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How to overcome imposter syndrome?

Are you just starting a new job? Switching a position or had some of these questions for a longer period of time?

What am I doing? Do I belong here? Am I smart enough? How can I dare?

If you have any of these questions floating around between your ears - this is an article for you!

Credit: Credit:evgenyatamanenko

In this article, I describe what imposter syndrome is and provide some useful tools to decline any thoughts that might hamper your well-being.

If you’ve ever felt like an imposter at work, you’re not alone.

A 2019 review of 62 studies on imposter syndrome suggested anywhere from 9 to 82 percent of people report having thoughts along these lines at some point.

Impostor syndrome describes high achieving individuals who have trouble internalizing any accomplishments and experience persistent self-doubt. Often, the phenomena unravel as fear to be exposed as a fraudulent or impostor.

It's a heavy load to label oneself or be labeled as a person suffering from imposter syndrome! The underlying reference as a 'syndrome' makes reference to a medical condition. It recalls the “female hysteria” diagnoses of the nineteenth century.

Battling with imposter syndrome

Many leaders in history, regardless of gender have struggled with periods of uncertainty and confessed to having experienced it. From Former First Lady Michelle Obama to successful women in business as Sheryl Sandberg.

What we can learn from Michelle Obama and other women leaders sharing their stories about imposter syndrome is that it's rather an internalized stigma than a deficiency.

What is deemed as 'confident', ‘professional’, and 'good enough' - the antidotes to imposter has evolved as an evaluation process that is culturally biased and skewed against minorities.

What is the answer to imposter syndrome?

So what to do if you are struggling with nagging, endless anxiety that you’re not qualified for what you’re doing—and you’re about to be found out for it.

The answer to overcoming imposter syndrome is to recognize that imposter thoughts are internalized stigmas especially prevalent in environments characteristic of biased, toxic cultures that value individualism and overwork.

Here are a few steps that can help to let go of any thoughts that might manifest in a syndrome.

  1. Stop telling yourself or others that you have an imposter syndrome:

  2. Embrace uncertainty with stillness and accept that it is completely normal to feel anxious in new situations like a new work environment. Anxiety is excitement ;without breath so make sure to take advantage of your always available breathing toolkit;

  3. Remember your North Star, your purpose, and your guiding light. Map the strengths you bring to creating a positive outcome. A North Star will give you the courage to act even when afraid;

  4. If you are in a leadership role, create a diverse culture that facilitates conscious leadership, diversity of thought and leaves little room for biases.

I would like to end this article with a quote from one of my favorite authors, Ryan Holiday.

Of course, this insecurity exists almost entirely in our heads. People aren’t thinking about you. They have their own problems to worry about!

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