How to banish your inner ‘impostor’

Ines Gonzalez, Career Coach

You got the job you wanted but, really, you don’t deserve it. Maybe you were just in the right place at the right time. You are sure there were better candidates for it. And excuses go on and on – you might just be experiencing impostor syndrome, writes Ines Gonzalez, Career Coach, Sli Nua Careers.

Don’t fret. You are not alone. There are many ‘impostors’. About 70% of us have experienced it to some degree – from top executives to new hires.

Maybe you have been recently promoted. You have the pressure to deliver and the feeling that the company made a mistake by giving you more responsibility.

As simpler jobs are now outsourced or done by clever new software, professional jobs are more focused on complex tasks. This may be one of the reasons more and more people are experiencing impostor syndrome.

Imposter syndrome

To try to overcome something, first you need to understand it. Let me share some key points about impostor syndrome.

Put simply, it is the thought, and sometimes the belief, that you are not enough. Psychologist Dr Jessamy Hibbed says that impostor syndrome can manifest itself as insecurity, self-doubt, fear of failure, perfectionism, self-criticism, low self-esteem or inability to accept compliments.

Does any of this sound familiar?

Many people carry these thoughts constantly. They’re exhausting. Also, very few will decide to share or ask for help – that is why it is such a lonely place to be.

Impostor syndrome is a feeling, not a fact. It’s a theory you need to challenge. Question yourself: why am I so sure I am not enough? Where is this coming from?

Think about why you deserve all you have. The objective is to release the emotional drain that’s weighing you down.

Your inner voice – friend or foe?

What are you saying to yourself? Is it helpful? Is it your voice?

Try to find a kind new voice. Develop a new vocabulary and tone when talking to yourself. Keep practicing even if it sounds wrong at the beginning. We can be our own worst enemy and being nice to ourselves can feel very strange.

Avoid perfection. Aiming for perfection is a common trait among those who see themselves as ‘impostors’. Be aware of all the positive things going on, and acknowledge that some of them go wrong from time to time.

You cannot control everything. Your wellbeing will suffer if your goal is to be perfect all of the time. Pay attention to what you are doing – the process – rather than the perfect end you might be chasing.

Don’t fear failure. ‘Impostors’ have a mental spreadsheet where they log their mistakes. Mistakes are normal and healthy: they help you to learn and move forward in a stronger way. Let them come and accept their value.

‘Impostors’ spend too much time on failures. Switch your mind to think of good things and spend some of your time on the positive outcomes. Catch yourself doing something well.

If you identify as an impostor, make a decision to change. Look for strategies to help you, talk to trusted friends or colleagues.

Enjoy and acknowledge all the good things you do and the value you provide. Change your internal dialogue. This change of attitude will help you achieve more.

Ines Gonzalez is a Career Coach with Sli Nua Careers.

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