Imposter syndrome is a common, but seldom spoken fear that affects a lot of working men and women, regardless of whether they’re in business for themselves or in the employ of others. It’s a feeling of not belonging, a constant worry that others will uncover your ‘secret’ and realise you shouldn’t be where you are, as you don’t deserve it or have no right to have it. Imposter syndrome is a very real fear of being found out as a fraud.
It’s been a recognised syndrome since the early 1970’s and is often recognised as being prevalent in business women. It affects those in high positions of authority in the corporate world, those in male-dominated environments or industries that are considered more masculine, as well as mothers who work from home or are returning to work. However, men do also suffer from it too – the only difference is they don’t vocalise it as much, preferring instead, to keep it under wraps.
For the vast majority of women, it’s fuelled by self-doubt. They question their abilities, skills and even their ‘right’ to be in the position they are. It leads them to worry about their abilities to do the job they’re doing, so much so, that they keep themselves stuck, as they fear they’ll lose everything when they’re eventually found out.
So how can you help lessen the affect imposter syndrome has on you?
It’s more common than you realise
It’s important to understand, imposter syndrome is a common fear. It affects many people, regardless of their skillset, status or niche.
Learn to appreciate your achievements
As it’s driven by self-worth, it’s crucial that you take the time to acknowledge all your achievements. Celebrate your successes, look at your disappointment or failures as learning curves and appreciate every step of your journey.
See past the illusion
There are numerous people out there that seem to have achieved overnight success or who seem to have everything they want. However, it’s important that you realise, success doesn’t happen overnight. You don’t know what they had to go through, or for how long, before they reached this point in their career. Don’t make judgements based on how things look for them now.
Learn to love yourself – flaws and all
You’re made up of a unique combination of your skills, personality, values, beliefs and experiences – good and bad. There IS only one of you, you’re unique, so start to appreciate and love yourself for that.
Share your concerns with someone you trust
Share the fears and worries you have. Write them down in your journal or, if you want a more effective way of dealing with them, find someone you trust and share your concerns and feelings with them.
Imposter syndrome is a fear that can be beaten if more people start to talk about it. Women in successful positions need to start sharing their stories; what it took to get where they are today, how they felt, what worries and fears they had, whilst making their way to the top of their game. This will enable them to be not only seen but heard too, so younger women and those a few steps behind, can learn from these inspirational women – and learn to face their imposter syndrome fears head-on.
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