Unmasking Imposter Syndrome: 3 Tricks to Overcome Self Doubt

Imposter syndrome is a pervasive challenge that affects all walks of life. Grant yourself grace, understanding, self-compassion, and learn these techniques to help break free!

As you would imagine, writing a blog on imposter syndrome is as difficult as you’d think. I’m sitting here with four other Google Docs open, struggling to weave it all together. I’m wondering while I stare and reread all of my jotted-down thoughts…Is this even a relevant topic to write about? My teammates have created clever and engaging blogs, and they’re going to read this and think mine is incredibly dumb. Will I even sound relatable or somewhat educated? 

I spiral. I swirl in the land of self-doubt while I take small breaks to pick my cuticles and mentally kick myself for not researching a better topic at the eleventh hour. Anddddd in a funny but full circle moment, while I’m finding it difficult to articulate my thoughts into a blog that will make people feel like they’re not alone, I’m struggling to put into words the exact topic I’m writing about: imposter syndrome in the workplace.

What Is Imposter Syndrome?

Have you ever asked yourself, “What gives me the right to be here?” Or, have you looked at your teammates and felt as if everyone around was more deserving than you, more accomplished? Maybe you’ve felt inadequate and not good enough. Then, like myself, you’re probably suffering from imposter syndrome. Psychology Today tells us that “People who struggle with imposter syndrome believe that they are undeserving of their achievements and the high esteem in which they are, in fact, generally held. They feel that they aren’t as competent or intelligent as others might think — and that soon enough, people will discover the truth about them.”

What Gives Me The Right To Write About This?

Folks, the reason I’m the expert in this, *looks down at all my torn-up cuticles*, is because this is my biggest struggle! Have you seen the absolute DREAM team I work with? Have you seen the content this team has churned out?! Are you watching the LinkedIn feeds? Are you seeing the awards our team is winning? I am enthralled by my teammates daily. But inevitably, even asking those above questions and working alongside some of my wildly creative and intelligent colleagues creates self-doubt that I’m unworthy even to claim to be part of all those achievements. Watching on makes me feel both insanely proud yet incredibly inadequate.  

While I have to work hard to change that narrative, let’s discuss three tricks that have worked for me that I use each day. These three things change my mindset, humanize those around me, and help kick me back into a realistic frame of mind to feel like I do belong.

Trick #1: Challenge Negative Self-Talk

Negative self-talk is a significant and large contributor to the perpetual cycle of imposter syndrome. When you tell yourself things such as, I’m a fraud, and I don’t belong here, you’re unknowingly manifesting self-doubt and self-deprecation.

In order to combat this, you have to reframe your thinking. Replace your negative self-talk with positive and realistic thoughts. For example, instead of telling yourself you’re a fraud, take a moment to challenge that with a positive mantra. Repeat to yourself, I am capable, and I deserve success, or I am worthy because I have worked hard. Add in realistic thoughts and remember why they hired you. Remember why you were chosen out of all the other applicants for this role. This practice will take a while to remember over time, but the more that you challenge negative self-talk, the easier it will be to keep yourself in a positive, realistic headspace.

Trick #2: Embrace Failure and Mistakes 

Failure is an integral part of life and everyone makes mistakes. Yet, for people who are grappling with imposter syndrome, the fear of failure and the shame associated with it can be paralyzing. Excessive self-blame hinders you from realizing your full potential. When you’re operating in a fear-based mindset, you continually acknowledge only your shortcomings.

To better embrace failure, recognize that it is a normal part of life and even the most accomplished individuals have faced setbacks. Take a moment to take a step back and reflect on what went wrong and what you can learn. Perfection is an unattainable goal, and ultimately, you can extract lessons from your experiences, even when negative. This is just a part of life, and it’s essential for personal growth. 

Trick #3: Celebrate Your Accomplishments

All too often, when struggling with imposter syndrome, we’re quick to push aside accolades and compliments. We downplay our achievements and attribute them to luck or external factors. When someone gives us a compliment and tries to celebrate us, we are unable to accept it. Not only does that diminish the very person who gave us the compliment in the first place, but it erodes our self-esteem and negatively reinforces that we’re unworthy of such achievements.

Celebrate your accomplishments and successes, no matter how small they may seem. Take that compliment, even if it’s difficult to digest. This can serve as motivation for future endeavors and can help encourage you to set and achieve new goals. Reward yourself or tell trusted friends and family and allow them to celebrate with you, thus providing you with positive reinforcement.

… And Gosh Darn It, People Like Me

Imposter syndrome is a pervasive challenge that affects all walks of life. It diminishes our self-confidence, overshadows our achievements, and makes us feel as if we’re the weakest link of our company. Through challenging negative self-talk, embracing failure and mistakes, and celebrating your accomplishments, imposter syndrome can be conquered — or, at the very least, feel a little easier. Grant yourself grace, understanding, self-compassion, and these techniques to help break free from the shackles of imposter syndrome.