Impostor syndrome is a psychological pattern in which a person doubts their skills or accomplishments and has a persistent fear of being exposed as a fraud or an impostor.
It is also known as impostorism or fraud syndrome and researchers believe that up to 70% of the population have experienced it at one point or another. In recent times, people have become more open about experiencing this syndrome and most times want to know if there are practical ways to overcome this feeling of being a fraud. But before that, if you are still not sure about if what you feel is impostor syndrome, here are some of the signs that you might be experiencing impostor syndrome.
- You feel that you owe your achievements to luck even though you earned them
- You are constantly reminding yourself that you are not good enough
- You find yourself lowering the value of your skills or talking down on yourself during conversations
- You find it hard to accept praise or compliments and brush them up with statements like “anybody could have done that”
- You apologise even when you’ve done nothing wrong
Now that you know how to identify this syndrome, here are 4 practical ways to deal with it
- Track your progress
When you monitor all the effort you put into getting things done, you subconsciously remind yourself that you don’t owe whatever you accomplish to dumb luck. It is even advisable to have a progress folder where you keep details of the progress and milestones you’ve made in your career. This folder could include your publications, deals, nominations, successful pitches etc.
Make sure you track your progress even down to the basic unit. If you have a website, check your site visits and note when you break a record. You deserve to be where you are today because you have worked for it and your progress folder is there to remind you if you ever start to forget.
- Visualize your success
A lot of athletes have admitted to using this trick to give themselves confidence before a game. Visualizing their team winning the game i) makes them give their best effort to make this vision a reality and ii) makes the eventual win real and deserving. The same can be applied when dealing with impostor syndrome.
Are you, as a developer, avoiding major competitions that could boost your career because you think your skills are not good enough for that competition? Well, begin to visualize yourself as the winner already. Now that you can see yourself as the winner, I guess the only way to give that vision a chance to become reality is to actually enter for that competition.
- Fake it till you make it
This is the oldest trick in the book but it works. You don’t think you deserve to be here? You are worried that you’ll be caught as a fraud? Well, be that fraud who is pretending to be a part of the room just like everyone else. Fake that confidence until it becomes real. Trust me, it works.
- Assume that everybody else is an impostor
This is the last one for a reason. When all other options have failed and you still feel like an impostor, simply assume that everyone else, just like you, is an impostor too. Convince yourself that all of you are simply there by luck. No one is better than the other and all of you are impostors trying not to get caught. It will make you feel better, even if it’s only temporary relief.
The most important thing to remember when dealing with impostor syndrome is to be kind to yourself. Even when you start to feel like an impostor, remember that it’s nothing to be ashamed of and you don’t need to feel the pressure to immediately overcome the feeling.
Also, remember to speak to and of yourself kindly. If you find yourself speaking down on you or your skill, pause and rephrase. It is also recommended that you practice repeating positive affirmations to yourself daily as psychologists have suggested that it helps deal with feelings of self doubt and negativity.