Do you ever feel like you don’t deserve the job you have? Perhaps you find yourself doubting your colleagues when they praise you on a job well done, or you consistently wonder how you’re still employed. If these thoughts ring a bell, you may have imposter syndrome. This is the belief that you aren’t good enough professionally and produces the fear that others will soon realize you’re a fraud.
A recent study suggests that 70 percent of people will experience at least one episode of impostor syndrome in their lifetime. With such prevalence, it’s difficult to understand how the phenomenon continues to isolate employees and make them feel inadequate.
When you have imposter syndrome, you don’t feel adequate in your professional life despite evidence that says otherwise. You might have created your company’s website from scratch, been the employee of the month three times, and gotten several compliments from your boss, but this does nothing to ease your doubts. Those who suffer from these thoughts must find ways to overcome them because they cause stress, anxiety, and self-doubt.
Here are four signs you suffer from imposter syndrome as well as tips to overcome it.
1. You feel like a fraud
The point of the phenomenon being called imposter syndrome is that it makes you feel like a fraud. You don’t feel like you know what you’re doing or that you’re adequate for the job you have. As a result, you feel like you’re wearing a mask and wonder when people will figure out you aren’t good enough for your title.
It might feel like it’s a matter of time before everything comes crashing down and your colleagues realize how inadequate you are. Even when you surpass your coworkers’ accomplishments and gain recognition from the CEO, you still find yourself wondering how you can keep up with the facade.
2. It’s difficult to accept praise
Does it make you cringe when your manager says you’ve done well on a project? Do you question whether or not their compliments are sincere? Is it difficult for you to accept praise on your work performance? If you answered yes to these, there’s a high chance you have imposter syndrome.
When you have imposter syndrome, any praise you receive from others feels invalid and dishonest. Even if there’s social proof from clients and customers saying you’re the best, you don’t believe it. You might feel like someone’s playing a cruel joke on you when they compliment your successes, no matter how admirable they are. Because people with this mindset find it impossible that they might be good at their job, they can’t imagine why anyone else would think so. This makes it difficult for them to take compliments in stride and believe in the work they do.
3. You overwork yourself
When you don’t feel like you’re good enough, you’ll do everything in your power so that it goes unnoticed. That’s why it’s common for those with imposter syndrome to overwork and exert themselves more than those who don’t. They’re perfectionists, and it’s not out of the ordinary for them to find a problem in areas others wouldn’t unless pointed out.
The problem is, even when you outperform others and complete a task that deserves recognition, you still find yourself believing you aren’t good enough. You’ll come up with various excuses as to why you achieved something so impressive and ask yourself how you managed to pull it off. It’s as if everyone but you sees the value in your work.
4. Failure isn’t an option
Failure is normal, and something everyone experiences in and out of the workplace. You can’t be great at everything all the time, nor should you be. Being human means messing up and making mistakes, but for those with imposter syndrome, it isn’t an option.
Imposter syndrome doesn’t give you room for error. The worst possible thing that could happen is making a noticeable mistake, no matter how forgivable. Your expectations for yourself are higher than anyone else’s, so when you do mess up, the downward spiral is much more humiliating. You’re quick to understand others’ shortcomings but somehow find your own to be unacceptable.
Overcoming imposter syndrome
Feeling inadequate at work can take a toll on your mental health and cause social anxiety. Imposter syndrome is closely linked to social anxiety disorder (SAD) since both display feelings of inadequacy, obsessive thoughts, and worrying. This causes heightened fear and self-doubt.
It’s important to remember that it is something you can control as long as you’re willing to put the work in. Negative thoughts and feelings won’t disappear overnight, but actively working towards suppressing them one step at a time will help you get there eventually.
To overcome imposter syndrome, try these tips:
Acknowledge that you have imposter syndrome
The first step to stopping imposter syndrome is acknowledging that you have it. Awareness is essential to overcome your self-doubt because it helps you recognize that your thoughts are irrational and come from a place of fear. The more you deny that you’re adequate and that your thoughts are holding you back, the slower you’ll come to a solution.
Accept praise surrounding your accomplishments
If your boss or colleague takes the time to compliment your efforts and congratulate you on an achievement, it’s from a place of sincerity. No one in a professional landscape will bother to acknowledge your achievements if they aren’t impressive. So, the next time someone compliments your hard work on increasing email subscribers or answering support tickets quickly, accept the compliment.
Start by replying with a “thank you.” Choose to believe what your colleagues tell you and see it from their perspective. It helps if there’s data or feedback to back up your accomplishments, such as bringing in higher revenue or a client’s positive comments. However, even if you don’t have those elements, it’s still crucial to believe in your professional abilities because you deserve to feel valued.
Speak to a professional
If your imposter symptoms are severe and you can’t remedy them on your own, it’s wise to speak to a mental health professional. They can help you distinguish between your perception of your work versus its reality and give you feedback on how to tackle those disparaging thoughts. It can also help you identify where these feelings started so you can break the cycle and start believing in yourself as a professional.
Wrapping it up
There’s no shame in admitting you live with imposter syndrome, but you must take the steps necessary to overcome it. If not, it’ll become debilitating in a way that doesn’t let you succeed and paints you as a fraud. It’s important to see yourself as a valuable piece of the puzzle in the workplace. You add something to it that no one else can, and for that alone, you’re far from a phony. How will you overcome your feelings of inadequacy in the workplace?