Imposter Syndrome is a pattern of thoughts which lead a person to believe they are not as competent as others and that they have achieved things ‘out of luck’ and not because of their skills.
The clue is in the name, but these feelings and thoughts can make a person feel like an ‘imposter’, a ‘fraud’ or even a ‘phony’. Unfortunately, 90% of women in the UK say they have experienced Imposter Syndrome.
Some of the tell-tale signs of experience this feeling is when you begin to think –
If you recognise that you experience these feelings from time to time, you may be able to see first-hand how it affects your confidence, productivity, and career. These are things that we hold as extremely important, especially in terms of our identity, and to have that voice tell us any different can be soul-crushing.
You should remember that this is entirely normal and more likely than not, other people are thinking the exact same thing about themselves.
Thinking about changing your thoughts when you feel like this is a step in the right direction! However, it’s not easy and not a quick-fix but something you need to repeat until it becomes natural. You can start this new positive habit by reframing or rethinking phrases you previously would think into inspiring and constructive ones, such as:
“I was hired out of pure luck” changes to “They saw my skills and experiences as the best and most suitable for my role – I wasn’t hired for any other reason.”
“They will see that I’m not good enough and that I’m a fraud” changes to “My achievements and hard work have led me to this point in my career and that is evidenced in my successes.”
“I don’t really know this, so I’m not as skilled as I thought” changes to “No-one knows everything. So, I’ll continue to go on my learning journey and I’m excited to progress my skills!”
This can be an A4 piece of paper or an 80 slides long presentation, whatever medium you feel comfortable with – record all of your achievements.
This could be sectioned into each job you’ve had or your top 10 which you are most proud of. Another great idea we saw on Twitter from FlossAus is to make a folder in your Emails called ‘praises’ where you can fill it with all of the positive feedback you receive.
The purpose of this is so you have evidence to remind yourself that you are skilled and qualified in your career. When you next experience those feelings, make it a habit to open that list or positive feedback and read it.
If these thoughts and feelings are really getting you down and affecting the way you work or slipping through to your personal life, speak to someone.
This can be a friend or family member or if you’re comfortable and have that supportive network in the workplace, speak to a peer or a leader.
This will lift some of that pressure from you and you will get that external reassurance that you are doing just fine how you are.
Despite how you feel about your own career or yourself during those tricky moments, try to remember to be kind to yourself.
When thinking we’re an imposter or a fraud, we are already at our lowest. We can’t combat these feelings if we start to pile on more issues or pressure onto ourselves.
Remember that everyone, including your peers, friends, family and workplace leaders, may feel like this sometimes. Even those in the spotlight such as Lizzo, Maya Angelou and Katarina Johnson-Thompson have expressed that they’ve felt like ‘imposters’.