Imposter Syndrome: How to Overcome it With Self-compassion

Last Updated: June 05, 2023

Imposter Syndrome: How to Overcome it With Self-compassion

Do you ever feel like you're not good enough and that everything you've achieved is just a result of luck and coincidence? You might be experiencing imposter syndrome. Discover how to overcome it.

When you wake up every morning and look at yourself in the mirror, do you think that you're not good enough and that everything you have achieved is simply a product of luck and coincidence? If you've experienced this several times, you may be suffering from what is known as "imposter syndrome."

This personal difficulty, rather than a medical problem, incapacitates us and prevents us from experiencing the joy and satisfaction of our own accomplishments. While it may seem like a simple thing, if left untreated, it can affect your life in various ways. Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to overcome imposter syndrome, starting today.

Imposter syndrome never completely goes away, but you can keep it under control by learning to identify it and confronting it with its own weapons.

Have you ever felt incapable of believing in your achievements? That you don't really know how to do your job and that anyone could do it better than you? If this happens to you, you might be experiencing what is known as "imposter syndrome."

The constant feeling of being a fraud - that's how someone who suffers from imposter syndrome feels. When faced with a promotion at work, congratulations for a successful project, recognition for daily work, receiving an award, or even a simple compliment, they never fully believe they deserve it. Ultimately, they feel that it's not meant for them and that they're not good enough.

What is Imposter Syndrome?

In order to combat this psychological phenomenon, it is important to first understand what imposter syndrome is. Imposter syndrome is a feeling of insecurity related to professional achievements. You may feel like an imposter because you don't believe you deserve your job. Often, imposter syndrome makes you feel like you are fooling your coworkers into thinking you are good at what you do, and you perceive yourself as a fraud.

Now, do we know what Imposter Syndrome really is and what it implies? This syndrome, also called fraud syndrome, "is a psychological disorder that makes those who suffer from it doubt their own abilities. Someone with imposter syndrome will not recognize their achievements, will experience emotional exhaustion, and will eventually see their productivity at work affected and their stress levels greatly increased.

The most evident manifestations of this syndrome are:

  •  Belief of not deserving one's own achievements.
  •  Disbelief in one's own abilities.
  •  Fear of others discovering that they are a fraud.
  •  Perpetual dissatisfaction.
  •  Expectation of failure in situations that typically lead to success.
  •  Demotivation associated with lack of self-confidence.
  •  Anxiety, sadness, despair, hopelessness.

Causes of Imposter Syndrome

In early studies on the syndrome, researchers found that it was associated with factors including early family dynamics and gender stereotypes. However, it is now known to occur in individuals of all backgrounds, ages, and genders.

Just as you go to the doctor to have a stomach ache checked, you should seek help from a psychologist if you're emotionally feeling unwell.

It's easy to see that this set of symptoms follows a pattern characterized by paralyzing fear, nerves, or stress that prevent you from carrying out your activities. Moreover, low self-esteem can prevent you from seeing the positive aspects of your life. Although it may be difficult to recognize the symptoms and understand how the problem affects us, taking this first step is crucial.

How to Overcome Imposter Syndrome?

You might be experiencing imposter syndrome. And now, the most important question: how to identify it and gradually overcome it? Here are some key points based mainly on self-reflection.

Accept that not everything revolves around you.

Even if you believe it, people are not talking about you behind your back. You are not the subject of others' ridicule, nor are you being used as a reference for mistakes. On the contrary, people tend to forget quickly what others have done for a simple reason: they have more important things to worry about and their own problems to solve. It is common for imposter syndrome to arise from the need to please others. You can start by doing things that you consider appropriate in your own eyes, and end up feeling like you lost yourself in the process. At this point, it is important to recognize that the only person who should be satisfied with you is yourself.

Acknowledge your merits with self-compassion

One of the fundamental factors of imposter syndrome is believing that personal achievements are not deserved or matched.

Identify in which cases this happens and recognize that luck does not exist. The only thing that determines your successes or failures is how you choose to seize the opportunities that arise. Those who live with this syndrome may feel that what others recognize in them is unfounded. It is very easy to get carried away by this feeling and let it grow like a snowball. If you're at this point, stop and analyze whether you are truly being overvalued or not. To avoid negative self-talk, try to see the situation from an external perspective. In other words, reframe the whole exercise as if you were analyzing another person.

Stop comparing yourself to others

Despite how much we like to compare ourselves, we must stop doing it. Yes, we know it's difficult because we have dealt with it from a very young age.

Perhaps you were compared to your siblings, cousins, or relatives. Or at school, you were compared to other children based on grades or abilities. This is nothing more than another bad habit that causes imposter syndrome. Everyone is competent in certain things. Think about all the people you have ever compared yourself to.

You must remember that, just as we are all unique, we all have something admirable to others. Similarly, you have something special that makes you stand out among others.

Become aware

The first step is to recognize it. Do you hear that little voice inside you that always undermines you, convinces you that you will never know enough, or tells you that if what you do isn't 100% perfect, it won't be worth anything? That's imposter syndrome whispering in your ear from within.

If you want to put a stop to it, silence the fears it instills in you, and overcome it, you need to identify it. How? I have a trick to realize when my imposter syndrome takes hold of my life: writing in my emotions journal every night before going to bed.

Put down on paper what you feel, look inward, and locate that discourse that only serves to limit your potential.

Think positively

Words have much more power than you imagine. If you tell yourself 'I'm not good enough' or 'I can't do it,' your mind and body will end up believing it. That's why it's so important to change the discourse that imposter syndrome drags along and start using positive language.

Recognize your successes

Someone compliments your work or congratulates you on your achievements, and instead of responding with a simple 'Thank you,' you decide to add 'It's not a big deal,' 'It was mostly luck,' etc.

Recognize your feelings

The first step in dealing with imposter syndrome is to be honest with oneself and identify, analyze, and acknowledge what one is feeling. It is pointless to try to

 silence or ignore those thoughts. They will still be there. You have to face them and be aware that those sensations are valid, but they are not reality.

Share those feelings

Isolation is one of the consequences of imposter syndrome, and it is something that needs to be avoided. In fact, once these feelings have been acknowledged, the next step towards overcoming them is to share them with another person. It is very likely to find someone else who has also experienced them. With this psychological phenomenon, it is important to know that you are not alone.

Decide to overcome imposter syndrome

Although this is the most obvious point, it is also the most difficult. Overcoming your fears or changing your mindset is not something that happens overnight, no matter how much effort we put into it. Moving forward and leaving imposter syndrome behind will not be an easy task, but with the necessary determination, it is possible. Remember that each person is unique and faces different problems. Our recommendation is that you try to understand the root of the problem. If you find that you have been struggling with it for too long and can no longer see a way to progress, seek therapy.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Does imposter syndrome ever go away?

First of all, you should not get yourself under the stress of completely getting rid of imposter syndrome. You apply the tips we have suggested to overcome the syndrome, it will help you take it away.

What triggers my imposter syndrome?

Your disbeliefs, fears, dissatisfactions, demotivation, anxiety and sadness normally trigger the imposter syndrome.

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