“Imposter Syndrome” can be described as a pattern of thinking that leads people to lose confidence in themselves, in their accomplishments and in their ability to do their job. This results in individuals becoming stressed about being “discovered as a fraud” by their peers.
Imposter syndrome can be a very destructive disorder if left unchecked. It can turn positive moments into negatives and put a dampener on an individual’s work related accomplishments. It can present itself as severe anxiety and self-doubt which can inhibit an individual’s ability to perform at the level that they are capable of.
Most people suffer from a degree of imposter syndrome at some point in their career. Perhaps it might happen to you when you take on a more senior position, and you wonder if you have the ability to deliver in your new role. For others, it can seemingly appear from nowhere.
The important thing is to recognise that it is imposter syndrome and to take control of the situation in order to move forward. Although imposter syndrome is not considered to be an official “psychological disorder”, it is a real occurrence and can often be identified as work-related anxiety or stress.
Like any other pattern of thinking, it is learned and reinforced in the individual’s mind. Therefore it can be addressed through retraining yourself to adopt healthier patterns of thinking.
A good method of helping to deal with imposter syndrome is to track every accomplishment. Doing so in a way that is visible (in a notepad or on a whiteboard on your wall), can help you to remind yourself that you are doing well.
Another way to flex your skills and make a positive impact is to reach out and help others in your firm. You could mentor and develop junior colleagues. This can reinforce in your mind that you know a lot about your specific subject matter. An additional benefit is the feel-good factor associated with bringing people on and making a difference.
If you are suffering badly with imposter syndrome (to the extent that it is keeping you awake at night, for example), it may be time to seek help from a professional coach or therapist. The idea is to discuss the root cause(s) of the anxiety with a professional who can help you to create an effective coping mechanism. They can help you to move forward by finding ways to assist you in changing your pattern of thinking.