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10 ways to overcome imposter syndrome

Posted by Shivali Anand

March 4, 2022    |     3-minute read (560 words)

Imposter syndrome, sometimes also referred to as imposter phenomenon, is a psychological pattern in which people believe they have achieved success by accident rather than through their abilities. Despite external evidence to the contrary, their erroneous belief system causes them to feel anxious that they will be discovered as undeserving.

According to a review article published in the International Journal of Behavioral Science, over 70% of people will experience impostor syndrome at some time in their lives. At the same time, a widely mentioned Twitter survey revealed that 87% of people had experienced imposter syndrome at least once. Psychological researchers say it is particularly pervasive among high-achieving individuals. 

Here are 10 ways to help you beat impostor syndrome:

1. Pay attention to your thoughts.

Take note of your negative thoughts and question whether they are rational. Start challenging the mistaken beliefs that the loop of negative thoughts, such as “I am a fraud” or “I only got here through luck.”

2. Visualize success.

Replace your pessimistic thoughts with positive ones where you see yourself as a winner. Visualize yourself successfully completing a task or presentation to get control of worst-case scenario thinking. 

3. Learn more.

After completing a project or meeting a goal, evaluate what you did well and what you would do differently next time. Contemplate the abilities, intellect and insights that helped you finish it. If you're new to a task, start by learning the necessary skills. If somehow you fail, use it as a learning opportunity and commit to doing better next time through more preparation.

4. Tally your achievements.

Make a list of what things you excel at and times when you’ve performed well, along with obstacles that you’ve overcome. The next time you feel self-doubt creep in, go over your list of accomplishment. The more wins you remember and celebrate, the more self-assured you will become. 

5. Vocalize your emotions.

Speaking to a mentor, trusted friend or therapist about your feelings of self-doubt can help you get a healthier perspective and make you feel less overwhelmed.

6. Make new connections.

Accept help from friends and co-workers rather than trying to do it all yourself. Hire or outsource to professionals that can help perform tasks at which you don’t excel or don’t have time to do well.

7. Stop comparing yourself.

No one is good at everything. Even if someone else appears to be performing a certain task or project faster, it's fine for you to take longer for the sake of learning or achieving something new. Comparing yourself to others puts the focus on the wrong person and wastes your precious energy.

8. Keep your expectations in check.

Focus on doing things moderately well rather than completing them flawlessly. Make sure your goals and expectations don't outstrip your ability to learn. You can't be perfect at everything all of the time, and it's natural to make errors or fail.

9. Learn to say no.

By saying no, you get time to say yes to the possibilities that correspond with your objectives. Learn to turn down offers outside your area of expertise so you can devote your time to projects at which you excel.

10. Think about assisting others.

Helping others learn skills you’ve mastered helps you too, by letting you more accurately assess your abilities and combatting feelings of self-doubt.

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