4 Tips for Overcoming Imposter Syndrome
Words by Caitriona Potter

Imposter syndrome refers to the sense of self-doubt or unworthiness of one’s hard-earned success. It typically affects those with perfectionistic or over-achieving tendencies, but it can affect anyone at different stages in life. You may experience this phenomenon when offered a new, higher paying role, when recognised and praised for your success or when your new business kicks off. Typical characteristics include: low self-esteem, over-working and burnout, basing your self-worth off your achievements and self-sabotage. With a few changes to the way we speak to ourselves, reflecting on past accomplishments and feedback, and simply letting go of negative thoughts, we can begin to be our own biggest supporters instead of critics. Here are 4 tips to help you turn imposter syndrome into confidence.

Recognise where and when you first learned to negate your accomplishments. 

Perhaps you had a critical teacher, unsupportive parents, or an over-bearing boss. Our brain likes to form coping mechanisms to keep us safe. If you can figure out when you first felt unappreciated or criticised for your accomplishments, you will most likely see a similar pattern repeated over years. This is an ingrained habit, which will take time to unlearn but it is possible and can pave the way for transformative change in your self-worth. 

Look for evidence of your success (or failure).

If you feel like you don’t work hard enough in the day, take a look at all the work you have completed in the last month. If it is less than you had planned, accept this and prioritise better time-management in the next month. If it is more than you had planned, then you are likely being hard on yourself for reasons not based in fact. Whether or not you have achieved ‘enough’, this is a good exercise to ground yourself in reality and move forward with clarity in a way which will support your future goals and ambitions. 

Reframe your thoughts.

Thoughts have power whether they are negative or positive. Monitor your thoughts and become aware of your inner voice. Do you speak to yourself with encouragement and support, or are you overly harsh and critical? Instead of berating yourself for a mistake, try switching your thoughts to something of encouragement, such as, “that wasn’t my best work, but I will do better next time”. Over time this will rewire your brain to be more supportive and encouraging. 

Look at the facts.

Reflect on everything you have learned and grown from to get to this point. Our inner critic tends to remind us of all our shortcomings and mistakes, whilst ignoring our continuous hard work and perseverance. This is called cognitive distortion. To override this pattern, bring to your awareness all the jobs you have learned from, courses you took, projects you committed to, etc. You will begin to see clearly that you are flourishing due to your sustained commitment to your own success, not by some lucky encounter or flaw of the system.