“Everyone else is better than me. I am not as good as people think I am, and I am going to get found out.”
Does this sound familiar? Impostor Syndrome is a psychological pattern that leads individuals to doubt their accomplishments and fear being exposed as a “fraud.” It can be a significant source of stress, anxiety, and even self-sabotage.
But with the latest stats from YouGov stating that two-thirds of Britons (66%) say they have difficulty accepting compliments and praise from other people, with women significantly more likely than men to say they find this hard (72%), Kim Morgan MCC, CEO of Barefoot Coaching shares six classic symptoms of Impostor Syndrome, and ways to overcome it.
Inability to internalise your accomplishments: Do you downplay your achievements? Maybe you attribute them to external factors, and struggle to accept praise or compliments genuinely.
Feeling that others have an overinflated view of you: You may believe that people around you have an exaggerated perception of your skills and abilities, leading to constant self-doubt and fear of exposure this can also contribute to feelings of overwhelm and anxiety.
Attributing your success to luck or circumstance: Feeling like your accomplishments are as a result of being in the right place at the right time, rather than your skills or hard work.
Fear of being “found out”: Experiencing a nagging worry that others will discover you are not as competent as they believe, leading to increased anxiety and stress.
Feeling like a fraud: Despite evidence of your abilities and achievements, you may still feel like an impostor, unworthy of your success.
Believing your abilities devalue your achievements: You may think that if you can do something, it must not be that difficult or valuable, causing you to undervalue your own talents and skills.
Impostor Syndrome often goes hand-in-hand with perfectionism, a double whammy most could do without you could argue! But those suffering often find themselves pushing even harder, ironically leading to more success and, consequently, more feelings of being an impostor.
In contrast, the Dunning-Kruger effect is when individuals with low competence overestimate their abilities, while those with high competence undervalue their talents, so we need to find a happy medium.
But if you’re trying to overcome Impostor Syndrome, here are proven three coaching exercises to help you build confidence and take ownership of your achievements:
Get to know your impostor:
The impostor within us feels uncomfortable and we’d all rather it went away. As with anything that feels awkward, we tend to distract ourselves from the discomfort and ignore it exists. It doesn’t go away and instead reappears with more vigour, threatening any glimmer of confidence.
But what if you knew that by looking closer, you could quieten your impostor and learn to live with it in peaceful harmony?
When you get to know your impostor, you create an awareness around this inner part of you. Much like getting to know a new friend, you can work out who they are, what makes them tick, what makes them feel safe and what is likely to trigger them.
Create a timeline representing your life, starting from birth to the present day. Mark all the successes you’ve had, including feedback from others, promotions, qualifications, personal milestones, and more. Reflect on the strengths, skills, and qualities you used to achieve these milestones. Regularly review and update your timeline, acknowledging your growth and accomplishments.
Build an Evidence Wall:
Create a document or visual display that disproves your impostor thoughts. Include everything you’ve achieved and are proud of, like a legend list. This can be a powerful tool to remind yourself of your accomplishments and challenge any self-doubt.
We know that Impostor Syndrome can be a debilitating and limiting belief. However, with self-awareness and the right coaching exercises, you can overcome it, embrace your achievements, and build your confidence. Don’t let Impostor Syndrome hold you back from reaching your full potential. Embrace your successes and believe in yourself – you deserve it!