If you've ever felt like you were a phony or fraud and like it was only a matter of time before someone figured you out, you've likely experienced imposter syndrome. Imposter syndrome is when you're constantly doubting yourself in your job and believe that one day, someone will expose you. This is despite plenty of evidence proving that you aren't an imposter and that you've earned your position.
I've definitely experienced bouts of imposter syndrome, especially when I'm feeling overwhelmed and burnt out. Although imposter syndrome may not be easy to shake, no matter how successful you are, there are ways to overcome it. Here are six ways I conquer my self-doubt and become productive once again.
1. Reprogram how you feel about yourself.
We all know how that voice in our heads sound when it tells us to start doubting ourselves. We tend to think thoughts like, "I'm not good enough.", "It was just luck.", and "Anyone could've done that."
If you're always telling yourself that you're not good enough or that you don't deserve anything, then you'll never feel worthy of anything life gives you. Your thoughts reflect on how you feel and what you get. If you say negative language to yourself often enough, you will start performing in a way that hinders you, possibly hurting your career and furthering your illusions.
Instead, think and say positive thoughts and reinforce them by looking at your accomplishments. It sounds silly and even childish, but it works. I keep photos of when I was younger to remind me of how far I've come in regards to my fear of flying. Whether it's photos, souvenirs, or diplomas, find what works for you.
2. Know that you're not alone.
Everyone feels like an imposter from time to time. Like you, they think that the next person is doing better than them. Oftentimes they don't share how they feel because they're worried that the person they're confiding in will somehow prove that they're a fraud.
Even successful famous people have struggled with accepting their praise and success. Knowing that you're not alone is an uplifting revelation.
3. Own your achievements.
It's hard to accept praise for your accomplishments when you feel like you didn't deserve it, that you were just lucky, or worse, that anyone could've done exactly what you did. However, that's not true. You did the task the only way you could have done it and applied your unique knowledge and skills.
I've learned that lessons in life come full circle and regardless of how menial something was, somehow it comes back. I've learned to recognize the lessons from my past to apply to the present. It isn't easy but reflection and meditation can help you get in the right head space.
4. Know the value you provide.
It's hard to feel like you don't deserve the things you accomplished when you realize how much value you provided in someone's life. Even if you think that you're not worthy of admiration, that's not how the person you helped feels.
If your clients always tell you how much they love your work and how much it helped them, accept it. You may have positively affected them in several ways - not something that should be taken lightly. I love hearing how something I wrote about helped someone, even though at the time I felt anxious about it.
When you can look at what you do as more than just work, you can start to see how you're impacting lives.
5. Talk to someone about it.
You don't have to deal with this by yourself. Talk to someone you trust. If you feel like you're writing is subpar, talk to another writer. Ask for advice or suggestions.
Alternatively, you can find a career counselor or support group online. I personally like chatting to people through social media. I find that exchanging ideas helps us realize that the feelings we have are more common than we think.
6. Stop comparing yourself to others.
Alternatively, media can leave feeling worse as we compare ourselves to others. The truth is that someone will likely be better. However, that's okay. Instead of using that to make you feel bad, use their work to better yours.
I use other people's work as motivation to be better, learn more, and to open up my perspective. Oftentimes, just talking to someone about it without comparisons can work wonders. It's not always easy but it does help.