Imposter syndrome is the name we give to that nagging feeling inside our heads that we have no idea what we’re doing. It’s the feeling you get when you’re lost, and you think that at any moment, people are going to realize that you’re a fraud.
It usually happens the smartest among us, but it can happen to anyone, and there are a few tricks you can use to get over those feelings. You need to be confident and get over your imposter syndrome.
What Is Imposter Syndrome
So what is imposter syndrome? As mentioned above, it is the feeling of not being good enough. The feeling that you don’t know what you are doing makes you feel on edge like someone who has infiltrated an organization as a spy.
You feel like one day they’ll discover that you aren’t supposed to be here, and then you will lose everything. Imposter syndrome usually happens to people who haven’t had a lot of experience in their current field.
However, it can happen to people with experience if they end up in a period of depression or other negative experiences in their life.
The major symptom of imposter syndrome is someone avoiding risk in the professional world. For example, workers who don’t want to take on a new challenge because they are unsure of themselves and think they would fail.
Why Do Some People Feel Like Imposters?
The source of imposter syndrome is difficult because so many things can contribute to it. However, it has to do with your own thoughts and feelings that come from your life experiences.
It feels like you haven’t been good enough, and your achievements aren’t that special. It can also be caused by the way people treat you.
If you are treated in a way that makes you feel like people mistrust you or think you’re not good enough, you might start to believe them, and that leads to imposter syndrome later.
Figure Our What Makes You Feel This Way
The first step to getting over your imposter syndrome is to look deep within yourself and figure out why you feel this way. Is it because of some trauma in the past?
It could also be because you might not be confident about your current achievements, and you feel like you haven’t had many in a long time.
It can also be the fact that maybe you are young and other people are old in your field, and you have achieved the success that rivals them without spending so much time there.
No matter the reason, you should figure out what causes your imposter syndrome and work towards getting rid of it.
Talk to Other People About It
An excellent way to get rid of your imposter syndrome is to have someone to talk to. You can have a friend or even family members that can help you get confident whenever you start doubting yourself.
Sometimes, imposter syndrome comes up when someone has been isolated for a long time, and they don’t have that reassuring presence that they need.
You will do a lot better if you have a good social support network to help you with feelings of inadequacy.
Relive Some of Your Biggest Successes
Everyone has had some form of success in their lives. No matter who you are, you have had something that you can say you are proud of in your entire life. The key to getting rid of your imposter syndrome is to focus on those successes.
A huge reason why people get into the trap of feeling like an imposter is that they lose sight of what they have achieved in the past.
You didn’t get where you are by failing forward. There has to be some reason why you are where you are today, and you have to realize that this success wasn’t a fluke. Spend time thinking about all the successes you’ve had, and it will make you feel a lot more confident going forward.
Realize That Other People Don’t Know Everything
You should also realize that you aren’t the only one who feels like an imposter. Imposter syndrome is a relatively common thing in the professional world, and it will help you feel better when you realize some of the most brilliant people you’ve ever known had the same problem as you.
Use this factor to realize that you are more capable than you think, and that will cause your imposter syndrome to slowly disappear.
Visualize the Prize
Visualization is a critical component in sports psychology. However, when you apply it to your workplace, it becomes an even more powerful weapon in defeating all your mental enemies.
When you stay focused on the prize, you end up feeling a lot better about yourself and your skills.
Visualizing what you are trying to achieve will keep you motivated and on track. It will prevent you from being held back when imposter syndrome starts to creep in.
Give Yourself a Reward Periodically
Ultimately, the most important thing is to keep achieving. The achievements you have will slowly push your imposter syndrome back, and they will serve as a reminder of what you are capable of.
When you get these achievements, you need to reward yourself with something physical to prove your ability.
These rewards will serve as a reminder whenever the doubt starts to creep in, and you will be able to get back on track and finally get over your imposter syndrome.
What to Do About It
From stepping away for a moment to talking it out with a kid, here are seven answers to the question, “What are your most helpful tips for when you feel you’re feeling lost?”
