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  • Writer's pictureNessa

How To Beat Imposter Syndrome By Making It Work For You

Ever felt like a fraud despite success? Learn how to beat imposter syndrome by making it work in your favor.

There's a woman facing a iPad with her hands on her forehead in distress. Besides her iPad is crumpled up pieces of paper.

Glance Ahead

1. Unmasking Imposter Syndrome

2. Quit The Comparisons

3. Get Real

4. Believe In Your Greatness

Unmasking Imposter Syndrome

I know I’m not the only one with a critiquing voice in the back of my head. If you’ve ever felt that way, know you’re not alone. Around 70% of people will experience imposter syndrome at some point and most will get caught in a cycle of anxiety, depression, and fear of failure. If you’re willing to explore shifting how you respond to that voice and making it work in your favor, keep reading.

Personally, I am a self-deprecating perfectionist. I am always my biggest critic and there is nearly nothing an outsider could say to me that I haven’t already told myself, if not worse. Like most perfectionists, I have high expectations for myself and require success, so when I fail or misstep, I tend to get caught in a cycle of negativity. It’s easy for me to sink into negativity and languish in defeat. I push myself harder and expect more from myself than I would from anyone else, yet kick myself even more when it doesn’t work out exactly as anticipated. Maybe you’re experiencing something similar. I think about how I deserve my failure, or how I never should have expected to succeed. The saddest part is that my inner monologue is much more negative than the results of my life. I am actually far from a failure. Although I have made mistakes, I am not a fraud. No matter the logic or reasoning behind the mistake, the sheer fact that I’d made a mistake doesn’t defraud me of every other accomplishment. Mistakes don’t have to define us, a lesson I learned the hard way.

Quit The Comparisons

When I make a mistake, I often immediately start judging and comparing myself against everyone else. I would judge and put myself down to show myself that I didn’t deserve the success they had. Here’s the thing though, none of us have gotten where we are by sheer luck or accident. Everything that’s ever been accomplished takes some amount of effort.

While it’s human to compare ourselves to others, comparison is the thief of joy, and for someone else: YOU are the comparison.

Just because you didn’t see the hot mess it took for someone else to get to where they are, doesn’t mean it was a cakewalk. We don’t typically get to see the hard work, sacrifices, self-doubt, and even failures that other people endured along the way to their success. Give yourself and others grace, and don’t forget to consider all that it takes to achieve your accomplishments.

Woman is crouched underneath her desk, hugging her knees to her chest, and appears to feel uncomfortable or unconfident in the workplace.

At the same time, don’t let someone else meeting their goal diminish your progress. Just because they achieved success doesn’t mean you won’t. We are all on our own paths and timelines, and no one’s life is effortless (no matter how much social media might try to persuade you otherwise). Instead of looking at others’ accomplishments as a threat to your success, try to see if you can learn something from them. Maybe they have a quality or a value that you can be inspired by rather than trying to justify why one of you doesn’t deserve to win. Maybe their winning at this moment has no bearing on whether you will achieve that same thing eventually. The bottom line is that mistakes don’t have to be derailed. No matter how much it may sting your pride, nothing has been taken away from you or what you’ve accomplished.

Get Real

Pay attention to your feelings and thoughts, but remember that they aren’t necessarily an accurate representation of what’s actually happening. Our thoughts are often exaggerated, biased, and disproportionate to what is happening in reality. When you get caught in the cycle of imposter syndrome, it can be hard to break the chain of thoughts that occur when you make a mistake or fall short. Rather than shying away from the thoughts and letting them scare you out of trying, run towards them. Believing that you are here on purpose is a step in the right direction and it starts with being honest with yourself. Not only will you be reminded of the abilities you already possess, but you can also focus on building skills in areas where you may lack. Being honest with yourself in this way can help you recognize when your thoughts aren’t in line with reality. This will allow you to approach new challenges or tasks with a rational mind and less emotion.

Journaling was a helpful self-reflection tool that helped me to realize what I was doing to myself. Writing down my feelings and taking stock of them helped me understand why I felt like an imposter, and it also helped me remember that just because I thought something, didn’t make it was real. Another tool that helped me remember my value in the face of failure was listing my strengths and weaknesses. Once I had everything inventoried, I was able to step back and take a more reasonable approach to acknowledging areas where I needed improvement while focusing on my strengths. In taking stock of all the things I’ve accomplished I was able to clearly see what led me to reaching my goals.

Believe In Your Greatness

Stop letting your thoughts take away from your lived experiences. Don’t doubt your greatness, own it. You have earned everything you have ever accomplished and no one can take that away from you. Don’t believe that life just happens to you, be an active and willing participant. You’re not fooling anyone, you ARE great. Revel in it and enjoy it. Take accountability for your successes and believe that you are here on purpose.

Never, ever, ever write off anything you’ve achieved as merely being lucky. You are not lucky: you are hard-working and capable. Don’t ever question it. — Charlene Walters

No one ever said you have to be perfect or always make the right choice, and failing at something doesn’t automatically mean you’re a fraud. Consider all of the opportunities you would miss if you stopped giving yourself a chance. Are you willing to let your life pass you by because you don’t think you deserve another chance? Breaking the cycle of negative thinking won’t be easy but you will enjoy your life so much more for it. The next time you misstep, have the courage to live like you are supposed to be here. Don’t doubt your greatness, own it.


Comment Below: Are you willing to break a negative thought pattern or a bad habit? What will it take for you to overcome it and what have you tried so far?

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That quote is everything!

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