How to deal with Imposter syndrome: 6 useful tips

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How do you know if you have Imposter syndrome?

Think about your latest achievement at work or promotion. How did you react? Was it something like: "My achievements are simply good luck" or "I simply appeared in the right place at the right time"?

Do you sometimes think your achievements are fake? If yes, there's a high chance you've got the Imposter syndrome (IS).

Psychologists started talking about the Imposter phenomenon in the 70s. Back then, they came up with an Imposter syndrome definition: people's belief that their success is pure luck, not their achievement due to hard work. Those people also considered themselves as frauds who managed to fool everyone.

If you feel like you're experiencing the Imposter syndrome, you're not alone. Maya Angelou, David Bowie, Serena Williams, Natalie Portman, Tom Hanks, and many other celebrities have experienced that gnawing feeling at some point in their career. In fact, Imposter Syndrome is usually found among successful people who achieve professional heights. Real frauds and people that haven't gained much in their career simply wouldn't feel like that!

Good news is, you can handle and cure your IS on your own. In this post, we'll share some workable ways for overcoming Imposter syndrome with practical examples. 

1. Ask colleagues and friends about similar experience

What does imposter syndrome feel like? You feel like a fraud most of the time, take your accomplishments for granted, and never get satisfied with yourself. 

If you ever feel like that, you're not alone. Around 70% of people have experienced the same feeling. The frequency of experiencing the IS may vary from occasional to more frequent episodes.

Talking about your current emotional state helps you:

  • Let out your negative emotions and "digest" the stress

  • Improve communication with colleagues and friends

  • Lower the level of stress on a physical level

Next you feel like you don't deserve what you've achieved, give yourself a chance to talk the problem through with someone you can trust. Allow yourself to whine, complain, and express what you currently feel. Sharing your feelings with a trusted person helps you get reassured, feel support, and receive valuable advice.

2. Get a diary

An old proverb says: if you need a helping hand, you will find one at the end of your arm. Sometimes, the help is literally there. A diary can become your personal kind of therapy.

In fact, writing therapy is a proven and workable way to express your current feelings, get negative thoughts off your chest, and promote self-knowledge. Why is it so powerful? Because you stay face-to-face with a journal or a laptop and write down everything you've got on your mind, without criticism or somebody else's evaluation.

To make writing therapy engaging and productive, consider several simple tips:

  • Choose a convenient format that works best for you. You can make a personal online diary with a website builder or opt for a good old pen and paper. Listen to yourself and remove obstacles that stop you from writing.

  • Make it a pleasant ritual. Some people like to make it a morning routine with a cup of coffee. Others prefer to destress after a long tiring day in the evening. Personalizing and decorating your diary, beautiful stationary, and neat workplace can also add positive emotions to your writing sessions.

  • Make it your routine. Consistency is a key to relaxation, cultivating confidence, and exploring your inner self. If you feel like writing therapy brings you first positive results, continue journaling to reinforce the therapeutic process.

For digital lovers out there, we recommend a Diarly app from our Setapp subscription. Diarly offers great formatting opportunities, including markdown, so you can choose whatever themes, fonts, and backgrounds you like. The app encrypts and secures the notes, so don't worry about intruders. 

Diarly app

3. Make a list of your qualifications and skills

Some people love to share updates from their lives publicly. Their friends find out first about their promotions, colleague appraisals, year in review with outstanding results. 

How about doing the same but privately? Consider creating a spreadsheet or a list with all of your achievements, accolades, qualifications, and skills you've learnt. Every time you get a chance to celebrate: from something small like positive feedback on your work to big achievements like job promotion, recognize your victory.

Such lists help raise your self-esteem, track your progress, and remind yourself of positive moments. 

In the Setapp subscription, we've got a TaskPaper – a neat, small Mac app for all your notes. With TaskPaper, you can create regular lists or organize your notes into projects and folders. We use TaskPaper as a personal task manager, but you can use it as a personal spreadsheet for your accomplishments as well. Themes and style editor help you customize the look and feel of the app to your taste.

4. Develop a positive reaction to your failures

What is imposter syndrome? It's a constant inner voice that tells you that you don't deserve anything you've achieved. This voice speaks about your failures and concentrates on negative sides. To defeat this voice, try several workable techniques:

  • Change negatives to positives. When you feel like making light of your accomplishments, change the "I don't deserve this" to "I deserve everything I've got". Such affirmations help you develop a positive mindset and concentrate on things that matter.

  • Allow yourself to be imperfect. Perfectionists tend to punish themselves for every failure while others take time to learn from their mistakes and direct their energy to fixing things. The most healthy way to deal with a failure is to accept it, forgive yourself, and move on with a recovery plan.

  • Don't look for other people's approval. Joanne K. Rowling received 12 rejections on her "Harry Potter" pitch. What would happen if she eventually gave up? So, seek for relevant feedback rather than simple approval that may missguide you.

5. Make a habit

Underestimating your accomplishments is like an unhealthy habit. So break it and make a new habit instead. 

For example, whenever you feel unconfident, get something to remind you that you're wrong. A bracelet or a rubber band on a hand helps to shift your focus from bad thoughts.

Another way to boost confidence and beat your IS is a daily self-check. Ask yourself simple questions like:

"How do I feel today?"

"Why am I feeling like that?"

"Is my failure an objective fact or just my imagination?"

Such small self-check allows you to understand if you're simply overwhelmed with emotions or there's a reason to worry.

Finally, a board with empowering phrases, images, and cheering messages is a workable way to destress. You can visualize your achievements and place the goals you're striving for. The board will remind you of positive changes you've made and distract you from unconfident thoughts.

If you like to visualize things just like us, check out MindNote app that helps you create complex mind maps and visualize ideas in a very simple way. The mind maps can be exported to convenient file formats and shared in Reminders and OmniFocus.

P.S. You can find a bunch of useful and handy tools for your Mac in the Setapp subscription. Check out apps for your software development and design teams that'll significantly improve your workflow!

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