an imposter. Some examples of simple yet skillful language that can be used include:
- “I am worthy of success and recognition for my accomplishments.”
- “I am capable and competent in my abilities and skills.”
- “I am not defined by my mistakes or failures.”
- “I trust in my own judgment and abilities.”
- “I am proud of my achievements and successes.”
- “I am not alone in experiencing imposter syndrome, and it does not define me.”
- “I acknowledge and accept my limitations, but also embrace my strengths.”
- “I am confident in my unique talents and abilities.”
It’s important to practice using this language in a consistent manner and to remind yourself of these statements when you feel imposter syndrome creeping in. Additionally, incorporating these statements into a daily affirmations practice can be helpful.
Here’s what life looks like after you shed your imposter syndrome
Imposter syndrome is a fictional story you tell yourself that keeps you feeling insecure. Everyone but you can see from your performance that you are competent. But no matter how well you do, you can’t see yourself in a positive light. When you overcome it, here’s what happens:
- You no longer second-guess your every decision.
- When you’ve achieved a goal, you feel good about yourself rather than worry about how tomorrow you might make a fool of yourself.
- You feel comfortable in your own skin.
In essence, your insides catch up with your outsides.
You now know how to increase self-awareness about what’s triggering you, cognitive strategies for shifting the way you think about yourself, and empowering language you can introduce to change how you feel.
But people have different learning styles.
If you are a visual learner, check out this mini-course I created called, “How to Stop Feeling Like an Imposter to Avoid Burnout.”
We take self-awareness to the next level: you’ll become aware of how your thoughts, feelings, and what you do all come together into the perfect storm.
You’ll learn several cognitive and behavioral strategies to, once and for all, shift your mindset.
Finally, if you know you’re struggling and you don’t want to do it alone, reach out and get some coaching. It’s amazing how having someone there to shine a light on the beliefs we hold in our minds without question can alter our way of thinking in a short time.
Imposter Syndrome is a psychological phenomenon where individuals feel like frauds despite evidence of their success. It is triggered by major life changes or events, internal factors such as perfectionism, fear of failure, lack of self-confidence, and difficulty accepting compliments or praise. Because it is stressful, over time it can lead to burnout if left unchecked.
To overcome imposter syndrome, identify the triggers and underlying mechanisms by keeping a journal, reflecting on past experiences, paying attention to internal dialogue and seeking professional help.
Some of the strategies for overcoming imposter syndrome overlap with those for burnout and include developing self-compassion, challenging negative thoughts, identifying and valuing one’s own achievements, and seeking support from friends, family, or even a coach.
Sometimes, working on one thing can shift everything.
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