Personal,  Self-Improvement

How to get rid of Imposter Syndrome

So, what exactly is Imposter Syndrome? Have you ever had that feeling of being inadequate in a professional or even personal setting? Such as a time when you know you have vast knowledge in a subject area, but keep the experience to yourself, because you think ‘who am I to say this’. That’s Imposter Syndrome. This article aims to take you through some steps to get rid of Imposter Syndrome.

It’s an extreme feeling of self-doubt despite your successes. Even if you have accomplishments or proof of success, you still feel like a fraud, and that can be difficult but not impossible to overcome.

One simple and straightforward way to tackle Imposter Syndrome is to incorporate positive affirmations into your routine; you can read more about this here.

You might be wondering why a picture of a fake Elvis is at the top of the page. Well, doesn’t that sum it up entirely? He’s not the real Elvis Presley, but does that mean he isn’t as good, or he won’t go on to accomplish what the real Elvis has? No matter how likely that may be, there’s nothing to say he won’t.

How has Imposter Syndrome affected me?

One of the reasons I feel I haven’t been as successful professionally as I would have liked is my feeling of inadequacy.

This is particularly prevalent in leadership roles. I haven’t gained great success and haven’t managed to get into a leadership role. Is it because of my lack of knowledge or experience? No, it’s because of my self-doubt and my feeling of ‘I’m not good enough’. Without sounding egotistical, I know I am capable, and I know in my heart of hearts that I would make an excellent leader, but that doesn’t stop me from feeling inadequate.

Of course, there are other issues apart from my feeling of self-doubt, such as my overall confidence and self-esteem. Once I have more control over those feelings, all the building blocks will fall into place.

Imposter Syndrome comes hand-in-hand with other insecurities, such as a lack of confidence, and honestly, that’s perfectly normal.

I am not claiming to be an expert, but if you feel or have ever felt like my explanation above, then you know what it’s like to feel inferior. It’s not pleasant, and I can only wish I had something like this to read in my past that would’ve helped me along the way.

How do I overcome feeling like an imposter?

At this stage, you may be thinking that you do have some self-doubt, but you may not be sure whether it’s more than that. Therefore, it’s important to distinguish between just the general feeling of self-doubt and Imposter Syndrome. Do any of these apply to you? If so, you are likely to have Imposter Syndrome:

  • Continuously compare yourself to others
  • Dwell on the past
  • You speak negatively about yourself
  • You don’t trust your instincts or ability
  • Feelings of anxiety
  • Intense lack of self-confidence
  • You are afraid of what the future may hold
  • You feel like a fraud
  • Downplay achievements or accomplishments

Personally, I tick every single thing on that list, but whether you do or you don’t, there are some straightforward steps you can take to try and kick your Imposter Syndrome to the curb.

Step 1:

Success is subjective. Just because you feel you may not be successful doesn’t mean you aren’t. External thoughts and perceptions often fuel Imposter Syndrome. You may think you are unsuccessful, but others may think you are far more successful than them and may feel inferior to you. You won’t let yourself believe you are successful, as you think you are perceived not to be.

I apologise for continually banging the same drum; however, a step to overcome feelings like this is to affirm oneself, and this post will help you do that. Remember that your idea of success is different from someone else’s. We can’t read minds; we don’t know what others feel about our achievements or accomplishments. So, another step is to think positively. Every person has their own unique set of insecurities; if we didn’t, we wouldn’t be human.

The Bottom Line:

Step 2:

Step 2 is to OWN IT! Don’t downplay your accomplishments. It’s okay to be proud of what you’ve achieved. You might think it’s not impressive or not relevant. Any accomplishment is noteworthy. Anything that makes you proud is worth shouting from the rooftops.

I hear people say things like, ‘oh I only got 80% on this test, and I could have done better. Yes, of course, you could have done better, but 80% of something is better than 20% of nothing.

Why should you feel inferior for getting a lower score than someone else on your team or in your class? Why should you think ‘because you could have done better’ means you can’t say you’ve done well or ‘I’ve achieved this’? The answer is simple: nothing is stopping you from sharing your achievement other than you. Don’t keep it to yourself; it doesn’t matter if someone has done better than you; you’ve done well, too, and it’s okay to be proud of that.

If you look at it from a different perspective and say you’ve scored 30% on a test, yes, this may not be the result you’re looking for. However, you have much more room to grow and get things right. Taking a second chance on something doesn’t mean you’re a failure because you didn’t pass the test the first time around.

