Incompetence, failure, and self-doubt are three characteristics that mark someone struggling with imposter syndrome. Imposter syndrome occurs when one questions their success and believes that they are not worthy of the position they hold. This is a common phenomenon that can be seen across generational lines and “regardless of age, education, experience or amount of awards received” (Brown, 2021). That being said, Brown 2021 has found the following:
In these challenging (and predominantly virtual) times, it’s an especially common syndrome for underrepresented people: people of color (Black, Indigenous, Asian, Latino) and the LGBT community. Additionally, people who work outside of the so-called mainstream 9-5 environment, such as entrepreneurs, also tend to experience this phenomenon.
How can people who are struggling overcome imposter syndrome and take ownership over their successes? The answer is not a quick fix and there are no magic words or mantras that can rewire one’s brain to break down feelings of imposter syndrome. However, there are five small steps that one can take to help overcome and minimize feelings of imposter syndrome.
First, find a supportive community to engage with that focuses on building an empowering, challenging, and uplifting environment (Brown, 2021). Also, find someone who serves as a stellar role model in a similar position or from the same walk of life and build a mentoring relationship with them. This way, when faced with obstacles, there is someone to turn to for advice and guidance.
Second, continue to learn and be open to new opportunities (Brown, 2021). It is important to never stop growing, looking for new ways of doing things, or expanding one’s skill set. Competence comes from practice and exploration.
Third, “redefine competence” (Brown, 2021). Many people hold the faulty view that competence is being good at everything. Instead, competence is being aware of one’s strengths and weaknesses and knowing how to utilize those strengths and delegate the weaknesses. Identify areas of strength so that those areas can be further built upon.
Fourth, do not allow the fear of failure or disappointment to be a setback. Learn from failure “instead of pushing mistakes under the rug” or placing blame (Brown, 2021). Everyone makes mistakes and these mistakes do not define the competency of a person. When problems arise, do not simply ask “why did that happen” but “how could it be different next time” utilizing “solution-focused thinking” (Brown, 2021).
Fifth, practice reflection instead of worrying (Brown, 2021). Figure out what the facts are and then analyze the issues free from judgement. Worrying “doesn’t solve anything” and will only waste time and cause anxiety (Brown, 2021).
I think it is safe to say that almost every single person has experienced the feelings of incompetence, failure, and self-doubt that accompany imposter syndrome. While imposter syndrome is an easy concept to understand and identify, it is very hard to overcome. Only by utilizing these five tips and through conscious effort, can one improve their self-confidence and minimize the adverse effects of imposter syndrome in their daily lives.
Brown, G. (2021, April 30). Council post: How to address and overcome imposter syndrome. Forbes. Retrieved September 24, 2021, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/2021/04/30/how-to-address-and-overcome-imposter-syndrome/?sh=47e9c4132f35.