Conquering Imposter Syndrome

“Few women believe they are successful because they don’t feel successful.  In the deepest recesses of our hearts, we feel like failures –counterfeits, frauds.  But even if we know we are successful, we rarely admit it.  The world does not like braggarts.  And we want the world – every last person in it – to like us.  We suffer from a potent combination of public and private conditioning over a lifetime.”  Sarah Ban Breathnach, Simple Abundance.

4 women sitting on a bench one with a dog
Dealing With Imposter Syndrome

 

Conquering Imposter Syndrome: Embrace Your True Potential

 

Have you ever felt like a fraud in your own accomplishments, fearing that others will eventually discover you don’t deserve your success? If you’ve experienced these self-doubts, then you may be familiar with the phenomenon known as Imposter Syndrome.

 

SO what is Imposter Syndrome? How and why does it affects people, especially high-achieving career women, and most importantly what are some tips for overcoming it. Let’s break free from the grasp of self-doubt and discover how to fully embrace our talents and achievements.

 

Understanding Imposter Syndrome:

 

Imposter Syndrome refers to the persistent belief that you are undeserving of your achievements, attributing your success to luck or mere coincidence rather than personal competence.   Do you see yourself in this statement?  I know I do at times.  This self-doubt can significantly impact your confidence and limit your potential, holding you back from reaching new heights.

 

What happens when it sets in? In come the 3 Ps: Perfectionism, Paralysis, and Procrastination. Either one of the 3 P’s or a combination of them, are a result. Perfectionism: “I have to do it perfectly and can’t mess up” or else they’ll find out I can’t do this, I’ll be fired, or they’ll find someone else who can!

 

Why Does Imposter Syndrome Occur?

 

Here are some of the triggers.

Perfectionism: Striving for perfection can lead to a constant fear of making mistakes or falling short of expectations, which fuels Imposter Syndrome.

Comparisons: Constantly comparing oneself to others, especially those who are perceived as more successful, can intensify feelings of not measuring up.

Early Experiences: Childhood experiences, upbringing, and past failures can contribute to developing a negative self-perception.

Unrealistic Expectations: Setting excessively high standards for oneself can lead to feelings of inadequacy when those standards aren’t met.

Imposter Syndrome can stem from a variety of factors, including perfectionism, comparison to others, and fear of failure. It often arises in high-achieving individuals who have set remarkably high standards for themselves. These feelings may also be fueled by external factors, such as societal expectations or negative feedback.

Types of Imposter Syndrome

 

Here are some types of Imposter Syndrome.  Where do you see yourself?  I have identified with the Soloist.

 

The Perfectionist: Setting unattainable standards and feeling inadequate when these standards aren’t met.

The Expert: Believing that one needs to know everything and feeling like a fraud when faced with uncertainty or learning opportunities.

The Natural Genius: Believing that achievements should come effortlessly, leading to self-doubt when effort and time are required.

The Soloist: Reluctance to ask for help, feeling that seeking assistance would reveal incompetence.

The Superhero: Overworking and overachieving to prove one’s worth, leading to burnout and stress.

 

So now that we know a little more about what it is, how do we go about beating it back?

woman standing by a laptop on a desk
Dealing with Imposter Syndrome

 

Tips for Conquering Imposter Syndrome:

 

  1. Recognize and Accept Your Achievements: Acknowledge your accomplishments as the product of your hard work, skills, and perseverance. Take time to reflect on your journey, identifying the challenges you overcame and the lessons learned along the way. Celebrate your achievements, no matter how small, and let them serve as reminders of your capabilities.

 

Often we work hard, complete a project and move on into the next one without taking the time to acknowledge what we accomplished.  We need to give ourselves a little pat on the back from time to time.

 

  1. Challenge Self-Doubts: When negative thoughts creep in, question their validity. Challenge the evidence behind your self-doubts and strive to replace them with positive affirmations. Surround yourself with supportive individuals who recognize your talents and accomplishments, as they can provide valuable reminders of your worth.

 

It is beneficial to actually write down those negative thoughts and then cross it out and write a positive thought to replace it.

 

  1. Embrace Imperfections and Learn from Failure: Acknowledge that perfection is an illusion and embrace the fact that making mistakes is a natural part of growth. Use setbacks and failures as opportunities to learn, adjust, and improve. Understanding that no one is infallible allows you to approach challenges with a growth mindset, ultimately boosting your self-confidence.

 

Read stories about Walt Disney and Colonel Sanders and Edison to understand that everyone fails and that it’s okay.  It’s the lessons we learn from our failures that are the most important thing.

 

  1. Avoid Comparisons: Remember that everyone’s journey is unique. Instead of fixating on the achievements of others, focus on your own progress and personal growth. Comparison can breed self-doubt, making it important to measure success against your individual goals and values rather than against others.

 

If you have been scrolling through Facebook or Instagram seeing lovely images, remember, they are often prepared in advance and don’t represent real life.

