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Things that Go Bump in the Night: Imposter Syndrome and How to Fight It

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Posted by: YPN South Bend on Tuesday, October 31, 2017 at 12:00:00 am

It’s the time of year when ghosts and ghouls are everywhere to be found, when witches fly by the moon and Hocus Pocus is playing on repeat on the Freeform channel, so we’re here to tell you about one of the scariest things that you may come across in your career: Imposter Syndrome.

Think of imposter syndrome like a vampire – it vants to suck your self-confidence replacing it with self-doubt. It’s the monster sitting on your shoulder telling you that everything you know is wrong and you’re in way over your head … and it’s fairly common with as many as 70% of high-achievers reporting that they’ve felt this way before.

To be able to help banish these negative thoughts, it helps to understand what really is happening with Imposter Syndrome. It’s not a newly made up diagnosis that was created just for millennials, it’s actually been around since 1978 when two researchers at Georgia State University coined the term in an academic paper when studying high-achieving women. It being 2017, though, we understand that this isn’t just a phenomenon affecting women and we can all suffer from it.  But how can we shove that monster back into the closet like we will all the other Halloween decorations next week? Here are five tips to help beat that baddie back: 

REALIZE THAT EVERYONE FEELS IT 

 

As we said above, while it was originally believed that imposter syndrome only affects high achieving females, we’re here to tell you that it doesn’t and that it’s nearly ubiquitous in the work force. Take comfort in the fact that your boss has probably felt imposter syndrome before, as has the person who sits next to you, and the person down the hall. Knowing that you aren’t alone can help you speak up for reassurance from your boss that you’re doing what you need to do.

 

FIND FRIENDS

 

Having a strong support system that knows you and knows your work will only help in the long run. Oftentimes Imposter Syndrome strikes because we fear that we aren’t as qualified to do a task and friends and mentors can help put into perspective that even if something is a reach, we are perfectly capable of handling it based on our successful track record.

 

FAKE IT TIL YOU MAKE IT


Halloween is a time to put on costumes and act like someone else for a night, and that’s good practice when dealing with Imposter Syndrome too. How would you act in that meeting if you felt confident that you know what you’re doing and deserve to be in that room? Go into that meeting and do that.

 

OWN YOUR MISTAKES


Work is busy and there’s always something to do and even a person who is overly attentive to every detail will make a mistake. If you’re suffering from imposter syndrome, it’s easy to make every mistake into a mountain when in reality it’s probably much closer to a molehill. Own it and apologize and work to make sure that it never happens again – in time, it’s likely that you’ll be the only one who will remember that incident in the office. Don’t let one mistake kill your confidence, and don’t give into the idea that that mistake will define your career.

 

RECOGNIZE THAT YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW


If you’re suffering from imposter syndrome because you’ve recently gotten a promotion or taken on a new role, be up front with your supervisor or a mentor about what you’re most concerned with. Ask them for advice about situations or seek out personal development courses online, in the community or through your Human Resources departments. Bonus points if you’re open with your team and ask for their help in clarifying something you don’t understand fully – it will help build good will with them and foster more of a team environment rather than a solely one-way street between a boss and employee.

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