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How to Overcome Impostor Syndrome


Impostor syndrome is a common phenomenon, but that doesn’t make it any easier to live with. The humble among us stare into the face of this monster when starting out in a new career or a new job. Others find themselves still stuck in a state of self-doubt years after experiencing real success – wondering how they got here and when others are going to realize that they don’t know what they’re doing. The fear and anxiety can be uncomfortable to manage, and hold you back personally and professionally. So, instead of wallowing in your imagined fakery, work on overcoming it with these tips.


(Photo Credit: DaPuglet/Flickr)

1. Forgive yourself, and know that it’s normal.

Do You Know What You're Worth?

Impostor syndrome is actually a fairly normal response to achievement. In fact, researchers feel that up to 70 percent of people have suffered from it and some point in their lives. Just knowing that feeling this way is normal could help you overcome it. If someone you look up to feels this way also, maybe you’re just as wrong as they are. So, forgive yourself and know that you’re not alone.

Kate Winslet, Academy Award winning actress confides, “I’d wake up in the morning before going off to a shoot, and think, I can’t do this; I’m a fraud.” Don Cheadle feels similarly: “All I can see is everything I’m doing wrong that is a sham and a fraud.”

2. Let go of perfectionism.

Find yourself thinking, “I’m not good enough”? Perfectionism is often the culprit. No one is perfect. Everyone struggles, everyone makes mistakes, and everyone feels like their floundering sometimes. Having complete and total control over what you do and how you do it is an impossible dream to realize. Surrender it now and you’ll feel much happier.

3. Shift your attention away from yourself until you can be positive.

Positive thinking is harder to achieve than it sounds. Our minds work against us sometimes, and it can be difficult to harness our thoughts for good not evil. When those voices of self-doubt creep in, they can be tough to silence. Try distracting yourself from them instead of attempting to reason them away.

Do something to help someone else. Tackle a challenge that’s bothering you. Take your mind off of yourself until you can be more positive. Eventually, turning away from your self-doubt will become a habit, and you’ll start to let go of your feelings of self-doubt.

4. Pretend you’re someone else.

Sometimes it’s helpful to look at an issue from the outside in order to gain some perspective. We might ask ourselves: What advice would I give someone else in this situation? in order to solve a problem. We can do something similar when it comes to combating impostor syndrome. Take a look at your resume as if it belonged to a stranger. Do you think this person is qualified for the job? Look at your body of work and ask yourself how you’d perceive it, if it belonged to a friend. Gaining a little distance and perspective could force you to look at yourself a bit more objectively. You’ll likely notice you’re being a bit too hard on yourself.

Tell Us What You Think

Do you suffer from impostor syndrome? What do you do to try and overcome it? We want to hear from you! Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter.

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