How to Get Rid of Imposter Syndrome

by Oluwatomiwa Ayobamidele

At one point or the other in your life, there’s a likelihood you’ve felt unworthy, undeserving of a reward, honor, or recognition, but this becomes a problem when that feeling of self-doubt is persistent. Imposter syndrome is not a mental illness as many think it is and getting rid of imposter syndrome is never a big deal.

In this article, you will understand better what imposter syndrome entails and how to overcome imposter syndrome.

Imposter syndrome is simply the persistence in your feeling of self-doubt about your capabilities, the feeling that demoralizes your emotional well-being and your performance, and the belief that you are not competent enough as others perceive you to be. 

Life is a moving circle of good and bad times, sad and happy moments, and bitter and sweet events that revolve around one’s life. There is no permanent position but how we confront life challenges and come out strong and even stronger makes the journey either fun or boring and interesting to tell others.

So, relax and see this as just one of life’s challenges that you have to overcome. 

A study has revealed that 70% of all people have felt like a phony at one point and this syndrome often affects highly capable individuals both male and female. In fact, some of the world’s renowned personalities and icons like scientist Albert Einstein, singer Jennifer Lopez, athlete Selena Williams, Maya Angelou, Michelle Obama, and actors Lupita Nyong’O, Natalie Portman, and Tom Hanks have been reported to have felt this way before.

Imposter syndrome is not a mental illness but psychologists have realized that this feeling can lead to depression and anxiety. 

Signs of Imposter Syndrome 

These are signs that you may have noticed in yourself or someone else and they include;

  • Feelings that you do not merit the reward, honor, or recognition given to you as a result of your achievement. You feel you do not deserve it at all.
  • A belief that everything you’ve achieved was by luck, other people’s help, or networking and never based on your abilities.
  • Extremely low self-esteem such that you downplay your abilities even when it’s so obvious to you that you are intelligent and skillful.

Read also: Why low self esteem is ruining you and how to overcome low self esteem.

Causes of Imposter Syndrome

Many people wonder what could be the cause of imposter syndrome since it’s not a mental illness that develops through different means and then erupts through triggers. 

You should know that imposter syndrome is a serious form of self-doubt. Some of the causes are:

  1. Family background

Most individuals who have this syndrome grew up in families that are so profound about achievements and because you want to impress your parents most especially, you end up developing this syndrome.

Read also: How to overcome childhood trauma.

  1. Pressure from work

Some other people were affected at work by pressure to succeed and achieve because they think that’s the only way to “belong”.

  1. Personality traits 

Another cause has been linked to personality traits by experts such as low self-efficacy, perfectionistic inclinations, high degree of neuroticism, and low degree of conscientiousness.

Types of Imposter Syndrome

  1. The perfectionist

You are the kind of person who believes everything should be done better and by yourself alone. Your perfectionist trait makes you believe that you are not as good as others might think you are. Always setting high goals for yourself and even when such goals have been achieved, you still don’t believe them to be good enough.

The truth is there can never be a perfect score or 100% work done but you will never agree with that because you can’t embrace failure.

  1. The Natural Genius

You don’t see yourself as intelligent naturally so you feel you are not competent enough. Whenever you see pros in your field, you immediately say to yourself “why am I not in this stage yet?”  You question your ability even in your present status so, whenever you don’t get something right the first time, you feel like an imposter.

  1. The Expert

Each time you are to prepare for a presentation or exam, you are never satisfied with what you know. You are always seeking more knowledge, experience, and awards because you feel you don’t know well enough about a particular topic. You are always striving to please others because you feel you have not attained the rank of an expert. 

  1. The soloist

You believe you don’t need anyone to achieve anything so when you could not get something done on your own, you question your competence or abilities.

  1. The Super person

You believe that you must be the hardest and smartest worker or student in your school who should attain the highest level of achievement possible so you sacrifice your hobbies and passion just to get attention and if you don’t, you feel like an imposter and a fraud.

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How to Get Rid of Imposter Syndrome

  1. Acknowledge your feelings

You need to acknowledge your feelings first. Be open to someone, sharing your feelings with a trusted friend or mentor will aid your healing as well as lessen your overwhelmed feeling.

  1. Accept your weaknesses and failures 

Learn to own your mistakes and push yourself to complete a project you’ve been working on for a very long time. You need to accept your failures and never expect to always have 100% work done. Embrace being non-perfect with positive affirmations “it’s alright to be 80% done and not 100% perfect.”

Learn to accept constructive criticism personally, not seriously. 

  1. Learn to ask for help

Don’t try to put all the work on your head. Be flexible enough to rest, and allow others to help you. Nobody is an island of knowledge, accomplishing great things involves lifelong learning and skills building, even the most confident people. See yourself as a work in progress, rather than beating yourself up when you couldn’t achieve your goals. Ask for help when you need it. It’s never a shame to show weakness and ask for help. Somebody might know the solution to the problem you are solving.

Read also: 10 Reasons why self-care is important. 

  1. Have a growth mindset

Persistent practice makes you perfect. After acquiring your skills and knowledge, brood on them and put them into action. You shouldn’t feel inexperienced or oblivious when you know better. Sharing your understanding helps you get better at it as it benefits others intellectually.

Cultivate a growth mindset that will help improve your abilities, skills, and talents. Experts should learn to focus on one knowledge/skill. There’s no end to knowledge but it’s imperative to focus on what’s needed and what’s not needed.

  1. Don’t work to please others

Stop trying to astound others and start doing well for yourself. Being a superwoman/man can drain you because of too much responsibility. Stop being people-pleasing.  This is one good way to get rid of imposter syndrome.

  1. Celebrate your wins

Another way to get rid of imposter syndrome is to celebrate your little wins and you can as well as keep a success file of your achievements. Appreciate yourself too just as others do. Avoid comparing yourself to others, instead build connections with them. Learn from them.

Conclusion

Feelings of imposter syndrome can come to anyone any time, but what matters most is how you handle it.  I’m sure the tips in this article if put to use will help you get rid of imposter syndrome whenever it shows up.

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About Author

Avatar of Oluwatomiwa Ayobamidele
Oluwatomiwa Ayobamidele
Oluwatomiwa is a content writer, budding UX writer, mental health advocate, and veterinary medical student interested in inspiring young minds to live healthy physically and mentally. When he's not writing, he's busy executing projects as a serial volunteer, reading books (mostly financial and self-development), and seeing a movie

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