“Can you please pop in to see me when you have a minute?”
Oh no, she knows! She knows that I’m a fraud. She knows I’m actually no good at this. This is it – this is the day the world finally sees the real me. Oh God, how am I going to pay my bills? I mean really, if she fires me I’m done for. Everyone will know I’m a fake and I’ll never work again. What am I going to do?
That used to be my reaction every time my boss requested to see me. And guess what? I’m pretty sure I’m not alone. Millions of people – particularly women – share my experiences. Our mindset is often referred to as impostor syndrome.
Impostor syndrome is defined as “a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist in the face of information that the opposite is true.”
The key element here is that these feelings of inadequacy are stubborn little buggers! They stick around even when there is cold, hard evidence that you are an amazing, successful woman. For instance, you get a promotion and immediately panic – you’re thinking that you’ve fooled everyone, you are actually grossly underqualified and your boss just doesn’t realize it yet!
To some degree these doubts are perfectly normal, however, in some people (me!) they become a big problem. These feelings can begin to really hold you back. Now, if you’re still reading this then I’m guessing that you can identify with my situation so can I ask you a quick question?
How would it feel to be happier, more confident and to truly believe in yourself?
As someone who has been there, let me tell you – it feels so great! But how can you do it? What steps can you take today to make a change? Well, there are some key things we have to do to overcome our impostor syndrome and here we go!
1. Assess where your impostor syndrome is coming from
Often we have experienced these feelings of inadequacy for far longer than we realize so it’s critical to take a little time to get to the root of the problem.
2. Find out how exactly your impostor syndrome manifests itself in daily life.
Each of us is unique and so is our impostor syndrome. Take a little time to think about the thoughts and actions that reinforce your self-doubt.
3. Acknowledge your inner fraud.
Make a list of all the reasons you think you’re not good enough. This may seem counterintuitive but if you’re really honest with yourself and write down as many reasons as you can think of, you will begin to see that many aren’t true and some are just downright silly!
4. Learn to accept success.
This is a difficult one but you have to start taking responsibility for your success. Your achievements are not due to luck or good timing, they are a direct result of your passion, commitment and grit.
5. Learn to accept praise.
Okay, this one still makes me cringe sometimes but if we accept praise with an open mind and an open heart then we begin to believe it. When that happens we finally begin seeing what everybody else has seen all along – we are strong, passionate, courageous women!
If you are committed to kicking your impostor syndrome these steps can get you get you there! If you want a little more detail and guidance sign up this free email course in overcoming impostor syndrome.
Aileen is the founder of epistoleary.com - a website committed to helping women free themselves from perfectionism. She is a recovering perfectionist herself and loves helping women transform their lives. To learn more try out her free 6-day course in overcoming impostor syndrome.