3 ways to Tackle Imposter Syndrome

With a few exercises, you can tackle imposter syndrome, realign your self-image, and perceive yourself as the successful and deserving person you truly are.

Do you ever get the impression that you didn't deserve the accomplishments or successes you've had, and that it was all luck or fortunate timing? This is known as impostor syndrome. The good news is that imposter syndrome is far more frequent than you might believe — practically everyone has experienced it at some point. 

The first time I experienced imposter syndrome was when I was in graduate school. I was suddenly surrounded by incredibly intelligent individuals. I felt that I wasn’t good enough for the program and that I had landed there by sheer accident. Prior to this, I used to be very comfortable piecing together ideas, arguments, and lines of evidence, but I found myself questioning my thinking and speaking up less. That’s no way to live. Here are several techniques that I’ve discovered to be effective in combating imposter syndrome. 

  1. Review What You’ve Accomplished Recently. When you’re stuck in an imposter syndrome cycle, negative thoughts can overpower positive ones. Grab a pen and paper (or a blank computer document) and make a list of your recent accomplishments and successes.  Don’t only concentrate on big accomplishments. List anything, such as giving helpful advice to a colleague, successfully contributing to a collaboration, finishing a long-term task, proposing a good idea in a meeting, etc. We have a tendency to ignore the minor daily accomplishments that add to our overall performance, so focusing on them can help us recognize how our abilities contribute to our collective success.

  2. Mentor others. Mentoring others is a simple way to measure how far you've come and how much information you've gained. Until I started coaching students, I recall feeling like I didn't know anything and was making no progress in graduate school. Suddenly, I realized that I had been amassing many iotas of information and wisdom that I had taken for granted but that was genuinely valuable to others through mentoring. Mentoring can assist you in aligning your self-image with reality, which is that you are a fantastic, accomplished person!

  3. Talk to someone. Even if one of the side effects of imposter syndrome is believing that you are the only one who is the imposter, talking to others can reveal how ubiquitous a phenomenon it is. In fact, after a few candid conversations with good friends, you may discover that almost everyone has felt like an imposter at some point in their lives and that many of us feel like we are “faking it to make it” every day.  Talking with a trustworthy friend about your feelings might also reveal whether there is a specific thing, person, or situation contributing to your feelings of inadequacy. 

To summarize, everyone experiences imposter syndrome, so you’re not alone!  With a few exercises, you can realign your self-image and perceive yourself as the successful and deserving person you truly are. 

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