10 ways to manage imposter syndrome

I have shared about my own struggles a little bit around Imposter Syndrome. This article by By Ian Child, author of ‘Your Own Personal Time Machine’ is really helpful and useful, and I hope it’s helpful if you are struggling or know someone who is.

imposter syndrome

Imposter Syndrome is a persistent inability to believe that your success is deserved or has
been legitimately achieved due to your own efforts or skills. Sufferers feel like one day
someone is going to tap them on the shoulder and tell them they’ve been rumbled.

Symptoms include:
– Thinking that your peers are more capable than you are
– Crediting luck for any success you may have
– Fear of being seen as a failure
– Feeling that overworking is the only way to meet expectations
– Feeling unworthy of attention or affection
– Not asking questions in meetings or lectures (or in the classroom)
– Downplaying your accomplishments

But Imposter Syndrome only exists in your head.

No one is about to tap you on the shoulder, and the irony is that genuine imposters don’t suffer from Imposter Syndrome.

So, what can you do? Here are my top ten Imposter Syndrome coping strategies:

  1. Realise you’re not the only sufferer. For some reason, we fail to acknowledge that other people feel exactly the same as we do.Social media is an excellent example – everyone presents an airbrushed view of themselves to the world, and the only warts-and-all view of somebody we ever get is of ourselves. We know all too well that underneath our carefully polished social media accounts there lies a person who has had their fair share of failures and screw-ups. It’s the same for everyone else.
  2. Make a note of your accomplishments. Create a list that you can refer to when you have moments of doubt, one that reminds you of how great you are and that other people think you’re great too. This may seem simplistic, but many sufferers swear by it as it helps reframe their minds and evaporate those less helpful thoughts.
  3. Don’t compare yourself to others. We usually totally overestimate how skilful or successful other people are. The reality is that everyone else feels just as insecure as you do. There’s a great quote by the ladies’ fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg, who said: “You always look at the woman across the room and you think the woman across the room is so confident, so poised and so put together,
    and so on. But that woman is looking at YOU. And for her, YOU are the woman across the room. Everybody’s the same. It’s just a big waste of time to be insecure.”
  4. Talk to others. This can give you more confidence and help you see that your thoughts are irrational – particularly when you talk to someone you believe has a good opinion of you. Don’t be afraid to share your feelings about Imposter Syndrome with others – you may find they’re experiencing the same issues as you.
  5. Don’t get stuck in a cycle of ‘I can’t do this’. Those fraudulent feelings can all too easily prevent you from taking action, and as a result, you won’t apply for that job or take up a hobby or sport. Success in anything only exist outside your comfort zone, so you need to take action – feel the fear and do it anyway. As your comfort zone expands, have confidence in the fact that your levels of anxiety will reduce automatically.
  6. Celebrate your successes. Most of the time, many of us are not very good at celebrating our successes. Celebrating success helps dispel thoughts that we’re undeserving and gives us confidence in our abilities. Also, make a point of celebrating both large and small wins. Imposter Syndrome sufferers tend to move on too quickly and treat wins with relief rather than celebrating them.
  7. Stop being a perfectionist If perfection is 100%, you must stop thinking that only doing a job to 99% is a failure. Appreciate that other people may only be capable of doing the same job to 70%, so achieving 80% will be good enough, and 90% will be better than most. It’s not about lowering the bar – it’s simply reframing how well you’ve done and what you’ve achieved. Also, most jobs don’t need to be done to 100%. Perfectionists can spend the same time again getting a job from 80% to 100%, whereas they could have used that time to do a second task to 80% and get much more done.
  8. Share your failures We often see other people’s successes but not their flops, whereas we always see our own failures. This gives us a poor perspective and makes us think of ourselves as being less capable in comparison. Opening up with others can help demonstrate that you’re no different and that everyone has the same issues as you do. It can take a leap of faith, after all, we’re not naturally predisposed to want to share our shortcomings, but the fruits can be well worth the labour. Ironically, it can often be easier to open up to strangers than those who know you well.
  9. Reframe failure as a positive Failure is not a sign of being rubbish – it’s a sign that you’re trying to achieve something, and you need to give yourself credit for this. It’s not easy to succeed the first time out – ask any billionaire or successful inventor. But one thing is certain, if you never try, you’ll never fail, and you’ll never become successful.
  10. Reframe your position Fear can often be the prevailing emotion when it comes to Imposter Syndrome, but you need to put it back in its box and look at the situation through a different lens. Instead of thinking, “just wait until they find out I don’t know what I’m doing” what about changing this to, “I may not know all the answers, but I’m smart enough to figure them out”? It’s a far more empowering way of looking at your situation. Too often, Imposter Syndrome holds people back from achieving their full potential, but recognising it for what it is, is a huge step towards fixing it.

Ian Child is a former corporate leader, co-founder of the training company property CEO
(propertyceo.co.uk) and the author of ‘Your Own Personal Time Machine’, a guide to getting your life back, available exclusively from amazon.co.uk. in paperback and e-book

We have one copy of this book to giveaway to a reader on our blog. So if you would like to get your hands on a copy all you need to do is comment on this post, sharing why you would like to win a copy, then click on the link below to continue your entry.

Win a copy of Ian Child’s book – Your Own Personal Time Machine: Get Your Life Back

Good luck, it’s a great book and definitely worth reading.

A winner will be chosen on the 31st May 2023 and contacted by email.

Posted in Mental Health, Mental Health Guest posts and tagged Ian Child, imposter syndrome, Mental health.