Have you ever had the sense that there’s an imposter among us- but worse, it’s you? Maybe you’re afraid to voice that feeling, because you’ll be thrown out the airlock! In truth, you might find out your own crewmates also feel like they’re sus. Read on to learn Ryan’s advice about Imposter Syndrome.

What Is Imposter Syndrome?

Imposter Syndrome is known by several names, including Imposter Phenomenon, Imposter Experience, and Imposteritis. Whatever name it goes by, the impact is the same. Imposter Syndrome can be defined as a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success. ‘Imposters’ suffer from chronic self-doubt and a sense of intellectual fraudulence that override any feelings of success or external proof of their competence.

Who Is Affected by Imposter Syndrome?

Do any of these sound like you?

  • Feeling like success is impossible
  • Feeling incompetent despite demonstrating competency
  • Fear of not meeting another person’s expectations
  • Feeling like past successes and hard work were only due to luck
  • Feeling incapable of performing at the same level every time
  • Feeling uncomfortable with receiving praise or congratulations
  • Feeling disappointed over current accomplishments
  • Feeling doubtful of successes
  • Feeling constant pressure to achieve or be better than before
  • Feeling stressed, anxious or depressed from feelings of inadequacy

You may have imposter syndrome. It manifests in different ways for different people. Psychologists have identified four main ways to exhibit imposter syndrome:

The Perfectionist – Perfectionists are never satisfied and always feel as if their work could be better. Rather than focusing on their strengths they tend to fixate on their flaws or mistakes. No matter how insignificant. The Perfectionist sets impossibly high standards for themselves. This often leads to self pressure and high amounts of anxiety.

The Super Hero – Because these individuals feel inadequate, they feel compelled to push themselves to work as hard as possible, regardless of the consequences on mental, physical and emotional health. This can cause someone to burnout hard and not enjoy their work or other aspects of their life.

The Expert – These individuals are always trying to learn more and are never satisfied with their level of understanding. Even though they are often highly skilled, they underate their own performance. This person may feel like they are less experienced than their colleagues if they do not know an answer or have knowledge on certain topics. And The time spent searching for information on that subject, could have been better used to complete other tasks.

The Soloist – These people tend to be very individualist and prefer to work alone. Self-worth often stems from their productivity, so they often do not ask for assistance. They might see asking for help a sign of weakness or incompetence.

Why Is Imposter Syndrome a Problem?

Imposter Syndrome can stop people from sharing ideas or applying for positions where they’d excel. In some cases, a person may not feel sufficiently challenged in their work, but a fear of failure or discovery stops them from seeking promotion or extra responsibility

You might see a job listing that is perfect for you in terms of skills and experience, but Imposter Syndrome can make you feel inadequate for the job. Thinking you are not good enough may cause you to miss out on big opportunities. Eventually, these feelings worsen anxiety and may lead to depression. People who experience this syndrome also tend not to talk about how they are feeling with anyone and struggle in silence.

10 Ways to Combat Imposter Syndrome

  1. Break the Silence. Shame keeps a lot of people from talking about their fraudulent feelings. Knowing there’s a name for these feelings and that you are not alone can be tremendously freeing. Ryan says, “I remember speaking to my coworkers and boss about these feelings and it was a weight off my shoulders when they told me they also struggled with these feelings.”
  2. Feelings Aren’t Facts. There are times you will make mistakes or feel stupid. It happens to everyone from time to time. Realize that just because you may feel stupid, doesn’t mean you are.
  3. Recognize The Feeling. A sense of belonging fosters confidence. If you’re the only one of a few people in a meeting, classroom, field, or workplace who look or sound like you or are much older or younger, then it’s only natural you’d sometimes feel like you don’t totally fit in. Instead of taking your self-doubt as a sign of your ineptness, recognize that it might be a normal response to being on the receiving end of social stereotypes about competence and intelligence.
  4. Focus on the Positives. The good news about having these feelings means you care deeply about the quality of your work. The key is to continue to strive for excellence when it matters most, but don’t focus too much over routine tasks and forgive yourself when you make a mistake.
  5. Failure Won’t Kill You. Henry Ford once said, “Failure is only the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.” Instead of beating yourself up for falling short, do what players on the losing sports team do and glean the learning value from the loss and move on reminding yourself, “I’ll get ’em next time.”
  6. Rethink the Rules. If you’ve been operating under rules like, “I should always know the answer,” or “Never ask for help” start asserting your rights. Recognize that you have just as much right as the next person to be wrong, have an off-day, or ask for assistance.
  7. Flip the Script. Become consciously aware of the conversation going on in your head when you’re in a situation that triggers your Impostor feelings. This is your internal script. Then instead of thinking, “Wait till they find out I have no idea what I’m doing,” tell yourself “Everyone who starts something new feels off-base in the beginning. I may not know all the answers but I’m smart enough to find them out.” Instead of looking around the room and thinking, “Oh my God everyone here is brilliant…. and I’m not” go with “Wow, everyone here is brilliant – I’m really going to learn a lot!”
  8. Visualize Success. Do what professional athletes do. Spend time beforehand picturing yourself making a successful presentation or calmly posing your question in class. It sure beats picturing impending disaster and will help with performance-related stress.
  9. Reward Success. Reward yourself. Break the cycle of continually seeking others approval and then dismissing it. Learn to pat yourself on the back.
  10. Fake it ‘Til You Make It. Now and then we all have to fly by the seat of our pants. Instead of considering “winging it” as proof of your ineptness, learn to do what many high achievers do and view it as a skill. The point of the worn-out phrase, fake it til you make it, still stands: Don’t wait until you feel confident to start putting yourself out there.

Finally, remember: You are capable, You are talented, & You belong. There is no imposter Among Us!

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