In my last blog post 5 ways Imposter Syndrome shows up at work I talked about Imposter Syndrome and how it can manifest at work. Today, I am going to delve a little bit deeper into the ways in which you can either rid yourself of Imposter Syndrome or manage it so it doesn’t overtake your life
What is imposter syndrome again?
It’s a feeling that you’re actually a fraud and that any moment you will be “found out”, despite all the evidence to the contrary. The feeling of being an imposter can be so strong that sufferers spend years adding to their qualifications or overworking in a bid to feel more like they are deserving of the credit that they are given. Problem is, they never do, because it turns out it was never about the qualifications or the hard work but an inner self doubt that was holding them back.
Around 70% of people have been found to have found to have some degree of imposter syndrome, so most people reading this will be able to relate.
How does it show up at work?
The focus of this post is some exercises you can do to overcome Imposter Syndrome. But as ever, the first step to healing something is recognising you have a problem and that it is not helpful to be feeling this way. So, here’s just a quick recap on the ways it can manifest at work:
- Overworking – working long hours, more than is necessary to do an adequate job. Not because of workload, this is self imposed, if you’re honest.
- Perfectionism – the theory here is if you don’t get it 100% right, you’ll get found out. This also rears its head in being unable to take on compliments and being absolutely devastated by the tiniest of criticism
- Procrastination and avoidance – so you may be working really hard and long hours but you also may be avoiding the difficult stuff. The fear of getting something wrong creates a fear of starting it at all.
- Martyrdom / Superwoman syndrome – We all know the person that has to prove that they’re working harder than everyone else and wears the busy badge of honour with pride. This is rooted in an inability to ask for help.
- Just one more course / qualification –This is isn’t about self-improvement from a place of self compassion, this is when the need to do more is coming from a place of feeling like you are not good enough right now and a place of fear.
Taming your Imposter
Here are some simple exercises you can use to tame your imposter. Try just one that speaks to you or try all four if you’re really feeling like you need it.
Exercise 1: What’s the evidence
- Sit down with a pen, paper and no other distractions
- Gather all the evidence you can that you are NOT an imposter by writing down ALL the achievements in your life
- Now go back and add in some more. You forgot your swimming badges when you were a kid didn’t you? Add them in!
- Review the list and think about what it says about you – do you see any patterns? Does it highlight your strengths? How do those strengths support you now in whatever it is you are doubting yourself about?
- Write some “I am… “ statements based on what you have found. e.g. I am a strong leader, I am motivated by helping others, I am able to create momentum on projects – whatever comes up for you.
Exercise 2: Ask a friend
Well, actually ask 5 friends or colleagues that you completely trust, to complete a survey about you (think 360 degree feedback at work). Ask them:-
- 1 word or phrase that describes me best
- What do you think is my greatest achievement?
- What do you value most about me?
- What one thing could I change for my own benefit?
- What do you believe to be my greatest strength?
And actually take on board what they say. If you can, have the conversation face to face (I can already feel you squirming) as its important for you to recognise what they are saying is genuine. Now think about how you can hold onto all this good stuff people think and say about you.
Exercise 3: The Positivity Pocketbook
I know you’re already letting all that good stuff from exercise 2 float away or as one client of mine describes it – getting your hot potato compliment from thrown at you from another person and chucking it away straight away before it burns you. Well, sorry, I am going to make you hold onto it a bit longer.
The Positivity Pocketbook is somewhere where you write down the nice things people have said about you, the thank you’s you have received and the compliments that you struggle to hold onto.
In those moments of self doubt that you will inevitably have, I want you to pull out your pocket book and remind yourself of how great you are (this is not big headed, this is things OTHER people have said to you!)
Exercise 4: Let go of Perfect
I know you’re squirming at this one. Being perfect is all you have ever known right? So, what I am tasking you to do is do one thing this week deliberately imperfectly. Use the 80/20 rule and make it just good enough.
Afterwards, reflect on what that did for you – was it still good enough? Did the sky fall in? Did it actually give you some time back?
The purpose of this exercise is to help to put perfectionism into perspective. What does it give you but what does it also take from you?
Want more help?
If you find these exercises useful (or even if you don’t), there are lots of other ways I can help you unpack your Imposter Syndrome once and for all and send her on her merry way. Follow me on Instagram where I share more hints and tips OR book in a free discovery call to find out more about how I can help you get rid of your Imposter Syndrome and start feeling like you can be you again at work!