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Imposter Syndrome

You know that voice in your head that says you are not good enough? The overwhelming feeling of self doubt and insecurity and insufficiency. When you think everyone else has it figured out except yourself.  It has a name: Imposter Syndrome.

Imposter Syndrome was first identified in the 1970s in women, however, it does not discriminate. The idea that overachieving people truly believe that they do not what they are doing, however, their colleagues do. Therefore, they are the only ones posing as something they are not. An imposter. The truth is no one knows 100% what they are doing. Everyone is trying their best to act as if they do. The truth is also that you know a lot more than you think you do. You might feel as if this is obvious, however, it needs to be said for the long term effects are more debilitating than one might initially believe.

Long term feelings of inadequacy and self doubt can undermine career development and emotional health. Imagine if you constantly believe that you are not good enough. When challenges arise at work, you will question whether your solutions have merit. You might ask others for advice and choose their solutions when actually your initial idea was better. The constant second-guessing can hold you back from reaching your true potential.

There are a few ways to combat imposter syndrome that are proven to be effective. The first method could be considered the hardest due to its objectivity requirement. Look at the evidence. Have you met all your goals? Is there any proof that you are indeed failing or do not know what you are doing? Is it solely based on feelings? If so, put aside the self doubt and realize how well you are doing. Understand that you might be self-criticizing til demise. Remove yourself from the equation, imagine a coworker with your same work record came to you and confided that they were feeling inadequate. Would you think they were inadequate or just being too hard on themselves? Be as kind to yourself as you would be to someone you love.

The second method is to celebrate your accomplishments. Do not allow feelings of inadequacy to diminish your successes. Understand that your successes are a result of hard work and talent not a slip-up or getting lucky. Once you realize that you are in charge of your successes, you can give yourself the credit you deserve.

The third technique is to remember that this is a common feeling. Most people are trying to figure out what they are doing. Other’s confidence deludes us all into believing that others know more than we do. When in reality, this is all of our first lives. We are all learning as we go. It is estimated that 70 percent of people feel fraudulent at one time or another.

The fourth lesson is to fake it til you make it. Everyone is faking it and that’s okay. Even when we think that we are not faking it, we are. If you wake up one day with a little less confidence than normal, pretend that you still have it. Imitating confidence creates a small bit of actual confidence.

At the end of the day, everyone is doing their best. Sometimes yours, and everyone else’s best means not knowing what they are doing or pretending like you do, but that’s ok. Just remember that your best is still good and you are not a fraud. Something to remember is that perfection can not be achieved. Sometimes it’s okay to fall short of perfect. Sometimes it’s even healthy to do so. Failure is oftentimes a way in which we can confront our humanity. If you are used to doing everything perfectly then doing something imperfectly reminds us that we are just like everyone else. There is power in failure for it allows us to face our shortcomings. Failing is an opportunity to learn and perfectionism holds us back from this opportunity.

Next time you are pushing yourself to perfectionism or believe that you are an imposter due to your failure to be perfect, remind yourself that you are doing your best and your best never needs to be perfect.

By Gariella Knox and Liz Ross

Therapy in Houston, Texas providing support and practical tools to work through personal or professional challenges.

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