How to Overcome Imposter Syndrome
Is there an area of your life where you feel like a fraud?
Maybe you find yourself feeling like you have to be perfect in order to convince people you’re worthy in that area.
Maybe you struggle with self-doubt and overthink every decision, just to make sure it’s the “right” one.
And any time you make a mistake or you receive negative feedback, it feels like a reminder of how you just aren’t “good enough” in that area.
This is known as imposter syndrome, and if you’ve experienced it, you know how paralysing it can be. It brings with it a constant buzz of anxiety, self-doubt, and perfectionism.
The good news is, it’s possible to overcome imposter syndrome. But first, let’s take a look at the mindset that informs these fears.
1. Understanding Imposter Syndrome
If you’re experiencing imposter syndrome, that’s a sign that you’re holding a fixed mindset in that area.
When we’re in a fixed mindset, we believe that success in that area is a matter of “I either have what it takes, or I don’t”. In this mindset, we believe that the ability in question is fixed and unchangeable.
That triggers imposter syndrome in the following ways:
Any criticism (whether it’s constructive or not) feels like a personal attack
Fear of failure becomes very intense
There’s a tendency to avoid trying new things in order to “play it safe”
After all, if we have a fixed amount of a certain ability, then criticism and failure serve no purpose except to remind us, painfully, of our inadequacies.
This leads us to want to play it safe, to avoid the pain of failure and avoid anything that might advertise our shortcomings to those around us.
So what can we do about it?
2. How to Overcome Imposter Syndrome
The opposite of the fixed mindset is the growth mindset.
While in a fixed mindset, ability is seen as fixed and permanent, shifting into a growth mindset means embracing your innate ability to change.
In a growth mindset, we believe that abilities are developed through effort, practice, and making adjustments to the way we do things.
This can help us to overcome imposter syndrome.
The growth mindset helps us to recognise that criticism and failure are a natural part of learning, rather than a sign of a personal limitation. We’re therefore less hurt by it and less anxious about it.
And because in a growth mindset we believe we can change, we also look for how we can change.
Rather than shying away from the experience because we think it’s shining a light on a painful part of ourselves, our response is, “I can do it better next time if I take this lesson into consideration.”
The next time you notice imposter syndrome coming up for you, gently remind yourself that the key is to shift into a growth mindset.
Remind yourself of your innate ability to change, that no negative experience represents your potential, and that the key is to learn.