How to Overcome Impostor Syndrome and Shift Your Mindset
Updated: Aug 23, 2018
We all suffer from self doubt from time to time, but do you ever think things like this: “If they REALLY knew me, they wouldn't love me.” or, “If they saw me the way I know I am, they wouldn't think I was so great.” or, “Someday these people are going to wake up and realize I'm not who they think I am.”
These are telltale signs you may have Impostor Syndrome, or the belief that you are going to be exposed as a fraud because you doubt your accomplishments. Impostor Syndrome was first studied in women who hold high positions, or are in a position of power. Since historically women were not supposed to be high ranking officials, they came to believe that gaining all the success they had was some sort of fluke, that they didn't actually belong.
Its important to take a moment to note that Impostor Syndrome is not a mental disorder, it's a mindset, but there is some evidence that it is more prevalent in people who have been diagnosed with another disorder such as anxiety or depression.
Symptoms of IS (impostor syndrome) include thoughts like those I listed above, as well as others such as, “I'm a fake.” “I just got lucky” “I must not fail” ad well as fear of having their work evaluated, fear of not continuing on with the same level of success, and fear of not living up to others' expectations. It can also include feelings of guilt, such as feeling guilty of the success you have achieved, and guilt for receiving praise and/or awards.
This is a real problem for many because it robs us of joy. We are unable to celebrate our success, and are therefore unable to feel pleasure or pride in our accomplishments. Being unable to celebrate ourselves removes our ability to inspire others and feel a connection with them. We are basically creating our own personal hell where we are unable to feel happiness, and if we do, we feel guilty.
This problem is heartbreaking, but its not a permanent situation unless you allow it to be. Overcoming this phenomenon is actually quite simple. (Simple, not easy!)
Stop comparing yourself to others.
When you release your thoughts and beliefs that you should be better (or worse) than someone else, it opens you up to the realization that you are only competing against yourself. The recognition and compensation you receive has nothing to to do with anyone else and has only to do with how well you are performing as compared to well you could be. If you're living up to your own potential others will take notice. This is why people make comments or reward you.
Give yourself permission to live your own life how you want to live it, not the way others tell you you should.
When you base your life off of what your parents want for you, or what your spouse thinks you should be doing, you could be left feeling like you're a fraud. If you're good at what they ask of you, you feel like you don't belong, you have no business being good at this because it is not what you want to be doing. How is it fair to be rewarded for something you don't even like? Well, I'm here to tell you, just because it may not be your cup of tea, doesn't mean you should not receive recognition, or that you don't deserve the success you've accomplished. You can take your success as a thank you for spending your energy on something useful even though you'd prefer to be doing something else.
Shift your perspective from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset.
When we believe that we either have a skill or don't, we are good at something, or not, it limits our ability to grow. The truth is that we can all learn. Even the most talented person on the planet will eventually reach her maximum potential if she believes she has no room for growth. The growth-minded person, however is capable of surpassing the talented person through hard work because they believe that they always have room for improvement. Even if they start out not as good as the talented person, once they reach the same level they are not maxed out. They have no max so they continue on. Shifting your perspective to a growth mindset allows your brain the opportunity to believe that you aren't being praised for your talent or your accomplishments, but for your ability to grow, learn and make progress.
Shift your perception of being in a “better” situation than friends or loved ones to one of a “different” situation.
We are all in different places in life. Some of us have lots of material things but feel lonely and unfulfilled, others have deep meaningful relationships with their friends and family, but don't have financial prosperity. Who is a bigger success? The person with joy and happiness, or the person with money? Keeping the idea that your situation is just DIFFERENT, not necessarily better or worse than others, allows you to be happy with what you have and no need to feel guilty. After all, isn't feeling good what we are all trying to achieve anyway? Who cares if money makes you happy and playing baseball makes your neighbor happy. We are all entitled to our own preferences, and there is more than enough to go around.
Use these feelings to achieve even more success. Use the power of intrinsic motivation to help others.
Transferring your internal motivation to a constructive project could be just what you need in order to feel fulfilled by your accomplishments rather than guilty. Reframing your feelings to those such as “I won't give up, I have too much pride to walk away” or, “If I can do this then I know I can help others do it too!” are powerful ways to turn your impostor feelings into actions that will help move the world forward.
For more personalized assistance on your particular situation email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to help you gain insight as to how you can shift your mindset and overcome feelings of being a fraud!
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