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Overcoming Imposter Syndrome: Tips for Snuffing Out Negative Self Talk

April 30, 2019
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Have you ever been given a promotion or an award, and felt like you didn’t deserve it? You probably had a case of imposter syndrome, a feeling that you’re a fraud and everyone will find you out.

Even some of the most successful people get this feeling so you’re not alone.

Although it’s not classified as a clinical disorder, imposter syndrome is a real psychological phenomenon. While it’s healthy to question your credentials every now and again, dwelling on your perceived lack of expertise or proficiency is damaging and limiting to your potential.

So when you feel the doubts creep in, it’s a good idea to have a few techniques up your sleeve to quash them firmly.

1. What is the truth?

When you’re feeling fearful of ‘being found out’ – i.e that you’re not qualified or that you’re not smart enough, then it helps to be logical. What is the truth of the situation?

  • Did you tell the truth on your application?
  • Did you achieve a lot to get where you are?
  • Do the people who promoted you know what they’re doing?

If you can answer ‘yes’ to these questions then the fear should start to dissipate. Often we think we need to be a genius or prodigy to get where we need to be. Like I tell my kids on a regular basis, “Practice doesn’t make perfect, practice makes better!” The truth is, there are plenty of people with average intelligence in powerful positions. The only difference between them and us is that they allowed themselves to be vulnerable, failed more often and welcomed the unpleasant process of trying and failing over and over again. Failure is a huge part of how we learn and the only way that we get better!

2. Develop new self-talk

Alanis Morissette’s song Tapes talks about how the mental messages in your head can ‘keep your vibe down’ and ‘wreak havoc’ on your self-esteem. This tape can be triggered by certain situations where we feel we aren’t good enough. If you let it run on autopilot it can send you spiraling into negativity.

But the good news is you can push the stop button at any time and record a new message of positivity.

It could be something like “you got this” or “you’re awesome at what you do”. You may be surprised at how uplifted and more confident you feel just from just telling yourself a simple phrase.

It’s not always easy to catch the negative thoughts. You have to train yourself to take immediate action when you feel the doubts start to surface.

3. Don’t take yourself too seriously

The fact that you’re questioning your own value suggests that you’re not an egomaniac, and unlikely to be seen as one. But it can feel like we will be judged as one, so we downplay our success as ‘luck’ or ‘good timing’.

The secret is to enjoy your accomplishments and not take yourself too seriously, or worry about what other people think. Chances are other people are happy for you.

As you can see, imposter syndrome is something that a lot of high-achieving people feel, even celebrities. So next time it occurs, embrace your imposter syndrome–in fact bring it in so close that it begins to suffocate! The more space that we give our doubts and negative self talk, the less space we have for the real work and things in our life that really matter.

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