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April 19th, 2021

You deserve to be where you are, don’t let imposter syndrome tell you otherwise

By Dan Whale

  • Adjustment Disorder
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Stress

We all have moments where we can perhaps doubt our abilities or talents. When starting a new job or working on a new project, it can negatively impact our self-esteem if things are more challenging than we hoped or expected.

However, whilst feeling out of our depth from time to time is completely normal, if you find yourself constantly questioning whether you really belong in your line of work or fearful that you’re going to be ‘found out’, you may be experiencing imposter syndrome.

What is imposter syndrome?

Imposter Syndrome is the overwhelming feeling that we don’t deserve the success that we’ve achieved. It makes us convince our self that we are not particularly talented or intelligent, especially when compared to those around us, and that we mainly benefitted from being in the right place at the right time.

It is most common in those with professional, high-paying jobs and disproportionately affects women - women of colour even more so. However, it can affect people in other circumstances such as university.

Symptoms

Imposter Syndrome is usually linked to anxiety. The constant fear of being ‘found out’ leads us to over preparing for tasks or working excessively hard on things that don’t necessarily require it.

This creates a vicious circle, as if the task/presentation/performance etc goes well, we tell ourselves that this was only because we stayed up all night working on it. Even when we succeed, imposter syndrome doesn’t allow us to feel good about it. There’s always a ‘well, it was only because of this…’.

As these feelings develop and worsen, depression can sink in as the feeling of never being good enough weighs down on us. The constant pressure we put on ourselves can also lead to burnout.

Ways to tackle it

Imposter Syndrome clearly has the potential to become a real pain point in our lives, but it can be pinned back and even alleviated entirely.

Talk to someone: As is so often the best first step in treating mental health, talking to others about how we’re feeling can make a big difference. The irrational ideas in our heads have much more chance of festering and doing damage if we keep them to ourselves. Whether it’s a mentor, colleague or just a friend, tell them how you’re feeling and try to be open to your thoughts on the matter being challenged.

Assess your abilities by helping others: Try helping people that are perhaps not as experienced or not in the same position as you. As you do this, you’ll come to realise and appreciate the expertise that you have. If this isn’t possible, try making a list of your accomplishments and what you, or others, think you’re good at.

Drill into yourself that no one is perfect: When surrounded by high achievers who seem to be finding things far easier than yourself it can be hard to believe, but try to come to the realisation that no one is perfect. Noone is effortlessly sailing through life, tasks or challenges, even if it seems that way. Focusing on perfection is always going to cause problems. Do a task ‘well enough’ and remind yourself to mark a success with celebrating in some way.

Flip your thinking: It might be difficult, but try to remember that if you’re experiencing imposter syndrome, you must have achieved a certain amount of success. If you’re struggling to convince yourself that you deserve it, try to focus on accepting it and being grateful for the good things it has brought you.

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Putting these tips into practise is not always easy - even coming to terms with the fact that you’re experiencing Imposter Syndrome is something that many struggle with. What’s important is that you shouldn’t accept having an unhappy work life.

If you could use an extra hand, a Clinical Psychologist can help you work through what’s been mentioned above. Talk to HelloSelf today and we can match you to a therapist that specialises in treating imposter syndrome.

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