So you feel like an imposter? A fraud. Everything that you’ve ever achieved is down to dumb luck. You’ve blagged your way to where you are. How come nobody else has noticed except you? You’ve conned them all and now you’ll be found out. Sound familiar? If you’re suffering from imposter syndrome you’re in good company. Research suggests 70% of us will experience the phenomena at some stage in our lives. Let’s take a look at imposter syndrome and how to silence it.
Imposter Syndrome – it’s not just you
Look around you, is it really true that everyone else is smarter than you? Perhaps they’re shiftily looking sideways in your direction and wondering the exact same thing? But how to get rid of that constant fear that you’re so fake? With all the pressures facing the health service at the moment life is tough. One thing that you don’t need adding to your stress is that little voice criticising you for not being good enough. Here’s how to silence that pesky negative narrative.
Do you have Imposter Syndrome?
Popularised by Dr Pauline Clance in the 1970s, imposter syndrome remains alive and kicking today, fuelled by the use of social media and constant connectivity.
Experiencing something of a renaissance, you’ll recognise it by the feelings;
- At that pivotal moment – you’ll be found out
- You don’t deserve your success
- Your achievements are down to serendipity or even worse pure fluke
- At some point someone will notice
- You feel bad for conning others
- It’s hard to take a compliment because you don’t really deserve it
- You constantly feel that others are smarter than you
- You punish yourself with perfectionism
- You’re working late to make sure everything is ‘just right’
- If you manage others you feel that you need to micro manage them just to ‘be sure’
- You avoid anything that you suspect you won’t be able to do
- You’re convinced you’re the only one
- You feel more than just a little exhausted keeping up the pretence
Now you know you’re not the only person on the planet who feels this way you can relax. But how can you start to overcome it? Here are some self resilience coaching tips to silence that inner critic.
Five Steps To Kick Imposter Syndrome To The Kerb
Self Acceptance: Imposter syndrome is part of being a human being. In fact, it’s prevalent amongst high achievers rather than perpetual slackers so recognise that your self assessment could well be skewed. Let go of perfectionism and acknowledge that you’re doing your best. Constant striving will just heap the pressure on and you can use your time more effectively than that.
Stop Comparing Yourself: If we ever stopped to have an honest conversation with others about how we really feel there would be a veritable avalanche of astonishment. If 1 in 7 of us has experienced imposter syndrome you do the math! That person who you are comparing yourself to is probably wondering why they’re not as smart as someone else. This is how we are as humans. When we constantly compare ourselves to others (upwards or downwards) it damages us. So much so that Iyanla Vanzant describes it as “An act of violence against the self.” We think she’s right.
It’s ok to be scared: You’re scared. That’s a normal reaction in the current situation. Whatever you are feeling – feel it. It’s ok. You can harness that energy and do something creative with it rather than feeling overwhelmed. Recognise that everyone experiences a learning curve when they try something new and you’re no different. As human beings we learn by failing, it’s what we do with that failure that matters. Develop a growth mindset (check out our growth mindset podcasts and blogs) and utilise new learning information the next time you try something new.
Acknowledge your successes. However small. Even it’s turning up every day. It’s an achievement. That’s right, your achievements didn’t just happen by themselves. Recognise that you showed up, you stretched yourself and you definitely did something right. Keep a box or file of successes (certificates, wins, momentos, thank yous, compliments or good things that people have said about you, photos etc) to remind yourself of how hard you’ve worked and what you’ve contributed to your successes. When imposter syndrome strikes, tell it to get back in it’s box by getting out yours.
Put Yourself Out There: Instead of avoiding challenges where you fear failing, launch yourself into them. Known as ‘flooding’ in psychology circles it will enable you to shake off the need for perfectionism. The more you attack your fear of failure head on the less you will be concerned with looking foolish. Say ‘Yes’ to new challenges and treat them as research. Each time you approach a new goal you’ll find out what works and more importantly what doesn’t, leaving you better equipped for the next time.
There’s only one you: That’s right, we’re with Chesney Hawkes on this one. You really are the ‘One and only you.’ Whilst you’re holding yourself back and allowing imposter syndrome to take the wheel, the world is missing out on the unique talent that is you. Once you kick imposter syndrome to the kerb and learn how to overcome it, who knows what you’ll achieve? You’re not an imposter. You really are awesome. You’re doing an incredible job under unprecedented pressure.
The Resilient Doctor provides online resilience courses for doctors and healthcare professionals along with resilience coaching for doctors. During the Coronavirus pandemic everything that we do is free to healthcare professionals and allied services. A huge thank you from us for everything that you are doing.