Ever feel like you don’t deserve the job you’re in and think you’re not actually qualified enough to be there? Are you sure people will find out that you’re making things up as you go and you’re not as confident as they would believe? We’re here to explain all, with our best advice on how to deal with impostor syndrome.
What is it?
Impostor syndrome has affected around 70% of people at some point in their lives according to one study published in the International Journal of Behavioral Science, but not many people understand what it is. Impostor Syndrome is the name given to a phenomenon where you feel like you’re only at a certain point in your life or career due to pure luck and not success earned through work. The term was first coined in 1978 and it affects men and women, meaning a lot of people are walking around feeling pretty bad about the positions they’re in.
Experiencing it can cause you to doubt your current job or even your whole career, to feel like everyone else is more genuinely skilled than you and you’ll eventually be ‘caught out’ for not being qualified or talented enough, and to feel that any praise or acknowledgement your work receives isn’t deserved.
Talk it out
Part of the reason that Impostor Syndrome is so common is because skilled people assume that everyone around them is just as skilled, or more skilled than them and that they don’t seem to have any problems, meaning a lot of people think it’s just them that doesn’t deserve to be there. In reality, so many people think this, but are too scared to voice their concerns, so no one gets any relief from their worries.
Don’t worry that people will only confirm your fears. Almost everyone is like a duck – calm on the surface and paddling furiously underneath – and knowing you’re not alone is an important step. It can provide such relief to hear someone else sigh and say ‘oh it’s not just me!’
Change your response
If every time you experience feelings of doubt about achieving something it automatically makes you feel guilty, worthless or stupid, you need to change your mental responses. This may take time, but try to take a second when you feel like this way. Tell yourself that you’re not stupid, or fraudulent, and that chances are someone nearby will be having the exact same feelings. If you have these thoughts when starting a new project or task, and think that it will only reveal how incompetent you are, change the tune. Learn to think instead that even if you do struggle, it’s not a sign that you’re not competent. It’s just a learning opportunity instead and you’re capable enough to get the knowledge.
Accept the praise
Similar to changing the way you approach new opportunities, one of the best ways to deal with Impostor Syndrome is to change how you view praise. Instead of feeling that you don’t deserve it and someone else does, learn to accept it graciously. Recognise it as genuine approval that you wouldn’t have received if you didn’t earn it and reward yourself for doing something well that has clearly been noticed.
Ask for help
If you’ve kept yourself constrained with the rule that you can’t ask for help or people will think you’re incompetent then this has to change. No one is perfect at everything and everyone needs a helping hand sometimes. Learn not to get in a panic about maintaining a ‘perfect’ image and to discuss things with others, seeking their opinions and advice. If you make this change then others who look up to you will also realise that it’s okay to need a boost.
It’s so easy to compare yourself to other people and to view them as better, smarter and more successful, but this is dangerous. Putting other people on a pedestal, when they also think they’re lesser than someone else gets you nowhere. Recognise that everyone has their own skills and talents and it’s okay to admire someone’s tenacity, enthusiasm or confidence, but it doesn’t mean you don’t also have admirable skills.
Want to see what other great advice we have? Our blog covers everything from new jobs, switching jobs, interviews, the work-life balance and more!