If you think you're just faking it until you make it, you're definitely not alone. Many of us think we're 'not good enough' or 'don't belong'.
If you feel inadequate, that you don’t belong or like you’re about to be ‘found out’ at work, you may be suffering from a widespread psychological phenomenon. These feeling are typical of ‘Impostor Syndrome’.
You’re in good company: Imposter Syndrome is ubiquitous - with Oscar winners, top athletes and bestselling authors all confessing to experiencing it. There’s a perception that Imposter Syndrome affects more women than men, but it’s not a gendered phenomenon: perhaps women are just more comfortable talking about it? Or perhaps they're just better a verbalising it.
In the workplace HR professionals need to be aware of this phenomenon as it can prevent the most talented, experienced or knowledgeable employees from applying for a promotion, contributing to a discussion or even asking for a pay rise. It can also hinder creativity or risk taking, if you doubt yourself, you are not likely to believe that someone else will welcome your ideas or suggestions.
You may even find yourself expressing your opinions more aggressively, in the belief that they wouldn't be heard otherwise but that's not actually how you want to present yourself.
People describe Imposter Syndrome as:
One of the driving factors behind Imposter Syndrome is critical thinking. We often give too much weight to our thoughts and fall into the trap of believing they are true. However, just because we think something, that doesn’t make it a reality. We often distort our thinking unknowingly - we are our own worst critics.
We often jump to conclusions and predict adverse outcomes without evidence: for example, assuming that doing a presentation when we feel nervous, means it will go badly. Attending a meeting that you ‘know’ is going to be a disaster. Attending an interview and wondering ‘why? – as you know you won’t get the job. Sound familiar? Give yourself a talking to - OUT LOUD and remind yourself that catastrophising is:
We’ve worked with many people that are brilliant at what they do but also suffer from Imposter Syndrome. With their help we have been able to put together a list of practical ways to help to combat the negative feeling, that appear to come from nowhere just when everything is going so well:
Imposter Syndrome is a manifestation of your insecurities - you have complete control, you choose how to move forward and you can also choose to challenge those insecurities. You are a powerful person and you have to allow yourself to accept that truth.