Have you ever felt like a peasant among royalty in the workplace? That even though you’ve gotten a great promotion or chance to lead a project, you haven’t really earned it? Despite your accomplishments and qualifications, maybe you have a feeling you don’t quite belong in your role. Surely, luck played a role in you getting the job, and your peers are much more talented?
There’s a name for this type of thought process. It’s called imposter syndrome, and it’s very common. The concept was first identified in the late 1970s by researchers Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes, who wrote:
“The term impostor phenomenon is used to designate an internal experience of intellectual phonies, which appears to be particularly prevalent and intense among a select sample of high achieving women.”-Clance and Imes
Further research shows that while a proportionately high number of women experience imposter syndrome, people of all genders and age groups can be affected. Psychology Today’s Megan Dalla-Camina best describes imposter syndrome as “A psychological phenomenon in which people are unable to internalize their accomplishments.”
Imposter syndrome can have a negative effect in the workplace, as noted by New View Psychology. Strong imposter feelings can lead to caving under pressure, procrastinating important tasks out of fear, and burnout.
The good news is that if you’re feeling like a fraud at work, you aren’t alone, and there are ways to overcome these feelings. The experts at Forbes found 15 ways to overcome imposter syndrome at work. We break them down into three categories that can help you embrace your success and conqueror imposter syndrome.
Reframe your mindset
The most simple way to overcome imposter syndrome is changing how you view yourself, though it can be easier said than done.
Imes, who is now a clinical psychologist in Georgia, believes,
“Most high achievers are pretty smart people, and many really smart people wish they were geniuses. But most of us aren’t. We have areas where we’re quite smart and areas where we’re not so smart.”-Suzanne Imes, Ph.D.
She suggests in light of this to make a list of things you’re good at and things you need to work on. This allows one to recognize positive traits that can be celebrated and compartmentalize ones that could use improvement rather than assuming a deficiency in all aspects.
Forbes cited Monica Thakrar, who thought the age-old “fake it til you make it strategy” can help. Practice what scares you and you’ll start to believe in yourself. After all, if you convinced yourself you’re an imposter, you can convince yourself you’re a superstar.
Find ways to celebrate your success
Reframing the way you view yourself and your accomplishments goes a long way to solving imposter syndrome, but creating concrete reminders helps it stick. Celebrating the things you’ve accomplished and recognizing the work that went into it can remind you that you’ve earned your opportunities fairly.
Keeping a journal and reflecting on a few accomplishments a day can help you stay focused as well as create a tangible list of success you can reflect on, believes Vantage Consulting’s Christian Muntean. HuffPost discussed the idea of creating a ‘brag folder’ in order to celebrate your accomplishments. They cite actress Jenneviere Villegas, who defined the ‘brag folder’ this way:
“Start a folder on your desktop — mine is called ‘you’re doing a great job’ ― and when you get positive feedback, a compliment, etc., screenshot it and put it in there. When you need a confidence boost, or to combat imposter syndrome, open it up and read them.” -Jenneviere Villegas
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
Ultimately, if you struggle with changing your mindset, reaching out to others can make a difference. Asking your supervisors or peers for feedback can give you insight without your own bias, Janet Fouts of Tatu Digital Media told Forbes.
Mentoring can be a fantastic way to work through imposter syndrome—on both sides of the process. The Muse’s Ximena Vengoechea believes that by mentoring someone, you’ll realize how much knowledge you have and that it can help you rediscover some of your best skills. Sometimes going back to basics opens up new lines of thought.
Meanwhile, Scott Singer of Insider Career Strategies told Forbes finding a mentor of your own can help.
“Everyone finds themselves in a new situation at some point in their career. Identifying a good mentor who’s been there before can make all the difference—he or she can offer strategic insights, support, encouragement and constructive criticism from their own experience, while also acting as a sounding board.” -Scott Siner
In the end, sometimes professional help is the best answer. There’s no stigma in finding a therapist for finding a solution more tailored to your needs, believes Career Pro Inc.’s John M. O’Connor.
Imposter syndrome is something anyone can suffer from, and while that means not every solution will work for everyone, there are many ways to try to overcome these thoughts. Building self-confidence isn’t always easy, but there are plenty of resources to help. The Muse offers a helpful guide to discover what type of imposter syndrome you may have to discover even more tailored options for your needs. Remember, you’ve come this far for a reason, and you have people in your corner willing to remind you.