May 25, 2024

5 Imposter Syndrome Types: How to Identify & Challenge Yours

What to do if this is you: Try to learn to resist the lure of external validation as the measure by which you gauge your self-worth and draw healthy boundaries between your work and private time. You can find advice for setting boundaries on page 153.

Finding other ways to define your identity beyond “success”, through new hobbies or routines, is another good way to ease the pressure that comes with this kind of imposter syndrome.

Many people will find that they identify with several, or even all, of these forms of imposter syndrome. The good news is that the more “types” that speak to you, the more practical solutions for overcoming your imposter syndrome are unlocked. The “types” shouldn’t limit your approach to impostorism but offer a tailored guide to finding solutions.

How to overcome imposter syndrome

Just because it’s normal, doesn’t mean that we should all just accept imposter syndrome as part of our everyday lives, there are all sorts of things we can do to help ease the feelings around our own worth and ability.

1. Find the evidence

Very often we take our thoughts and feelings as fact without actually ever finding the evidence to support them. Very often, imposter syndrome can be tackled by taking a negative thought and asking yourself whether you have any physical evidence to believe that, or whether it’s just your mind playing tricks again.

You can also do the same with positive evidence, so take a thought linked to imposter syndrome and find evidence why this likely isn’t true.

2. Share your feelings

Sharing your impostor feelings with others can not only reduce loneliness but also open doors for others to share what they see in you and help reassure you that your beliefs are unfounded. If it’s related to work, you might want to pick a colleague you trust, or a friend in a similar industry who will understand. It could also be a professional who you choose to share with, from a therapist to a  careers coach, they will help you unpick your thought process.

3. Celebrate your successes

People who struggle with impostor feelings tend to brush off their successes, which only exacerbates the experience. If someone congratulates you, make a mental note of that (or even a physical note in your phone). Our brains are hardwired to remember the negative due to our inherent survival instinct, but we’re not as good as retaining the positive.

You might want to make an email folder of any praise you receive at work, so that when those imposter feelings arise, you can combat them with all the positive praise you’ve received that prove otherwise.

4. Let go of perfectionism

You don’t have to lower the bar, but adjusting your standards for success can make it easier to see and internalise your accomplishments. Focus on your progress rather than aiming for perfection, for example, and when you don’t meet your standards, try to remember that it’s likely that you expect more from yourself than anyone else.

5. Accept it

As you learn to work through imposter syndrome, it will probably interfere less with your wellbeing. But taming impostor feelings doesn’t mean they’ll never show up again. Many women experience them when they move jobs, return from maternity leave or the team around them changes. We’re always going to be faced with new experiences or roles, but recognising that you can have these feelings come up but still have progressed in helping free yourself from imposter syndrome can exist simultaneously, and remind yourself of the last time you felt like this and how you overcame it and now feel completely different about that past situation.

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