Have you ever felt like a fraud? Do you ever tell yourself that your accomplishments are a result of dumb luck or good timing? If you answered “yes” to either question, you may be experiencing Imposter Syndrome.
Imposter Syndrome is a psychological phenomenon in which high-achieving individuals are unable to accept their own accomplishments. They suffer from self-doubt and a persistent fear of being exposed as a “fraud.” Want to know a dirty little secret of highly successful people? Many of them have experienced Imposter Syndrome at one point in their careers. Take Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, for example. In her 2013 autobiography, Lean In, she said, “Every time I was called on in class, I was sure that I was about to embarrass myself. Every time I took a test, I was sure that it had gone badly. And every time I didn’t embarrass myself—or even excelled—I believed that I had fooled everyone yet again. One day soon, the jig would be up…”
Fortunately, there are several ways to combat Imposter Syndrome and boost your self-confidence. Here are a few helpful tips:
Remind yourself of your achievements.
Take a moment to reflect on the hard work you’ve done to get to the spot you’re in now. It may even help to write down your personal achievements or create a folder in your inbox of positive emails you’ve received from your college professors, mentors, managers, and colleagues. Reflecting on messages of praise and embracing positive feedback can go a long way and help boost your confidence.
Don’t be afraid to seek support.
Everyone needs help occasionally and that is okay. If you need help, ask for it. Find a friend, co-worker, or mentor who can help boost you up when you’re feeling down. It’s better to discuss your feelings openly rather than harboring negative thoughts alone. Chances are your support person will relate to how you are feeling and will help you realize that many of us have similar doubts.
Focus on your strengths.
Continually consider where you can add value. Can you suggest a new idea? Make a process more streamlined? Complete an assignment early? Going the extra mile will not only help you demonstrate your work ethic but may also earn you positive feedback, which, in turn, can help you feel good about all you have accomplished.
When you are starting a new job, it’s crucial to seek out answers from others. Not knowing everything can make you feel insecure and lead to a lack of confidence. But no matter what stage you are in your career, you’re never going to have all the answers. Asking questions shows initiative and can help you get the information you need to be successful.
Imposter Syndrome can lead to self-sabotage, so it’s important to recognize the symptoms early on and work through those feeling as much as possible. While these strategies are not foolproof, they can help you recognize your own self-worth and help you to seek the support you need to remain confident and embrace success.
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