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Tips for managing the Impostor Syndrome

“I have written eleven books, but each time I think, ‘Uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.’”
Award-winning author Maya Angelou

“At any time I still expect that the no-talent police will come and arrest me.”
Actor Mike Myers

“[I would] wake up in the morning before going off to a shoot, and think, I can’t do this; I’m a fraud.”
Actor Kate Winslet

In her book ‘The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women’, Dr Valerie Young argues that the Impostor Syndrome is more common in successful women than men. However, it is common to talk to both successful men and women who experience this self limiting belief.

So what is the Impostor Syndrome?
The term ‘Impostor Syndrome’ was first developed by Clinical Psychologists Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes in 1978. It refers to the psychological process whereby individuals are unable to internalise, own or take credit for their accomplishments. Instead, they remain convinced that their successes are the result of good luck, good timing, or even their ability to trick people into thinking that they are more intelligent and competent than they really are.  

How do I know if this describes me?

Can you answer ‘Yes’ to one or more of the following questions:

• Do you believe that your successes in life are down to luck, fate, or timing?
• Do you sit in meetings with colleagues or peers and feel you don’t belong?
• Do you think that everyone around you knows what they are doing, whilst you are making it up as you go along?
• Do you feel like a fraud, like it is only a matter of time before you are ‘found out’?

If you can identify with the above, then the chances are you are experiencing the Impostor Syndrome!

What can I do about it?

Below are some tips which might help you to overcome ‘fraudulent’ feelings:

• Talk about it. Speak to a friend, colleague, manager or a Life Coach about your feelings. The likelihood is that they will have experienced something similar. Expressing your fears and finding out you are not alone can be incredibly liberating.
• Develop your awareness. Think about when you feel like an impostor. Is it amongst a certain group at work, a team, on a particular project? Sometimes, feeling like an impostor can teach you a lot about yourself and your reactions to certain situations.
• Look for evidence. Are there any real, hard facts that substantiate your negative thoughts and beliefs?
• Be fair. Making mistakes is inevitable, forgive yourself, learn from it and move forwards.
• Acknowledge genuine successes. Try breaking the routine of dismissing your successes by taking the time to celebrate when things have gone well. You will know the best reward that works for you.

The above quotations are taken from Dr Valerie Young’s website, you can view more by clicking here.

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