Have you ever felt like a fraud? Like you don’t quite belong.
That’s not an unusual feeling and you are not alone.
What you were experiencing is what psychologists call ‘imposter syndrome‘. This is a pattern of behaviour and thinking where you doubt your accomplishments and have a deep internalised fear of being ousted as a fraud.
This feeling can come about during your career or whilst you are at university. I remember feeling this exact same way during my first year at Bath. I attributed my place at the university to luck, I didn’t believe that I was capable even though everything around me suggested otherwise.
There are many reasons why you might experience this feeling. For me, it was because I was used to feeling like a big fish in a small pond but when I arrived at university, I was an average-sized fish in a very big pond. Everyone at the university was exceptionally bright and intelligent, the requirements to get in were quite high so you had to be. Naturally, doubt began to creep in and I started to think that I wasn’t as clever as everyone else around me.
This stems from a lack of self-belief more than anything, and this unfortunately can lead to self-fulfilling prophecies. The counterproductive thinking that we adopt can impact our performance in a negative way, and hold us back from achieving our goals.
How do we overcome imposter syndrome?
Once you recognise the signs, you can work on combating these feelings because ultimately it is psychological and these thoughts simply aren’t true.
1. Reframe the narrative
When you start to think that “I don’t belong”, change it to “I worked hard to get where I am”
2. Challenge the negative thoughts
Are the thoughts you are experiencing rational? For example “I got the job because there weren’t many candidates” dismantle this thought with reasoning: the job role required certain skills and experience, you interviewed for the job with other worthy candidates and the employer believes you are capable otherwise they would have given the job to someone else
3. Recognise your strengths
It can be easy to forget your accomplishments in times of doubt, but the simple act of remembering what you have achieved can be enough to dispel those negative thoughts
Everyone experiences bouts of low self-esteem at some point in their lives, you are not alone or abnormal in your thinking. But it’s important to talk about it with your support network to help you overcome these feelings. Remember that you are worthy, capable and full of potential.
Article photo by Llanydd Lloyd