It’s the first day of your new job and you’re excited yet nervous for all that lies ahead. Here you are. You worked hard, probably even over-prepared for this moment, yet you immediately worry that everyone will find out you really don’t belong here. Even though you didn’t lie on your resume, you feel you don’t deserve this. How can they possibly believe you do?
You feel like you fooled everyone into thinking you’re competent, like you “tricked” them. Does this sound familiar? During a moment of success have you doubted yourself or felt that it wasn’t a big deal? It is extremely frustrating to go through moments like this especially when you see others placing confidence in you while you feel like a “fake.” You’re always on the guard, worried that others will “find you out” and realize you’re not worthy.
This phenomenon, Impostor Syndrome is common in perfectionists and overachievers who aren’t able to internalize and accept their success. These people have unrealistically high standards for themselves that it is difficult to meet their own goals. Even when they do reach them, they are more prone to attribute their success to luck than their own skills. This type of intellectual self-doubt is often paired with anxiety and/or depression.
Many people who feel like impostors grew up in families that placed a big emphasis on achievement. Specifically, parents who send mixed messages by alternating between over-praise and criticism can increase the risk of fraudulent feelings developing. Living in a society that focuses on achievements adds to the problem. The result is confusion between approval, love, and worthiness. Self-worth becomes on achieving.
Those struggling with Impostor Syndrome may avoid applying for promotions, for more responsibility and suffer from higher stress. How can you break this pattern?
Challenge your thoughts
You will discover that at the root of your self-doubt is a negative core belief that you’re not good enough. Ask yourself, when will I ever be good enough? What does good enough mean? Challenge this negative thought by finding evidence in favor of it and against it. It helps to ask yourself would I think this of a love one if they were in my shoes? If the answer is no, then ask yourself why you think this way of yourself.
Recognize that nobody is perfect. Practice letting go of high standards by doing a “good enough” job and walking away. Make time to appreciate your hard work and create rewards for yourself for completed tasks.
Recognize your strengths
List out the skills you have and learn to accept that you are good at certain things which have value. Yes, there will always be someone better at something, however that doesn’t make your strengths any less important because they are unique to you.
Talk to others about this
Being open and sharing this struggle with those you trust is a way to create awareness for others. They may even help you recognize when you’re engaging thoughts of self-doubt that need challenging. If it is difficult to work on this on your own, consider contacting a counselor to learn skills and challenge negative thinking pattern together. If you struggle with anxiety and depression, a professional will teach you how to cope in a healthy and effective way.