Sometimes out of the blue a feeling might hit you: who are you and what are you? Are you really what you are, are you in accord with your life and achievements – for it seems that it’s all dust in the wind, you are a fraud and soon your cover will be blown.
There may be years and years of evidence proving beyond doubt that we are ourselves with all our accomplishments, and yet a small voice inside insists that it’s all bunkum and we should be ashamed and it would be better if the earth opened up and swallowed us. This feeling is known as impostor syndrome. How to deal with it?
Confess to it
Such a welter of feeling is extremely shameful, so naturally, people tend to keep mum about it. Yet consider acknowledging it and recognize that you share it with many others: it lets loose a tight spring inside.
Distinguish facts from feelings
Even if most times you are immune from the impostor syndrome, it is apt to pounce upon you at any moment. It is worth your while to be aware of it and have a ready response when it strikes. The main weapon is to know very well when this sorry sensation is utterly meaningless.
Juxtapose facts against feelings and figure out just what is true about these feelings and where they prove to be elusive when considered closely.
Discern situations when you could feel a misfit
The feeling of confidence is born of belonging. In a group or company, as you observe that you are noticeably younger or older than the rest – well, you would be feeling an odd person out, and it might be even stronger like you are out of your league.
It may be a bit more pronounced like you are standing out as the only woman, a disabled person, or a colored person who gained a signal achievement in a particular sphere and then feels like a representative of their social group – and that is fairly responsible!
This would be a normal doubtful feeling which shouldn’t be construed as definite proof of your ineptitude. On the contrary, you could be proving the dominance of competency over stereotypical thinking.
Learn to be positive about yourself
Being positive provides a clue for a supreme balance: on the one hand, there is a perfectionist attitude that shows an orientation to quality performance; on the other hand, you learn to leave behind the mistakes that you were unable to avoid and don’t expect marvels when doing routine work.
Keep track of your attainments
You may need to save the reminders of just how appreciated you are to look at when you are feeling low. Having received a thank-you email telling you how great your project is, save the feedback in a folder containing your success stories.
Having received a best-mom card from your kid or a picture he or she drew of you, hang it up for all to see – and look at it when you believe that your life is exceptionally futile.
Cut all comparison
Comparing your attainments against other people’s is an unprofitable job, and what’s more, it can be too engrossing. The more so if you chose to follow someone’s online-registered successes. You can easily be involved in an endless losing battle.
Learn to take mistakes and failures with good grace
Of course, you can thrash yourself for failing, but it won’t really get you anywhere. Cut your losses. The sportive attitude would suit you better: brace yourself that next time will be yours!
Rectify your inner rules
As you waded through life you may have collected a set of rules which are rather strict, enjoining you to always come up with an answer or telling you that asking for aid is a weakness. Explain to yourself that you have the right to be ignorant in some cases, allow for mistakes or accept help from specialists.
Think up a scenario that will suit you
You are certain to have a scenario that plays itself out whenever the impostor syndrome descends upon you. Hear out what your script prompts you. When it runs like “They will be soon at you for you are bungling everything there is to bungle,” exchange these lines for something like “I am sure to find my bearings soon and they realize that at the start people can be a little befuddled. No reason to be flappable about it.”
So if you feel like everyone around you is a wizard and the first thought is that you aren’t up to the mark – start thinking along the lines that you can pick up some really useful stuff from experts and get better.
Picture your success in your mind’s eye
It is a very professional practice. Well before the event people sit down, concentrate and draw a mental picture of your success: how confidently you deliver your presentation or report, conduct a discussion. This practice will dispel fears, diminish performance-related stress and give you a new idea of your abilities.
Think of rewards for yourself
People who think of themselves in terms of how others perceive and appreciate them rarely come around to rewarding themselves. Make a habit of celebrating your victories and praising yourself.
Begin trying without looking back
Think about how often we have to face new situations and new skills! It looks easiest to flee telling yourself and everyone around that you are simply not equipped for this sort of stuff. But the same rule applies: nobody expects you to excel right at the start. You can’t feel self-confident about what you have never done; brace yourself, start doing it and gain courage along the line. The first thing to do is to get engaged and then you can make decisions about how well you can acquit yourself.
Consult a specialist
A therapist working with the impostor syndrome understands how you feel, knows how the condition develops, and can help you reinvent your behaviors so as to get around it. The syndrome appeals to your ineptitude and therefore shuns any activity. It is sticking in the belief that a particular task is above your head that actually cripples you. Get busy and take steps towards your goal.