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How you can learn to overcome the imposter syndrome

What is the imposter syndrome anyways? The imposter syndrome is very often a defence mechanism against failure and disappointment.

The word FAILURE often comes with connotations of anxiety, self-doubt, and deflation. t is not uncommon to let one failed attempt at something new prevent us from ever trying it again.

”My favourite reminder to myself to overcome imposter complex is to remember that real imposters never feel like imposters.” – Vicky Shilling

However, the way I see it, failure can be a powerful tool for progression. You can either allow it to ignite your determination to try again, or let it guide you towards a new, more destined path.

The official definition outlines the impostor syndrome as a pattern of behaviour where people doubt their accomplishments and fear they are going to be exposed as a fraud.

The term was coined by clinical psychologists Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes in 1978, who found it was particularly high among successful women.

70% of women and just over 50% of men have had imposter syndrome, a constant, nagging sense of self-doubt, insecurity and the fear that others think we’re not good enough to be doing what we’re doing – I recommend you listen to this Deliciously Ella podcast with clinical psychologist Dr Jessamy Hibberd about how to get comfortable being uncomfortable and the effects of self-doubt.

Time to praise yourself

I am guilty of always striving for being more or doing more – but what about everything we have already achieved in life?

Write down all of your achievements so you can see just how far you’ve come – and the next time someone gives you a compliment graciously take the praise and say ‘thank you’.

“An activity which seems awkward and silly, but actually works on improving your subconscious nerves, is positively encouraging yourself in the mirror, and talking out loud to yourself!” shares Bridgette Macilwaine from the Hyper Health Nut.

Cultivate a learner’s mindset

Cultivating a learner’s mindset is what truly can make a difference when looking at yourself as a student who does not have all the answers.

You’re not trying to fake a persona or maintain a certain image — instead, you’re motivated by curiosity: “What ever the situation may be, I think it is important to keep in mind that if you have been studying and training in a certain subject, then you obviously have the knowledge built up to work in that given profession, so don’t be shy to share and teach!” adds Bridgette Macilwaine “The best way to build confidence and not let the imposter syndrome affect your life is to gain experience and don’t be afraid to share your hard worked for professional advice with others (who most of the time, are interested to learn).”

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Beware of your dreams

This may sound like a very counter-productive tip, but bear with me on this. Setting better goals is something I talk about a lot, yet I talk about them with good reason.

There’s a sort of emotional whiplash that happens when your big dream comes true. You believed that the thing you wanted was going to satisfy you completely, or solve your problems, or make you truly happy.

When it doesn’t, the resulting sense of loss can send you grasping for something else to fill the void. If that thing doesn’t live up to your expectations, either, and the cycle continues. The positive psychology expert Tal Ben-Shahar named this feeling “arrival fallacy.”

A great way to fix this is to set multiple goals that allow you to stretch and grow. Having only one big dream or goal puts a lot of pressure off us and the image we have of ourselves.

A few parting words from Vicky Shilling, wellness industry business coach: “My favourite reminder to myself to overcome imposter complex is to remember that real imposters never feel like imposters. By having these thoughts and feelings I am in fact the opposite: I have high standards, high integrity and really care about the work that I do. Real imposters never even consider they’re imposters because they don’t care about what they put out in the world!”

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