- Take a Break
- Break It Down into Small Tasks
- Identify Your Gaps and Set Goals
- Use a List
- Embrace the Discomfort of the Unknown
- Speak With Someone
- Ask a Young Child
Take a Break
It helps to take a breather when everything around you becomes too much to handle. Learn how to step back and re-arrange your thoughts.
It helps clear your mind and realign your thoughts. Set short-term and long-term goals and assess if you are working towards them.
Break It Down into Small Tasks
When you feel you don’t want to work anymore, it’s challenging to stay motivated and productive. One effective way to keep working is to break down tasks into smaller, manageable steps.
Focus on completing one small task at a time and celebrate your progress along the way. Set realistic goals for yourself and prioritize your most important tasks. Take regular breaks to prevent burnout and maintain your focus.
Additionally, consider adjusting your work environment to increase motivation, such as changing your workspace, listening to music, or taking a short walk. It can also be helpful to remind yourself of the larger goals you are working towards and the impact your work will have.
Finally, consider reaching out to a supportive colleague or mentor for encouragement and accountability. Remember, it is natural to experience moments of low motivation, and by taking proactive steps to keep working, you can overcome these challenges and continue making progress toward your goals.
Identify Your Gaps and Set Goals
Imposter syndrome happens to the best of us and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Working with diverse groups of people can sometimes make you feel you’re behind or not sure what you’re doing.
A great place to start when you’re feeling lost is to identify where those feelings are coming from, what exactly you don’t understand, and what learning goals you can set for yourself to feel confident in the future.
The concept of “fake it until you make it” can seem like a safe space to lean into when you’re in the middle of skilling up, but I recommend trusting yourself and asking questions when you can.
No one has it all together, so trusting your instincts or asking for support when you need it may not be as scary as you think.
Use a List
Organization can be a helpful tool in getting back on track. If you’re feeling lost about how to handle a particular task, you can try listing out the steps that you remember.
Try making a list of the steps that you do understand and making bullet points where all the missing elements would be.
This will give you a better idea of where exactly in a process you’re becoming confused. You’ll be able to come up with specific questions that you can find the answers to through self-research or by asking specific questions of someone else.
You can use this strategy any time you’re feeling confused in order to gather your thoughts and figure out the best method to help ease your confusion.
Writing things out can be a powerful tool for getting back on track when you’re unsure.
Embrace the Discomfort of the Unknown
It is important to embrace the discomfort of the unknown and approach it as an opportunity to learn and grow.
By adopting a growth mindset and reframing the situation as a chance to improve yourself, you can overcome those feelings that overwhelm you and gain confidence in your abilities.
Moving forward, seek guidance and advice from others with more experience or expertise in the area, break down the problem into smaller steps to gain momentum, and remember that making mistakes is a natural part of the learning process.
Speak With Someone
Asking for help is underrated and underused in today’s world. Some people feel like they are too good to ask for help, or like it will look bad on them to seek out assistance.
And finding articles online that can provide assistance is not what I’m talking about. They can help, but they can’t be as helpful as talking with someone. Speaking with someone still provides the most amount of help for you to learn from.
Depending on what you are feeling lost with, it might lead you to ask for help from different people.
You might have someone in your network who specifically has experience with the space you’re looking for help in, or you might even just want a perspective from someone who can tell you what to do.
For example, a family member who knows you but doesn’t know the industry you work in can tell you what they think, which can be so helpful.
If you are feeling like you have no idea of what you’re doing in a specific space, I recommend you find someone to speak with.
Ask a Young Child
I have a young child who is old enough to know some words but not old enough to keep up a meaningful conversation.
When I feel like I don’t know what to do, I often ask him detailed questions about my situation and what he thinks the best course of action would be.
He has yet to give me a viable answer, but the act of verbalizing the problem and trying to explain it to somebody else is a great help. (This activity also works well with a pet, but I don’t have a dog.)
Sometimes, this little whimsical exercise is enough to get me refocused; it lets me see the problem with a fresh set of eyes.