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Defining imposter syndrome and what to do about it

 Defining imposter syndrome and what to do about it (Photo: iStock)

Ever nailed a presentation, then spent the entire evening convinced everyone thinks you're a fake? You're not alone. This nagging feeling of self-doubt, despite your qualifications and accomplishments, is called Imposter Syndrome. It affects many high achievers, and it is a real buzzkill.

The strange thing about Imposter Syndrome is how isolating it feels. You might be surrounded by seemingly confident colleagues, while you're internally panicking about being "found out." But here's the secret: Imposter Syndrome is shockingly common, affecting an estimated 70% of successful people at some point.

So, why does this happen? 

First of all, societal messages play a role, creating a sense that you shouldn't be ambitious or successful in certain fields. Secondly, upbringings that preach perfectionism or downplay achievements can also fuel those imposter feelings.

Fear of failure is a big one too – the worry that any misstep will expose you as a fraud. And let's not forget the comparison trap; scrolling through social media or seeing colleagues seemingly nail everything can make you feel like you're falling short.

Imposter syndrome can hold you back in serious ways. It might make you shy away from opportunities you deserve or downplay your skills in interviews. The constant pressure to be perfect can stifle creativity and lead to burnout. The good news? You don't have to let Imposter Syndrome be your boss.

What to do about it

Here's how to fight back. First, challenge that inner critic, that voice that’s always nagging inside your head. When those negative thoughts creep in, fire back with evidence of your skills and accomplishments. Did you ace that project? Remind yourself! 

Next, reframe failure. See setbacks as learning experiences, not proof of inadequacy. Everyone makes mistakes; it's how you learn and grow from them that matters. 

Now, focus on your strengths. Make a list of your skills and experiences. Regularly remind yourself of what you bring to the table. Did you lead a successful team?  Acknowledge your leadership skills!

Celebrating your wins, big or small, is crucial. Taking the time to appreciate your achievements can be a powerful way to combat Imposter Syndrome.

Surrounding yourself with a supportive network is key. Find people who believe in you and will challenge your negative self-talk.

Finally, practice self-compassion. We all make mistakes, and it's okay not to know everything. Cut yourself some slack!

Remember, Imposter Syndrome is a feeling, not a fact. It doesn't define you. Focus on progress, not perfection. You are worthy, your accomplishments are real, and you deserve the success you've earned. Don't let Imposter Syndrome hold you back!

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