I read an article about Imposter Syndrome recently, and almost every word struck home. It could have been talking about me. I am constantly dogged by the idea that I’m not good enough especially at work where I think any success I have is just down to luck, and am always looking over my shoulder thinking someone better will come along. I work in an advertising agency, which is a very competitive environment. I get on well with my team and my boss, but I’m always half expecting her to say she’s seen through me, and I’m crap at my job. They have promoted me and put a lot of trust in me recently, but I still can’t shake off this feeling that I’ll be exposed as a fraud and publicly shamed. Frances, 42, Lewisham
I think it’s a lucky stroke that you read that article because the most important step in overcoming these powerful feelings of being an imposter is to bring them to awareness and acknowledge them. The next step is to start putting these thoughts into perspective.
Step one is to realise that you are not alone in this. According to the International Journal of Behavioral Science, 70% of people experience imposter feelings at some point in their lives. Step two is to reframe your thoughts. I have clients with imposter syndrome and clients without it and there is no difference between them at all. People without Imposter syndrome are no more intelligent, capable or competent than the rest of us. The only difference is that they respond to life’s challenges without self-doubt. And this is good news because it means that “all” you have to do is learn how to think like a non-imposter.
Don’t worry I know that the little word “all” stands out in a very big way in that sentence. But once you’ve identified the extent to which you self-doubt and self-attack you can: train yourself to ask for help when you need it, learn to value constructive criticism, and remember that the more you practice a skill the better you will be at it. This can all help you to begin the process of building a sense of self worth and a sense of merit and belonging in your life. Good luck!