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5 ways to challenge imposter syndrome

Updated: Jan 16

Imposter syndrome affects so many of us and shows up regularly in both our personal and professional lives. But you don't need to let it hold you back - here are some ways you can start to challenge your own imposter and set yourself free.

  1. Get to know - Our imposter makes us feel uncomfortable, and when we’re uncomfortable, we want to protect ourselves. Often we do this by ignoring those feelings. However, that makes us even more uncomfortable. Instead of ignoring your imposter, try getting to know it more intimately. Who are they? What do they want? When did they first appear? What are their fears? Knowing this can help you prepare better for situations when they may appear and try to derail you.

  2. Look for the facts - What our imposter tells us is rarely based on fact. It strays to the negative, it repeats fears over and over, and gets us stuck where we are. Thoughts of I’m not good enough, I got here by accident, I was just in the right place and the right time. I’m going to be found out at any moment’ are not truths. Focus on the facts - your real experience, your strengths, the results you’ve delivered.

  3. Reframe your negative self-talk - ‘I’ll never be able to….’ keeps us firmly where we are. It prevents us taking chances, applying for the job, changing careers, speaking up in meetings, stepping out of our comfort zone, or even from having more fun. ‘I have before and I will again’ ‘I am resourceful and I will learn’ are much more freeing, hopeful and truthful narratives. Apply a reframe to open up possibilities.

  4. Sharing is caring - so many of us experience imposter syndrome, yet we don’t see imposter syndrome. We see everyone else being confident and achieving and succeeding. Yet those people TOO experience the same thoughts and feelings that we do. By sharing more openly how we feel, we invite others to do the same and we can support each other to move forward.

  5. Celebrate successes frequently - Wins feature in each day. Our brains are attuned to focus on what we haven’t done, what more there is to do, the skills we don’t have. Practice retraining your mind to look for the positives, the successes - big and small - professional and personal. Recalling successes and the role you played in achieving them helps quieten the imposter, demonstrate the evidence and reframe negative talk.

As Dr Valerie Young says ‘To stop feeling like an imposter, first you have to stop thinking like an imposter. The feeling is the last thing to change.’

I regularly run workshops on overcoming your imposter syndrome. Visit the workshops and programmes page to find out about upcoming events.

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