Imposter syndrome is that little voice in your head that always reminds you at the worst possible moment that you are “not competent enough”: it prevents you from daring to launch yourself into the career of your dreams, to apply for that job you want, to ask for a raise… And even worse: when you succeed, this little voice makes you believe that it is by chance, that people misunderstand your value, and that they will soon realise that you are a fraud!
Do you want to silence that little voice that devalues you and pushes you to self-sabotage? Try these 3 keys:
INTEGRATE THE OBJECTIVE VISION OF OUTSIDE EYES: DARE TO ASK FOR FEEDBACK ON YOUR WORK
The difference between feeling like a fraud or a qualified professional often lies in the simple fact of being able to see yourself with eyes other than your own. But that’s the problem! When you have impostor syndrome, you want everything but feedback on your work. Because you’re sure it will be negative, just like your little self-deprecating voice tells you it will be.
You know what? Maybe it will be: sometimes you don’t do things perfectly. It’s called being human. It’s also called learning. Your challenge is to manage to play down criticism, to stop taking it personally and seeing it as a definitive seal on your professional worth. The limits of your achievements on a given job say nothing about you or what you can do next. It’s just a snapshot at the moment of how far you have to go to do things perfectly. So it’s nothing dramatic, and what’s more, the chances of it happening like this are slim: the scenario I described to you was the worst case scenario.
There is actually a 99 out of 100 chance that you will get positive feedback. Of course, your impostor syndrome will make you think that the person giving you the compliments is just trying to reassure you or that they have been fooled by your deception. But the more you ask for this kind of feedback, the more you’ll realise that it’s unlikely that everyone who compliments you is being duped or insincere. Eventually you will learn to see yourself through their eyes.
CREATE A “I ROCK” FILE
From positive feedback to positive feedback, from success to success, you will eventually accumulate evidence of your immense worth. That’s exactly what you need: objective, tangible evidence of your talent and achievements.
You are going to make a file, on your computer or in a nice notebook carefully chosen and always at hand (many people find it more effective to see something concrete: a box full of memories, a notebook, a scrapbook…), in which you are going to put everything that concretely testifies to your value, such as diplomas, thank-you e-mails from clients, positive reviews that you have printed, notes that you have taken after a moment of success, as in a diary of good memories.
This objective evidence is what you need to put in front of you every time the little self-critical voice starts telling you its eternal story that “you bad” and “you’re not going to make it”. When it starts to act up, show it the reality to remind it that it’s just a bunch of imaginary disaster scenarios: in real life, you rock.
STOP SELLING YOURSELF SHORT
Impostor syndrome manifests itself concretely when you have to negotiate a salary or a raise. You doubt your worth, so you’ll find it hard to ask to be paid what you’re really worth.
But the problem is not only that you lose money that you deserve: when you sell yourself short, it is a way of telling yourself and others around you that you are not worth much. It’s a way of reinforcing your limiting beliefs but also of making others believe that you have a good reason to underestimate yourself. In this way, you lock yourself into your own trap which prevents you from progressing.
Here’s an exercise: start thinking about why you should be paid more (get help from someone who sees you objectively!), write them down, and set a date when you can ask for a meeting to renegotiate your pay. What if you are refused a raise? It doesn’t necessarily mean that you didn’t deserve it, but that they can’t or won’t give it to you: nothing to do with you, everything to do with simple financial issues.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE: MOST COMPETENT PEOPLE HAVE IMPOSTOR SYNDROME
Studies even show that this syndrome is much more prevalent among the most qualified people. How is this possible? Simple: the more you learn, the more you realise how much you don’t know. And what has motivated you to learn and progress so far? Your awareness of not knowing enough. Competence and doubt about one’s competence are therefore closely linked. The impostor syndrome is therefore almost a sign that you are anything but an impostor!
My advice is to create a group of people with the same syndrome as you: team up, share your keys, take time to tell each other how you see each other. Why is this effective?
We are often better at helping others than we are at helping ourselves, especially when it comes to imposter syndrome. By creating a group, you will help and receive help.
You are in the company of people who really understand you, you can confide your doubts without fear.
You will realise that the impostor syndrome is not really based on anything, as you will see that most or all of the people in your group are great, so there is a good chance that you will be great too…