Imposter syndrome and self-doubt can be crippling. They can make you feel like you’re not good enough, that you don’t belong, or that you’ll soon be found out you’re a fraud. If you’re struggling with imposter syndrome or self-doubt, know that you’re not alone. Here are some tips for overcoming imposter syndrome and self-doubt.

What is imposter syndrome?

First described by psychologists Suzanne Imes and Pauline Rose Clance in the 1970s, imposter syndrome is a form of self-doubt. It is disproportionately affects women and high achievers, who often attribute their accomplishments to luck or timing rather than to ability. People with imposter syndrome worry that soon enough, people will discover the truth about them – that they not as competent or intelligent as others might think and they are in fact a fraud. Most people with impostor feelings suffer in silence, making it difficult to reach out even and ask for help.

How does it develop?

Feeling like an impostor is not uncommon and for many it can be traced back to growing up in families where achievement was over-valued. Research also shows that the experience is more common in minority groups, and feeling different to one’s peers can increase one’s feeling of being a fraud. Returning to work when you’re a mum or starting a job in a male dominated industry for instance, where your interests or values are very different from your colleagues, can feel incredibly isolating and fuel feelings of inadequacy.

If you’re feeling like an impostor, take comfort in knowing there are others who feel the same way as you do and often times, talking about it helps!

The impact of imposter syndrome and self-doubt on your life

Imposter syndrome and self-doubt can have a powerful impact on our lives, leaving us feeling drained, anxious, and unfulfilled. It can easily stifle our growth, stop us from accepting new opportunities, and make us feel like we’ll never be good enough, no matter how hard we try.

Ways to overcome imposter syndrome and self-doubt

It is important to remember that imposter feelings are normal, especially when trying something new or stepping out of one’s comfort zone. However, if self-doubt feels overly consuming, or if it is stopping you from taking on new opportunities, it can be a good sign to start working on your imposter syndrome. The good news is that there are concrete steps you can take to increased your confidence.

1) Recognise that your thoughts are not always an accurate reflection of the truth. Trying to notice your negative or self-critical thinking and then work on changing how you talk to yourself – perhaps starting by asking how you would speak to a friend or colleague. This can help you make important gains in confidence and motivation.

2) Stop focusing on perfection. Repeat after me, “no one is perfect and mistakes are normal”.  When we remove the pressure on ourselves to complete every task flawlessly, we free ourselves up to learn and grow.

3) One of the most effective methods is to focus on your achievements rather than your shortcomings. Make a list of all the accomplishments that you are proud of and keep it with you as a reminder.

4) Finally, recognise any feelings of anxiety or insecurity that may trigger self-doubt, and then use calming techniques such as deep breathing or mindfulness meditation to help bring them back into balance.

With these tools and a little perseverance, feeling less overwhelmed and more sure of yourself can be within reach!

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