 

  1. Seek Support and Be Vulnerable: Reach out to trusted friends, mentors, or support groups to discuss your feelings of Imposter Syndrome. Often, sharing your experiences with others can provide reassurance and help you realize that you are not alone. Being vulnerable allows you to build meaningful connections, gain different perspectives, and gain valuable insights.

 

So many times I have heard people say, “I thought I was the only one who felt this way”.  Remember most of us have experienced Imposter Syndrome at one time or another.

 

Even Maya Angelou was not immune.  “I have written 11 books but each time I think ‘Uh-oh, they’re going to find out now,'” the novelist Maya Angelou once said. “I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.”

 

Some celebrities have spoken openly about having imposter syndrome. Joshua Jackson said the money he made from “Dawson’s Creek” in his twenties made him feel like a fraud. Bella Hadid said conversations surrounding her success and image gave her imposter syndrome.

 

Conclusion:

Imposter Syndrome may be pervasive, but it is not insurmountable. By recognizing your achievements, challenging self-doubts, learning from failures, avoiding comparisons, and seeking support, you can overcome Imposter Syndrome and embrace your true potential.

two women in a field of flowers high fiving each other
You can beat Imposter Syndrome!

 

Remember, you deserve the success you have achieved – believe in yourself and let your confidence soar!

 

 

 

To beating back imposter syndrome.

Fran

P.S.   Here is a copy of a poem I wrote several years ago that I keep going back to when I am feeling like an imposter.  bookmarks Risk

13 thoughts on “Conquering Imposter Syndrome”

  1. I have the super hero type. Damn it. I work myself to death and then crash. One shift I have been able to make, I’m now more okay with making mistakes, embracing mistakes, and encouraging myself as well as others to applaud our courage to keep trying, anyway! Thank you for sharing the three Ps as I can relate to all three of them. I also think you picked a beautiful quote for the beginning of this post. I love it!

  2. Thank you for clearly defining Imposter Syndrome. This is great advice whether you have Imposter Syndrome or not. I love the solutions to the Imposter Syndrome. The graphics also add to the article. I have worked on my perfectionism, but it creeps up now and then. Great article! Thank you!

  3. Thank you for sharing this insightful article. As I read it I wondered, is it just women who deal with imposter syndrome or do men also deal with this. From what you describe my sense is that this is something that many women deal with. This makes me wonder if little girls and young women were treated by society the same way that they treat little boys and young men, if fewer women would have to deal with this self-limited syndrome. Fran, thank you also for sharing solutions to overcome this.

    1. Yes, men also suffer from Imposter Syndrome, but I decided to focus more on women as that is what I am familiar with. Some of my male career clients have admitted to being impacted by it.

  4. Thank you so much for this very relevant post. I am a cross between a Soloist and a Superhero. I work and grind incessantly, but feel like I just work in a silo sometimes.

    I can recognize imposter syndrome now, but still let it creep in occasionally with out stopping it cold.

    Love the quote at the beginning of your post. I could definitely feel that!

  5. Fran, what a great post. You have so much helpful information in this post. Although I believe many people have experienced it, it looks different for us all, so it was good to see a definition of imposter syndrome.

    I particularly liked that you explained why imposter syndrome occurs because often we know that we’re feeling these feelings but not why which is a key component of being able to deal with those feelings and turning them around.

    I also enjoyed reading actionable tips that we can take the next time imposter syndrome has us in its grip!

  6. Oh I see myself here for sure! Perfectionism, Expert, Genius – yep lots of kinds of Imposter Syndrome at work. I can talk about embracing ‘failure’ as just another data point, a lesson learned but it’s tough and can still trigger the self doubt demons. Thanks for sharing ways to keep beating back and being our full selves.

  7. Hi Fran, I am definitely “the expert” with a large amount of “the perfectionist” thrown in. I can’t finish a new website even though I have created a good landing page that is successfully bringing in leads as I am worried that it is not “perfect” and doesn’t offer enough information to get people to stay after the first 3 seconds we are supposed to have to grab their attention. I will take your advice, challenge my self-doubts, and get a good friend who “knows her stuff” to look it over for me. Thanks!!

  8. Fran,
    What a great and timely post. I find myself a combination of Perfectionist, Natural Genius and Soloist. I guess that might mean I even strive to succeed as an imposter!

    Knowing this information can be so empowering. The feelings will likely still come and once we are aware of what we are feeling we can implement tools and resources to bring us back to center. We are here to learn and to grow and this is just one of the many lessons that we will continue to face and overcome as we travel the road of life!

    Thank you!

  9. This is so true of so many of us, you know the Boss Babes. We know our stuff but we get caught up in the crap that keeps ups from showing up to be the best version of ourselves.
    Of the 5 types of imposter syndrome that you listed, I’ve experienced them all. It became part of my DNA, and its sad to say, but being a perfectionist, understanding that they expected me to be the expert and being selective on who I asked for help was how I survived.

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