“I still think people will find out that I’m really not very talented. I’m really not very good. It’s all been a big sham.” – Michelle Pfeiffer
“I have written eleven books, but each time I think, ‘uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.’” – Maya Angelou
“There are an awful lot of people out there who think I’m an expert.
How do these people believe all this about me? I’m so much aware of all the things I don’t know.” – Dr. Chan, Chief of the World Health Organization
Impostor syndrome plagues more than 70% of successful people.
It’s the persistent feeling that you are a fake. This feeling persists despite all evidence to the contrary.
You don’t belong here.
You’ll never be good enough.
One of these days, they’ll see right through you.
These thoughts have an amazing capacity to hold us back from our potential. They make us doubt our abilities and question our right to be successful. Sometimes, we chalk our successes up to luck or downplay our achievements. It often goes along with a fear of being found out. So what can you do if you feel this way?
- Settle for good enough
Research says that ‘good enough’ is the key to happiness. People who suffer from impostor syndrome are trying to keep up the illusion that they’re perfect. Aim instead for being perfectly adequate. When you take the pressure off, and offer yourself some much-needed self-compassion, you’ll realize that no one else expects perfection either.
- Keep a positive feedback journal
Impostor syndrome has a funny way of reminding us of all our failings while causing success amnesia. When you get a compliment or you achieve something to be proud of, write about it in a journal. When you feel impostor syndrome creeping up again you can pull out your journal to remind yourself of everything your impostor syndrome would like you to forget.
- Feel the fear and do it anyway
We all have these thoughts from time to time. If everyone ran in the opposite direction when Impostor Syndrome reared its ugly head, the world would never have enjoyed the humour of Mike Myers, and Einstein’s theory of relativity would be at the bottom of a trash can somewhere. And so many great men and women would have remained anonymous. Be willing to sit with discomfort for a while and do what you set out to do despite what your brain may be telling you.
Remember, Impostor Syndrome is an affliction of the successful. If you feel like an impostor – chances are, you’re already doing great.