Personal Example

It took me three tries to pass my driving test. After tests one and two, I got deflated and blamed everyone else but me. On my third test, I said to myself, ‘Yes, I can do this. ‘I am confident. I firmly believe that a positive mindset helped me pass my driving test with minimal fault on that occasion. Do you know what? I felt great! I shouted it from the rooftops, and I owned my accomplishment.

The Bottom Line:

Step 3:

Suppose you have negative people around you who are detracting from your successes or achievements, dragging you down, or making you feel inferior. Then, take steps to tackle it.

If you can cut those people out of your life or lessen your involvement with them, then it’s worthwhile doing so. I’m not suggesting taking extreme measures, but at the very least, try to set healthy boundaries. I don’t mean sit them down and reel off a list of your demands, but challenge them. I know this will take great confidence; it doesn’t have to be a fistfight, but a simple ‘I disagree with that’ or ‘Here’s how I think we can make that better’.

By standing up for yourself and showing those people that you aren’t scared to speak your mind, you will likely gain a lot of respect in doing so. You may even find that they stop making you feel inferior and start proactively asking for your input.

The Bottom Line:

Step 4:

Be compassionate to yourself. I know that this is easier said than done. It’s perfectly normal to have feelings of self-doubt. It’s also perfectly normal to feel lost or hopeless sometimes, but it doesn’t mean you are beyond help.

You can’t change the past, so don’t dwell on it. If you think ‘If only I could have done this’ or ‘If only I could have done that’. Then, have an internal conversation with yourself. Your reply should be, ‘So what?’, ‘Yes, I may not have this, that or the other, but instead, I’ve got X, Y and Z’.

Focus on the now and what you can achieve or what you could be rather than what you could have achieved and what you’re not. You cannot change the past; you can only work towards shaping your future. Don’t let the past define you because it’s likely that the past won’t stop you from getting to where you want to be.

Of course, there are some exceptions to the rule. If you’re a fraudster trying to get a job at a bank, you may be out of luck. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t be equally as good at something else.

Try to replace any negative thoughts about yourself with positive thoughts. Don’t be afraid of what the future may hold. Live in the now and put the building blocks in place to secure your best future. One of the best ways to do this is by learning or doing something new. Apply for that promotion at work or start that online training course.

The Bottom Line:

Step 5:

Stop comparing yourself to others. We do this all of the time. It could be as simple as ordering a meal at a restaurant, seeing someone else get their food, and you think ‘theirs looks so much better than mine’. So what if that’s the case? Does it mean your food will taste unpleasant because it looks less appealing than someone else’s? No, of course not. So why should you take this approach in any aspect of your life?

‘Sally has just bought a new Mercedes; I only own a smart car. I wish I could have a Mercedes’. So what if you only own a smart car? Does that mean you will have a smart car for the rest of your life? No, of course, it doesn’t. If you want to achieve something like buying a new vehicle or securing a new job, then only you can guarantee that future for yourself.

Comparing yourself to others will only put you in a ‘can’t do’ or a ‘won’t do’ mindset, and you need to shake out of that mindset in order to achieve your goals.

Instead of saying, ‘I don’t own a Mercedes’, say to yourself, ‘What if I owned a Mercedes?’. Then ask yourself, ‘How will I get to the stage where I own a Mercedes?’. If you give yourself clear aims and visualise your goals and future success, it’s much more likely to happen.

If you go to bed at night with negative thoughts, you wake up with those same thoughts. However, if you go to bed at night with positive thoughts, you wake up with those same positive thoughts.

The Bottom Line:

Final thoughts

I hope that you’ve found this article insightful in some way. I really hope there’s something you can take away from it that will improve your thinking. To a certain degree.

Personally, I see myself as an underdog; I continuously feel underestimated and undervalued, but every so often, I shock people when I come out of my shell because they can see how kick-ass I can be. I know I have it within me to become the best version of myself.

You have the best version of yourself within you, too. Don’t let self-doubt rule your ability; you are not a fraud.

It’s okay to ask for help, too, whether that be personal or professional advice. We all need help with our emotions from time to time, and as cheesy and cliche as this sounds, it is okay not to be okay. Someone is always available to help. Be kind to yourself and others around you.

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My name is Dylan and I like anything tech-related, ironically I work in tech as an Integration Specialist. I recently graduated with a First Class Honours degree from the University of Sunderland. You can usually find me reading a book, playing a game or endlessley scrolling TikTok :D

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