4 Tips for Conquering Your Impostor Syndrome
Impostor syndrome is the psychological belief that you're inadequate and incompetent, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary. It’s more than just insecurity; it’s persistent self-doubt about your accomplishments, and the feeling that any success must have been undeserved. There’s also fear of being exposed as a fraud—that’s where the “impostor” part comes in.
Impostor syndrome can manifest itself in many ways. Maybe you’ve recently been promoted and are thinking, “Why me? Other people have been here longer than I have and could probably do a much better job.” Or you’ve been asked to lead a project but you worry, “I only did a great job on my last project because of good timing. It’s going to become apparent that I was just lucky last time.”
Perhaps you’ve been asked to speak at a conference. If your first reaction is, “I can’t believe they picked my proposal! It’s only a matter of time before the conference organizers, other speakers, and audience will realize I don’t know what I’m talking about,” then you’re a victim.
Don’t sell yourself short. There are ways you can conquer your impostor syndrome.
1. Confide in someone
Once you’ve identified the root cause of your worry—such as that new job title, high-stakes responsibility, or upcoming public event—tell someone you trust to be honest with you. This can be a close coworker, significant other, or friend. Chances are that person will see your fears as irrational and remind you of the strengths that got you where you are.
2. Trust those who trusted you
One characteristic of imposter syndrome is that you feel like you pulled one over on whoever put you in your current (agonizing) position. But think about the person who promoted you, encouraged you to take the lead, or chose you to share your knowledge. Is that person an idiot? Hopefully you said no! That person made deliberate choices based on your experience and potential, so trust their judgment—you really do deserve their confidence.
3. Keep a “win jar”
Start recording your successes and compliments and putting them in a jar on your desk. Whenever you’re feeling down or uncertain about yourself, go over the “wins” and be reminded of how much you’ve accomplished. Your jar doesn’t even have to be physical; you also could make an email folder to file away any message congratulating you on a job well done.
4. Fake it ’til you make it
Do you start many sentences with “I feel like” or “I think maybe”? These kinds of hedging words reflect a lack of confidence. Start being more assertive in your language and it can change your psyche, too. Similarly, if you’re feeling shaky on your first day of work or right before you’re about to give a presentation, strike a powerful pose. It may sound silly, but taking a Superman stance can give you the boost of confidence you need to start strong—which will help you stay strong.
Do you have any other tips for conquering impostor syndrome?