Posted on Wednesday, 11th April 2018
Hi, I’m Laura and sometimes I have Imposter Syndrome. I think this is something that most people have felt at some point in their work life. That terrifying thought that we are a fraud, we don’t deserve to be in this position, and any minute someone is going to find this out and expose us. It seems to be a feeling that doesn’t discriminate- most of us feel it at some point. I have seen a lot of pieces about it affecting women much more than men. This is perhaps a topic for another day. I personally have spoken to both men and women who have experienced it, both in my personal life and in the counselling room. I am writing this with everyone who is affected in mind.
There is so much to say on the topic of Imposter Syndrome, and probably so many people who can say it better than I (Imposter Syndrome alert!). But today I am going to share some points which may be helpful to consider if this is affecting you at the moment.
You are not alone
As I have said, so many people feel this. I have read countless interviews with amazing, successful and powerful people who all admit they often feel they are a ‘fraud’, as well as having long chats with my amazing accomplished friends with wonderful jobs about how inadequate they feel. While the fact that so many of us feel like this is sad, the other takeaway can be that you are in good company. Everyone feels like this! This doesn’t diminish your feeling, but rather normalises it.
Next time you find yourself having these thoughts, test out how real they are. What exactly are you worried about? Do you have any evidence for this? When was the last time you successfully completed a task at work? When was the last time you did something absolutely disastrous at work? It is very easy to use sweeping statements when criticising ourselves. But if you were asked to support what you were saying with hard evidence, would you be able to?
Talk to yourself like a friend
If your friend was feeling insecure about their abilities, what would you say to them? I am pretty sure you would not say to them the same things you say to yourself when you are having a bad day. So use this. Talk to yourself how you would a friend. This is not disingenuous. We still know our friends’ flaws. But we also know their strengths and all the reasons that have to believe in themselves.
Complacency is Dangerous
Let’s think for a moment what the opposite of Imposter Syndrome would be. Feeling like you know everything there is to know about the job and that no one can do it as well as you? This is equally unhealthy I think. In certain jobs, complacency can be downright dangerous. It is good to be kept on your toes a bit. It is always useful to feel a little out of your comfort zone as it means you are growing and evolving. It also can mean that your attention to detail and the effort you put in is increased. We can sometimes attribute a lot of negativity to any uncomfortable feeling, but a healthy dose of these feelings can make us more conscientious and productive.
Write a ‘done’ list
I am notorious for writing ‘to do’ lists. If it’s not on the list, it won’t get done. These can become unhelpful. It is another pressure and reminder of all the things you are yet to do. So, at the end of the day, try writing a ‘done’ list. Physically write a list of all the things you did that day. This provides us with the positive reinforcement we often forget to give to ourselves. We can look at this list and be reminded of all the things we accomplished that day.
Record Positive Feedback
Have you ever noticed how good you are at remembering all the criticism or negative things that people have said to you? What about the good stuff? We are much more likely to remember the criticism and use it to back up our negative thoughts about ourselves, and disregard the positive feedback, assuming it is not really true. This has to stop!
Every time someone gives you positive feedback about something, write it down. This may seem strange, but it will do two things; 1. Writing it down will help you absorb and remember it, 2. You will have a ready made list of true, positive things people have said about you to refer to next time you are having a crisis of confidence.
Every day try telling someone about something you did connected to work that you were pleased with. We live in a bit of a culture of complaining or being self deprecating. Saying out loud some positive things about your day can shift the focus and help us absorb it even more. This may feel uncomfortable at times as it may feel like bragging. But think about when a loved one tells you something positive they have achieved- I’m sure you just feel really happy for them right?
If you think you would benefit from some counselling sessions to discuss this topic further, or any other issues, then why not get in touch?