I’m a failure. I can’t do it. I won’t be able to do it. They’re going to find out I can’t do it. I’m going to get fired.
Ring any bells?
It sounds like you have a classic case of ‘imposter syndrome’. Enough of these self-help books, I’m going to show you how to be rid of it in one short post, so that you can wake up tomorrow morning without any pre-work nerves.
So, let’s get started.
I’ve had a look online for tips to ‘beat’ imposter syndrome. Here are some of the things I found: “Visualise success”, “Break the silence”, “Lead with positivity”. Now, I’m not saying any of these suggestions are wrong, I just don’t think they’re very good.
They’re vague and they’re too obvious. I can guarantee you’ve already tried to be positive. And everyone visualises success. I’m sorry to say, but it takes more work than that.
The truth is, you can’t beat imposter syndrome. You can, however, make imposter syndrome more manageable by changing your perception.
You probably think of imposter syndrome as a negative entity; it makes us second-guess everything, it makes us insecure, and it makes us generally unhappy. And you have a right to feel like that because you genuinely feel these things.
Read all of that again, though. Can’t you see a pattern? It means you care. And what a great attribute to have.
Our personalities make us who we are, and it’s what makes us similar or different to those around us. If you’re often fearful about failing, being out of your depth, or being found out for being a fraud (particularly in a work environment), it means you’re very self-aware, someone who aims high, someone who wants to achieve things, someone who cares.
This is how you are. Your imposter syndrome is a direct response to your personality, to your behaviour, to your perception.
I’m not saying that you need to feel the suffocating feelings of imposter syndrome to achieve success. People can do this with, or without, imposter syndrome. The thing is: success looks different to everyone.
I told you at the start of this post that you can manage the intensity of imposter syndrome by changing your perception. That’s why I want you to read the following, and read it back to yourself as many times as you want:
If you care so deeply about something, it makes it pretty difficult to fail it. You could say, then, that failing is not an option.
If, for example, you care so much about not being a failure at work, you will naturally put in the work to not fail. I’m not a magician, though. I can’t exactly promise you that you will never be ‘dismissed’ or ‘let go’ at some point in your career.
As long as you know that you cared and did everything you could, you haven’t failed. Some things are out of your control, and some things are lessons learnt. You are trying to overachieve out of insecurity, and, as a result, things feel worse than they actually are.
The thing is, you don’t want to keep feeling like this. Imposter syndrome is deceitful, and that’s why you turn imposter syndrome from an enemy, to a friend.
Imposter syndrome is your brain’s way of telling you that it feels like it’s in danger. It’s you looking out for you – your brain just isn’t telling yourself the right thing, and you’re not listening properly. It’s your internal dialogue trying to tell you that you’re at risk, or that you’re going to be at risk, and that you should be worried.
When you think about it like that, then, it’s actually your brain trying to help you and ‘save’ you from, what feels like, a pending doom. That’s actually quite a nice thing.
The biggest task is knowing which one to listen to. If we always chose to listen to our intrusive, irrational, and fearful thoughts, we’d all be a mess. We appreciate what they’re trying to tell us, but most of the time, they’ve got it wrong, and the other part of us is setting things right.
You can’t erase imposter syndrome. There’s no magic trick. It’s simply a part of who you are.
But if you can see the difference between your brain suggesting that you need to be worried, instead of your brain insisting that you be worried, it becomes easier to manage.