How often have we wished we were someone else because their lives seem so much better than ours?
Or when have we caught ourselves feeling insecure at work because we’re unsure if we’re up to the daily challenges? No need to feel like a fraud or less-than because this is all just imposter syndrome at work.
Building emotional intelligence helps us get ahead on our career path, so today, I’ll tackle the big bad wolf of imposter syndrome with you.
If you prefer to watch, you can check out my video on how to overcome imposter syndrome.
First, let’s define it.
According to Harvard Business Review, imposter syndrome can be defined as a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success.
HBR also says sufferers experience “chronic self-doubt” and “a sense of intellectual fraudulence”. It’s a headache, and so many of us find ourselves dealing with it daily.
To give an example of how this can play out in real life, I’ll draw from my personal experience.
Growing up, I always wanted to be someone else. I didn’t feel adequate in my skin. This was imposter syndrome manifesting early, and it took a very long time to overcome it.
But eventually, I was able to shake the shackles of self-doubt, and I’d like to share how I did it with you. That way, you can be your unique self with full confidence, too.
Because we’ve all found ourselves looking at someone else presenting, communicating, or even wearing an incredible outfit and thinking: “I wish I could be like that.”
But we need to shift our mentalities because, at the end of the day, it’s all an illusion holding us back from being our best selves.
Here are several things I’ve done to overcome the kinds of intrusive thoughts and feelings that come with imposter syndrome:
1. Don’t believe everything you see on social media
Social media has exacerbated imposter syndrome for everyone. People’s lives often seem perfect on social media, and their accomplishments appear larger than life.
It can leave even the strongest of us feeling jealous or inadequate. But you should take what you see on social media with a grain of salt. Don’t get too caught up in someone else’s posts because, more often than not, they don’t show the whole story.
Remember, a photo or a video conveys one moment in time. No one’s life is perfect every minute of every day. No one posts the boring or low moments because who would want to convey that to an audience?
For example, someone may show off great travel photos, but you don’t know if they put themselves in debt to pay for the trip.
Or, someone may post scenes of a great time partying on the weekend, but you don’t know what the rest of the week is like for them.
If people portray themselves as happy on social media, be supportive, but remember that you don’t know their real lives.
They have struggles just like everyone else. (Trust me, we all struggle at least a little bit on a daily basis.)
There is a statement I’ve seen a few times on Facebook about how we buy things we don’t need, with money we don’t have, to impress people we don’t even like.
That sums up what social media is all about – people are looking to convince others (and themselves) that everything is perfect when it probably isn’t.
Once you see things through that lens, you’ll feel much better about yourself.
If you still grapple with the bombardment of envy-inducing posts, I’d recommend unfollowing or muting people.
It’s a perfectly acceptable thing to do if your mental health is suffering. It also might be a good idea to walk away from social media in general for a bit, but realistically I know that’s not possible for many of us in the digital age; many jobs require us to be online, so muting or unfollowing might be your best bet.
2. Learn to really love yourself
You can be self-critical, especially if it’s constructive and helps you improve, but never let yourself slide into the self-loathing territory.
Be aware of your strengths, as well as areas for improvement. Pat yourself on the back when you accomplish something, but more importantly, don’t beat yourself up when you make a mistake.
Acknowledging your mistakes and resolving to do better next time is a great practice as long as it’s done swiftly.
Then, with your head held high, you can move forward like a winner.
It took me a long time to shake the negative self-talk and really like myself.
When people complimented me, I would make self-deprecating jokes and brush off the compliments until someone told me to stop putting myself down and take the compliment. I agree with that wholeheartedly now.
Remember, we are all screw-ups to some extent. Just like what we see on social media, nobody is perfect a hundred percent of the time.
In the instances where you make an error, take a deep breath. It happens to every single one of us.
Learn to love yourself because how can anyone else if you don’t?
Check out this article from Within Health about radical self-love, which is choosing to love and accept yourself completely, even the parts you might consider flawed.
3. You need to EARN your confidence
I’ve realized that you need to be confident to overcome imposter syndrome. But confidence generally doesn’t come naturally to most of us. You need to earn it.
One way to gain confidence is to be very good at something people will ask you for advice about. I’m a big fan of YouTube tutorials for free knowledge expansion, but there are also great resources like Skillshare that can help you build your know-how.
When people respect and appreciate your recommendations and ideas, you’ll feel a major boost. That’s a great way to build confidence.
Becoming an independent consultant and a speaker has helped me tremendously to build my confidence over time.
My success in both areas was predicated on being knowledgeable in my field of work, so while you might not be at that level yet in your expertise, keep at it, and one day, you might be.
When I tell people I wasn’t usually one to speak up at any meetings and was very shy, no one could believe it.
I’ve become more confident by slowly building my B2B marketing expertise and know-how. It takes work, but sharing my insights with all of you is rewarding.
Once you have a skill set that you can use to help others, you’ll begin tapping into your full potential.
4. Never stop learning…and exercise, too!
Another way to overcome imposter syndrome is to enrich your mind and well-being through self-improvement. There are so many ways to go about this, but I’m a big believer in continuously learning new skills.
This also boosts your sense of job security; the more you know, the less dispensable you become in the workplace.
I also maintain my physical health through a balanced diet, adequate sleep, exercise, and more, which are best practices for anyone.
If you feel good about yourself mentally and physically, you’ll naturally feel more inclined to like yourself.
When you start liking yourself and have a unique skill set that you can call your own, you’ll start recognizing your worth. And if you recognize how good you are, you’ll want to be you, not someone else.
Bear in mind that imposter syndrome comes and goes. It will never completely disappear, but that’s just part of being human and alive.
There will always be moments when you are going to feel the other side of the grass is greener.
When you have those thoughts, you need to turn the “love yourself” switch on and tell yourself that you are worth it.
Don’t be too shy to say that out loud.
Do you have any other ways of coping with and overcoming imposter syndrome?
I’d love to hear your thoughts.
And if you have any further questions on how to overcome imposter syndrom, don’t hesitate to reach out on social media or email me.
If you prefer to listen, check out my podcast episode 4 Tips To Overcome Imposter Syndrome and Boost Your Career.