How To Overcome Imposter Syndrome?

With my personal experience

9/5/20234 min read

woman covering her face with blanket
woman covering her face with blanket

Have you ever experienced a fear that you’re not capable of handling your current position? It can be in any area, whether it’s work, business, studies, etc.

For instance, people who have recently been promoted to higher positions often think, ‘I guess I’m not suitable for this role; soon, management is going to figure out that my promotion was a mistake.’

If you’re in a similar situation or have struggled in the past, don’t worry, you’re not alone. This is commonly known as ‘Imposter Syndrome,’ and even great leaders have faced this situation. Let’s dive deeper and understand how to overcome it.

Where did it start?

In a 1978 study on high-achieving women, psychologists Pauline Rose Clance and Suzanne Imes developed the concept, originally termed as the ‘imposter phenomenon.’

People often experience imposter syndrome when they decide to take on new roles or responsibilities, and it can result in feelings of self-doubt, anxiety, and guilt.

This phenomenon is not limited to a particular gender; it is a universal phenomenon, and 1/3 of young people already suffer from it.

Personal Experience

In my previous job, I experienced imposter syndrome without even being aware of it. This happened when I was promoted to a higher position, and the role was completely new to me.

Within two days, I started feeling that I was not suitable for this role and felt a great deal of stress. After a week, I met with my manager and shared that I didn’t want to take on this new role. However, my manager advised me to stay and explained that staying in my comfort zone would sabotage my growth.

Initially, I didn’t take this advice, but with persistence, he suggested that I stay in the role for a while until he found a replacement. After this meeting, I started feeling better.

Knowing that I would only be in the role for a few more days gave me a new perspective, and after a week, I slowly started feeling more comfortable. After a month, my manager gave me a second chance, and this time, I didn’t say ‘No.’

In another instance, I encountered imposter syndrome when I made the decision to start my own blog and began planning to write book summaries. However, after buying hosting and everything, I started feeling like I was wasting my time. There are countless blogs out there that have already covered almost all the famous books. Who am I to write about them?

This time, I didn’t decide to quit. Drawing from my previous job experience, I knew I could pull it off. The imposter syndrome started to fade away after I received some positive comments from random people.

Strategies to Overcome Imposter Syndrome

1. Give Yourself Some Time.

In my experience, spending one and a half months in the role changed my perspective. So don’t jump directly into conclusions; give yourself some time to adjust to your new role.

This period can be challenging, and everything may seem new to you. One common mistake people make during this time is avoiding asking simple questions because they worry it might make them look foolish.

Remember that no one is judging you based on your questions, so don’t hesitate to ask them right away. Keep in mind that newcomers often disrupt industries more than experts do.

2. Be your own cheer leader

When you feel overwhelmed with your work, you may not notice the small things or acknowledge the good things you have accomplished.

Overworking is common in the workplace, especially when people are trying to learn and establish themselves in a new role. At times, you may feel incapable of completing tasks within the specified time, leading you to stretch yourself and work long hours.

However, this is not a good sign. First and foremost, you need to ask yourself whether the work can realistically be completed within the given timeframe. Self-compassion is key because it’s easy to believe that you’re not capable, but the reality may be different.

Exercise 1: Track Your Daily Tasks

• Take a notebook or use a spreadsheet to list down all your daily tasks.

• On a daily basis, after completing each task, record both the starting and ending time of the tasks.

• At the end of the day or week, review the list and identify areas where you may need improvement.

• Remember that most of the time, you have done a fairly good job, so take some time to give credit to yourself.

Exercise 2:

· Write five of your good qualities?

Take some time to reflect on your qualities. For instance, you could write down qualities such as creativity, problem-solving skills, adaptability, positive attitude and so on.

· Write five reasons for why you deserve this position?

Consider why you believe you deserve this new role. For instance, you could write about successful projects you have completed, positive feedback from colleagues or clients, recognition from management, and other relevant reasons.

3. Challenge your Thoughts

Negative self-talk often becomes common, and your inner voice may tell you to ‘quit’ or that you ‘don’t belong here.’ The best way to counteract this is to address the negative thoughts and remember your accomplishments. It’s important to remind yourself that you have earned your accomplishments through your talent, not just luck.

Exercise 1:

How can you address it? Think of your negative thoughts as coming from a different person who acts as your inner critic. Whenever these thoughts arise, respond to them with positive thoughts and acknowledge the efforts you have made to reach where you are.

Exercise 2:

Just say no. It may sound simple, but it works. When you find yourself trapped in negative thoughts, interrupt them by saying ‘No,’ ‘Stop,’ ‘No, thanks,’ or ‘Not today’.

The first step to overcoming any problem is accepting that you have a problem. It is important to acknowledge that you are experiencing a common issue. After that, the exercises mentioned above can help you deal with it.

If you have the opportunity, seek support from mentors and colleagues because learning from their experiences is always helpful.

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