How can we overcome feeling as if we don’t deserve what we have achieved, especially as we take stock of ourselves over this last year? It’s a common thought process, according to our expert life coach and author Angie McCourt, as she shares insight from her book, Love Your Gifts: Permission to Revolutionize Authenticity in the Workplace.
Do you ever feel you don’t deserve your achievements? After a success, do you dismiss it as just good luck or timing? Do you apologize for yourself even if you didn’t do anything wrong? Do you think others overvalue your success? Do you toss away simple compliments or acknowledgments? There are many underlying components to feel like this and it’s often referred to as Imposter Syndrome.
True imposter feelings involve self-doubt, uncertainty about your talents and abilities, and a sense of unworthiness that doesn’t align with what others think about you despite your education, experience, and accomplishments. In addition to a crippling self-belief that you don’t deserve your success or that you couldn’t replicate it, you are also unable to internalize positive achievements.
To counter these feelings, you might work harder and hold yourself to even higher standards. This pressure can eventually take a toll on your emotional well-being and performance. Imposter feelings represent a conflict between your self-perception and how others perceive you.
Here’s how imposter syndrome might show up in your day. 1. You’ve been working in a certain role for a couple of months, yet when people call you by your formal title, you feel like a fraud because you haven’t mastered that position. 2. You’ve started your own business, board role, or in a new job. However, you don’t like to promote yourself because you don’t have the same level of experience or expertise as others in your field, making you feel like a fraud. 3. You’ve been nominated for an award, but feel like an imposter at the recognition ceremony because you don’t feel that your achievements are good enough to warrant the nomination.
Imposter Syndrome has a lot of adverse effects, including not asking for help, burnout, turning down new opportunities, avoiding feedback or criticism (no matter how well-intended or constructive), and even anxiety, depression, and guilt. There are five types of imposter syndrome that can help distill how it shows up:
- The Perfectionist believes that unless they are absolutely perfect, they could have done better. They believe they’re not as good as others might think they are. This can show up in parenting as well.
- The Expert believes they need to know everything there is to know about a particular subject or topic, or they haven’t mastered every step in order to become an expert.
- The Natural Genius feels like a fraud simply because they don’t believe they are naturally intelligent or competent, especially if they don’t get something right the first time or it takes longer to master a skill. This can also pop up for athletes who have natural talent.
- The Soloist believes that if they had to ask for help to reach a certain level or status and couldn’t get there on their own, then their competence or abilities is questioned and diminished.
- The Superhero believes that they must be the hardest worker or reach the highest levels of
- achievement possible and, if they don’t, they are a fraud. This is a common one in parenting as well.
IMPOSTER SYNDROME RELIEF
- Acknowledge and share your feelings with others. This disempowers irrational core beliefs.
Focus on connecting with and helping others. Especially if they are struggling with imposter syndrome. When negative feelings surface one of the best things is to become ‘other human’ focused.
- Assess your abilities. Reflect on your accomplishments over time. What were your contributions, lessons, and skills learned?
- Question your thoughts. Challenge their truth. How can they be true given everything you know and have experienced?
- Stop comparing. Use social media sparingly. Show support for others instead of judging yourself.
- Focus on what you are grateful for. If negative thoughts pop up, stop, and think about or write down five things you are grateful for at that moment.
- Say “Thank You” when someone offers a compliment or congratulates you on an achievement—even the simplest acknowledgment matters. Don’t blow it off.
You can get ahead of it. Consider any time you have change in your life, such as starting something new, imposter syndrome might rear its ugly head. Refuse to be held back. No matter how much you feel like you are a fraud or that you don’t belong, don’t let that stop you from pursuing your goals. You are valid, you are worthy, you are valued, and you deserve your successes. Keep going and refuse to be stopped.