No More Self-Doubt: How to Beat Impostor Syndrome
“The more you know, the more you know you don’t know.” – Aristotle
Self-doubt is a silent menace; it creeps up on you, insidious in its quiet stealth. It doesn’t care if you’re male or female, young or old. It preys on almost everyone at some point in their lives. Quite often it manifests itself in the form of a psychological pattern called “impostor syndrome”. This thought pattern is especially devious; it makes you question yourself and your successes.
It writhes up within you and makes you question your very worth. You begin to believe that your achievements have been due to luck, charm or connections, and not due to your skills and experience. This self-doubt is compounded by fear; it’s only a matter of time before everyone finds out that you are an impostor and not worthy of your own success!
Impostor syndrome preys on approximately 70% of us, and those who have achieved success are especially vulnerable. Does that surprise you? Do you expect those to whom success has been granted, to be immune from its clutches? Actually, the opposite is true. Self-doubt and the feeling of being fraudulent, is more common in those who are viewed as “successful”. In fact, the more that you are viewed as achieving success, the more likely it is that you may feel it is all a sham. What are the effects of impostor syndrome, what are its triggers, how to beat impostor syndrome, and is there a way to use it to your advantage?
What are the effects of impostor syndrome?
Impostor syndrome is a specific form of self-doubt. Rather than owning your successes, you attribute your accomplishments to external factors such as luck, or “being in the right place, at the right time”. Although this thought pattern carries wisps of “humbleness”, impostor syndrome is much more malevolent.
In fact, this self-doubt can cause anxiety, depression and especially, low self-confidence. Someone within the grips of impostor syndrome is unable to “internalize and own their successes”. Although accomplished, these individuals will feel like a fraud; causing them to devalue their worth, their own experience, and their expertise.
What are the triggers?
Forewarned is forearmed; knowing what could trigger this negative thought pattern can reduce its power. For although the impostor syndrome is stealthy, knowing its origin can help you to prevent it.
- Impostor syndrome can be triggered by a promotion or a new challenge. Feeling uncomfortable in a new role, can be an indication that you are pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone. Although the end-result will be personal growth and development, in the interim, you might attribute your difficulties to the false ideology that you received the promotion due to external factors.
- A relatively new trigger is social media and its many opportunities for unrealistic comparisons. Many people spend an exorbitant amount of time scrolling through the highlight reels of friends, acquaintances and celebrities. This comparison can unfortunately trigger negative feelings of self-doubt and unworthiness.
How can you beat impostor syndrome?
Knowledge is power. Having brought this devious thought pattern out into the open, its ability to instil self-doubt can be beaten by utilizing any of these suggestions.
- Stop comparing yourself to others. To assist you in this endeavour, it is wise to limit your time on social media. Try to create a “scrolling” schedule for yourself; there are many apps that will set a timer for you, and lock the platform once you have reached your allotted time. You are unique, as is your journey; rejoice in your individuality and celebrate your many successes.
- Reframe your thoughts. Focus on the positive and shut down the negative self-doubt. If for example you are finding your new role at work difficult, acknowledge your feelings. Bringing them out into the open will allow you to see them as the frauds they are. Repeat positive affirmations such as, “I am awesome”, to counteract and reframe these negative thoughts.
- Keep a “success” journal. The dual benefit of writing down your accomplishments and re-reading them, will act as a reminder of just how successful you really are. You will have proof that you are as qualified as any one else, and are deserving of your triumphs.
- Visualize your success. Mentally attaining your goals ahead of time, will put you in the right mindset and prime your brain for success; there will simply be no room left for self-doubt. Visualizing yourself achieving specific goals, also makes them more attainable by helping you stay focused and productive.
- Get comfortable with feeling uncomfortable; realize that this feeling is a symptom of growth. Feeling comfortable simply means you are stagnant. Success occurs as a result of pushing through your feelings of unease and uncertainty.
- Find a support system. Talking about your feelings of self-doubt among friends and colleagues not only normalizes it, but provides opportunities for positive feedback.
- View yourself as a work-in-progress. “Learn to take your mistakes in stride, viewing them as a natural part of the process”.
How can you use it to your advantage?
Perhaps beating the impostor syndrome is just the beginning. After all, using it to your advantage can be the ultimate victory over self-doubt. So how exactly can this negative thought pattern help you?
- It can help you to become better at what you do. It can encourage you to dig in and work hard to push through your feelings of self-doubt. “Embrace your inner imposter so that you can waltz toward new challenges that, in the beginning felt beyond your abilities”.
- The impostor syndrome can signal to you that you are gaining experience. Keep in mind that successful people are particularly susceptible to this negative thought pattern. Achieving new skills can result not only in success, but unfortunately, in fleeting moments of self-doubt as well.
- Perhaps most importantly, impostor syndrome can help you to keep your ego in check. You will be reluctant to take your successes for granted, and will continue to work hard to grow and develop.
This negative thought pattern, although insidious in its quiet approach, is not unbeatable. Knowing the triggers can help to prevent it, and by utilizing specific methods, you can learn how to beat impostor syndrome.
Know your own worth and celebrate your successes!