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How to Manage the Imposter Syndrome

It is key to break and stay away from the imposter syndrome. By staying clear of the imposter syndrome, you’ll be able to reach your true potential.



Reflection questions


Do you second guess your own capabilities even though you’ve achieved success?

Do you doubt yourself and consider luck as the main reason for your success?

Do you feel you’re not good enough even though many find you brilliant?

If you say “yes” to any of the above questions, how do you know what you’re feeling is true? Chances are, you’re feeling something called the imposter syndrome.

What is imposter syndrome?


Imposter syndrome is defined as "a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success." It is not based on truth or some general lack of ability. Instead, it is subjectively based on one’s thoughts, feelings and perceptions. 

If left unchecked, imposter syndrome will result in "chronic self-doubt and a sense of intellectual fraudulence that override any feelings of success or external proof of their competence." When it spirals out of control, this self-doubt will derail or in some instances prevent a person from reaching his or her true potential.


Imposter syndrome is a widespread phenomenon and no one is spared. Anyone can feel it, even seasoned professionals. The degree in which one feels the imposter syndrome may range from mild to severe, and the latter is particularly harmful to one’s mental health and well-being.


I too am not spared!


Yes, I am not spared and I would sometimes feel the imposter syndrome. It can be on any matter (it doesn’t discriminate!) ranging from personal life to professional and work matters. Whenever I doubt myself or my capabilities, or become particularly hard on myself, I know the imposter syndrome has crept in.


During those bouts, I would generally feel demoralised and unmotivated. My energy level would be low. My mind would wonder, usually irrationally or negatively. I certainly don’t welcome these unpleasant and uncomfortable feelings!


My self-awareness helps me to immediately channel my negative thoughts elsewhere and focus on more positive aspects of life. As the bouts don’t last long, my mindset remains positive most of the time.

How do you manage the imposter syndrome?


Tip #1: Check whether what you're feeling is real


One way to know is to objectively look at the evidence that demonstrates your performance capabilities and the results that you’ve achieved.


Ask yourself the following questions:-

1. How did you get to where you are right now?

2. What exactly did you do to get there?

3. How do your bosses appreciate your contribution?

4. How are people around you responding to your performance?


The questions above are non-exhaustive and they serve to give you a reality check on your situation and the way you feel.


Tip #2: Confide in a trusted aide


I’m sure you have a few trusted aides that you’re comfortable confiding in whenever the need arises. Go forth and approach them.


When you share your feelings of imposter syndrome with your trusted aides, chances are you will be reminded that it is a common occurrence (others feel or have felt the same way too) that can be stopped. Also, as your trusted aides are usually honest, you can be assured that their positive affirmations are valid.


Unfortunately, not everyone finds it easy to open up and be vulnerable even to trusted aides. They feel that by sharing their feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt, they are in a way declaring that they admit and accept these feelings as true. On the contrary, openly sharing the feelings of imposter syndrome with trusted aides will inevitably help to boost confidence and overcome feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt.


Why is it important to overcome the imposter syndrome?


Feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt can lead to fear, anxiety and stress. When this happens, your job performance will decline together with your job satisfaction. And when the situation prolongs, depression and burnout will set in and you’ll spiral further downwards. It’s a vicious cycle that you need to stay clear of!


It is key to break and stay away from the imposter syndrome the very moment you become aware of it. Do try the two methods prescribed above and hopefully you are able to nip it in the bud. You owe it to yourself to be the best version you can be, and by breaking away and staying clear of the imposter syndrome, you’ll certainly be able to reach your true potential.


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