We’ve all experienced self-doubt at some point in our lives…well, fine, many times…but what happens when this self-doubt is chronic and just doesn’t go away? Or leads you to see yourself as a fraud? Psychologists have started to pay closer attention to this phenomenon, dubbing it the Imposter Syndrome. As the name implies, it leaves those afflicted (women overwhelmingly) feeling like a fake.
While it’s not yet an official diagnosis, perfectionists and people who are often looked to as experts, seem to be more vulnerable to this condition. If you see yourself in these 10 signs, you too may be suffering from Imposter Syndrome (and here’s what you can do about it).
You are often described as a perfectionist
Try this:Perfect is a process not a destination (it doesn’t exist). Remind yourself that you will always do your best, but that your best will vary depending on the circumstances (your health, your timelines and resources, etc.).
You see yourself as a fake
Try this:It’s not reasonable to expect that you will be a natural born expert at all new tasks. Be patient with yourself. Experience is the best teacher, and you are doing your homework.
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You fear your “fraud” will be discovered
Try this:You will make mistakes. And mistakes can be a good thing, when approached with the right mindset. Think of them as learning opportunities.
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This fear makes you feel anxious
Try this:Be sincere and open with what you are working on improving. Nobody is perfect, and your candidness and honesty will be recognized by the right people.
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When doing your work, you tend to focus on your struggles and challenges
Try this:Reframe your thinking and manually override your tendency to focus on your deficiencies. Recognize them. Take note. Come up with strategies to overcome these mistakes. But don’t dwell there. Instead, for each challenge, mistake, or error, also remember what you did right.
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You feel uncomfortable with praise
Try this:Simply say “thank you.” If somebody was directly involved in your achievement, do recognize them. But also accept the accolades.
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You use minimizing language
Try this:Be direct. Say what needs to be said with courtesy and tact. But forego the self-deprecating lingo. It does nobody any favours.
At work, you are reluctant to volunteer for tasks that are beyond your job description
Try this:Try something beyond your comfort zone. Often, this is where the most rewarding experiences reside.
You feel like you’re “winging it”
Try this:Consider this for a hot sec: A Hewlett Packard report found that men apply for jobs or promotions even if they meet only 60% of the qualifications, whereas women only apply if they feel they’ve met 100% of the qualifications. This has huge career-limiting implications, because what dooms the latter group is not failing, but, in fact, not trying.
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You feel like you’re not enough
Try this:You may need to do some deeper soul-searching to determine why you feel this way, but the fact remains: You are enough.
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