Have you ever had that feeling inside that you’re an imposter? It’s a common feeling that approximately 70% of us will experience in life. That’s a huge number! So, what is it all about?
Although it’s often referred to as imposter syndrome, this feeling is not actually a medical diagnosis. So, a more correct terminology would be Imposter Thinking. It’s not something you’re born with. But the good news is, you do have the power to do something about it, and it starts by changing the way you think.
What is Imposter Thinking?
In simple terms, it’s a pattern of thinking where you begin to question or doubt your own skills and talents. It can be triggered by a wide range of different scenarios or circumstances. For example, you might feel like an imposter when you apply for or get a new job, have some success, or when you have a negative experience.
We all have different triggers, and there are a number of different types of Imposter Thinking. Do you recognise any of these?
- The Perfectionist – Do you always feel that your work could have been better? When you focus on flaws rather than strengths, it can lead to a lot of self-pressure.
- The Superhero – Are you always pushing yourself further than anyone around you to prove you are not an imposter? Do you feel you must succeed in all areas of life?
- The Expert – While wanting to further your own education is important, do you always want to learn more and feel you need to know everything first? The Expert is often highly skilled but always underrates themselves.
- The Natural Genius – How often do you set unrealistic goals for yourself? Do you recognise the feeling of being demoralised when you don’t achieve them first time?
- The Soloist – Do you prefer to work alone and often reject offers of help in case you are perceived as weak? When you need to be over productive to value your own self-worth you may be experiencing Imposter Thinking.
How to Recognise Imposter Thinking
Imposter Thinking can make us behave differently. It can also seriously impact our confidence and wellbeing if we let it. So, it is important to recognise when you’re suffering and develop strategies to manage it.
Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I worry about even the smallest mistakes or flaws in my work?
- Do I attribute my success to luck or outside factors?
- Am I very sensitive to even constructive criticism?
- Do I feel like I will inevitably be found out as a fraud?
- Do I downplay my own expertise, even in areas where I am genuinely more skilled than others?
If you answered ‘Yes’ to any of these it may be that you are suffering from Imposter Syndrome.
What Can You Do About Imposter Syndrome?
Firstly, understand that this is a common issue. Try talking about it with others. It’s likely that they’ve also felt a similar way and will share their experiences too. You might even find that talking together will help each other to overcome the feelings of self-doubt that Imposter Thinking can cause.
Try to identify times you feel these doubts and identify any triggers. Focus on and write down your strengths and stop comparing yourself to others. Most importantly, be kind to yourself.
Imposter Thinking doesn’t stop when you reach a management position or achieve a certain goal. If you’re a people leader, you might find Imposter Thinking impacts on how you work with others, is adding to your own stress, or preventing you from trying to reach another level. When you do have worries about your own leadership style, then remember that our Leadership Workshops are here to help.