Overcoming Imposter Syndrome: 5 Strategies to Help High-Achieving Individuals Reduce Self-Doubt

by Edgar R. Olivo

Do you ever feel like you do not deserve the success or achievements you have? Do you ever feel like you are not as bright as people think you are? If you answered “yes,” you may have experienced a form of imposter syndrome. This phenomenon was first described by psychologists in 1978, and according to studies it can affect anyone, regardless of job title and social status. This experience rings especially true with high-achieving individuals, particularly women.

What is imposter syndrome? According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine and National Institutes of Health, impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon, fraud syndrome, perceived fraudulence, or impostor experience) describes high-achieving individuals who, despite their objective successes, fail to internalize their accomplishments and have persistent self-doubt and fear of being exposed as a fraud or impostor.

It is important to learn how imposter syndrome can hold you back because it can take a toll on many areas of your personal and professional life. Studies reveal that 70% of millennials have imposter syndrome! It is a very real thing and you are not alone.

How does imposter syndrome hold you back? Imposter syndrome likes to feed on fears you already have, so it can appear in your life in the following ways:

  1. You fear doing things wrong all the time, thus affecting your overall job performance.
  2. You avoid taking on responsibilities and limit your tasks outside of your comfort zone.
  3. You create more self-doubt about your achievements and fail to recognize your wins.
  4. You attribute your success to outside factors like luck and deny your own contributions to it.
  5. You experience job dissatisfaction and burnout due to feeling inadequate for the job.
  6. You avoid seeking promotions because you do not believe you deserve it.
  7. You set really hard goals for yourself and beat yourself up when you are unable to achieve them.

Here are five healthy strategies to help you overcome imposter syndrome and find ways to thrive as a high-achieving individual:

  1. Start by asking yourself, how do you feel when you achieve something?
  2. Then, accept that you feel what you feel instead of beating yourself up over it.
  3. Try to regularly review your accomplishments and find ways to pat yourself on the back.
  4. Develop a mantra script to help you strengthen the idea that you are deserving and confident.
  5. Ask for feedback from peers, mentors and colleagues to help you see your own work through their eyes.

The good news is that many people experience the symptoms of imposter syndrome at some time in their life or career. It can feel like debilitating stress and anxiety inducing, but you must remember that perceptions do not always reflect reality. Check in with yourself and practice self-acknowledgment. Most importantly, remember that you are worthy of success and you are better and smarter than you let yourself think. One of my favorite Mark Twain quotes says, “A man cannot be comfortable without his own approval.”

EDGAR RAFAEL OLIVO is a bilingual business educator, economic advisor and contributor for several media outlets. He’s a nonprofit executive who is passionate about education. He is certified in finance and data analytics and holds a business degree from Arizona State University.

Para la versión en español de este artículo, haga clic aquí.

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