Imposter Syndrome. Have you ever felt that all your accomplishments have been due to luck, chance, connections or anything else that isn’t your own abilities, determination, drive and talents?
If you have, you’re not alone. We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t suffer from self-doubt at least once in our lifetime.
That sinking feeling that we don’t deserve success or that we are no good at what we do can lead to what’s known as Imposter Syndrome.
So what exactly is Imposter Syndrome? Imposter Syndrome describes feelings of severe inadequacy and self-doubt that leave people fearing that they will be exposed as a “fraud”.
It is estimated that 70 percent of people will experience imposter syndrome at least once in their lives. It can affect anyone both men and women, regardless of their success.
This self-doubt can lead to stress, anxiety, self-sabotaging behaviour and burnout.
Many highly accomplished people and famous people have shared their experience with Imposter syndrome. Let’s look at what they have to say:
The civil rights activist, author, and poet Maya Angelou admitted that at times, she often felt like a fraud, once saying, “I have written 11 books, but each time I think, ‘uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.'”
Serena Williams admitted to always copying her older sister Venus. In an interview with Oprah Winfrey, Serena shared, “There were two Venus Williamses in our family – it was crazy. At restaurants my parents would make me order first, but once she ordered, I’d change my mind. It was tough for me to stop being Venus and become the person I am.”
David Bowie said, “I had enormous self-image problems and very low self-esteem, which I hid behind obsessive writing and performing. I was driven to get through life very quickly. I really felt so utterly inadequate. I thought the work was the only thing of value.”
Albert Einstein one of the most influential scientists once confided to a close friend, “The exaggerated esteem in which my lifework is held makes me very ill at ease. I feel compelled to think of myself as an involuntary swindler.”
From doubting their own talents to feeling not good enough, many famous stars have struggled with self-doubt at one point or another in their career and personal lives.
So let’s look at how we can tackle Imposter Syndrome.
Make a list of achievements
Make a list of all of your achievements. We are excellent at making to do lists, highlighting our own mistakes and weaknesses that we tend to neglect our strengths and accomplishments. So isn’t it about time that we directed energy towards ourselves and our good points.
Pay attention to the compliments
We are often our harshest critic and dismiss all the positive things that people around us say about us and our achievements and attributes. No one is forced to say nice things about others if they are saying it, it is because they mean it. When someone compliments you instead of downplaying it or ignoring it say thank-you and instead of dismissing it, own it!
Feel comfortable feeling uncomfortable
Feel comfortable feeling uncomfortable. Be okay with not knowing everything and realise that we are all constantly learning. Don’t take yourself too seriously. We are all in this game called life. Life can be unpredictable, and you won’t always feel ready for every challenge that arises. The key to success is to keep moving forward in spite of any fears that may get in your way. Remember, a comfort zone is a beautiful place, but nothing will ever grow there.
Talk to those around you.
Talk to a friend or family member about your feelings. Sharing your thoughts will help you overcome them and help you move forward. Sometimes an outside perspective is often all it takes to remind you of why you deserve to feel confident and know your worth.
Focus on positive thoughts
We roughly have 60,000 to 80,000 thoughts a day so try to listen to the positive ones and not focus or dwell on the negative. For many people, self-doubt will always be there; it’s just a matter of continuing to move forward in spite of it. Reward yourself when you’ve done great work, focus on the value you provide and maintain a consistent habit of mindfulness and reflection. Be kind to yourself.
About the author…
Sinéad Mangan is a life Coach with a theology and teaching degree as a backdrop to her guidance. She believes passionately in the coaching process, and now helps her clients unlock their potential and design the lifestyle they’ve always dreamt of, using powerful tools and techniques. Sinéad uses her experience as a qualified teacher and mindfulness instructor to enable her clients to identify and achieve their goals.