How to deal with imposter syndrome
It’s estimated 70% of people will suffer from it at some point on their lives. It might make that voice inside your head say you're not good enough for the job, or that you 'just got lucky'. Yep, it's imposter syndrome. But what exactly is it, and how do you deal with it? We caught up with mindfulness Urban pro Alexandra to find out the different types of ‘imposter’ and how to reframe your outlook.
Have you ever thought you got lucky in an exam, got a job because you exaggerated your ability, or that you’re not worthy of the praise you receive? Chances are you’re experiencing a form of imposter syndrome.
A common misconception, imposter syndrome is not just for the shy, meek or anxious – it can affect anyone.
In fact, people who struggle with imposter syndrome are in extremely good company – Albert Einstein, Maya Angelou, John Steinbeck, Sheryl Sandberg and many more have all presented signs of imposter syndrome.
Despite its name, imposter syndrome isn’t a disease or abnormality, and isn’t necessarily tied to depression, anxiety or self-esteem. It’s a feeling, an experience and a belief that can be hard to shake.
Valerie Young, a leading imposter syndrome expert, identified and described the following five different “types of imposters”:
The Perfectionist’s primary focus is on “how” something is done — and one minor flaw in an otherwise stellar performance is not enough.
This is the knowledge version of the perfectionist. The expert expects to know everything; even a minor lack of knowledge is a failure.
Cares about who completes the task, and feels like it needs to be them alone. Needing help is a sign of defeat in their eyes.
The natural genius
For the natural genius, competence is measured in terms of ease and speed. Struggling to master a subject or skill or not succeeding on the first try feels like failure.
Falling short in any role – as a parent, partner, in the home or at work – all evoke shame because these people feel they should be able to handle it all perfectly and easily.
Reframing the way you think and using mindfulness practices can be a useful tool in dealing with common forms of imposter syndrome. Try these tips:
Recognise that just because you think something, doesn’t mean it’s true.
You’ll have about 70,000 thoughts a day and over 80% of these are old, repeated, thoughts. So you might still be carrying a belief from something a teacher said to you when you were 5 and take it as the truth.
So become aware of when doubt, limiting, nasty critical thoughts enter your mind.
Name the critic and give your imposter syndrome a character
What does it look like, sound like, how does it talk to you? When the critical voice arises, you can say to yourself: ‘Ah, there goes Minerva again.’
Challenge the critic by owning your success
Make a list of all the reasons why the critic is wrong, over exaggerating, being unkind, ignoring your wins.
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