Has Imposter Syndrome Left You Feeling Burnt Out Or Overlooked?
Has success been a tricky place for you? Perhaps you have felt like your accomplishments, experience and credentials have always come as result of luck, extreme hard work or a mistake, which has left you feeling fearful of being exposed as a fraud or incompetent. Or maybe you feel embarrassed every time you make a mistake. And despite the many valid reasons for your success, you feel like putting in extra hours or effort is evidence that you are a fraud.
Or perhaps you have always had to work hard for everything you got, but you still feel inadequate. If you have traditionally outworked your peers, you might credit your work ethic for your success, while still harboring doubts about your intelligence or your abilities. So in an effort to maintain your achievements and “prove” yourself, you may continue to work longer hours and take on additional work, to the point that you’re overwhelmed and burnt out by daily stress.
Are you relying on other people to validate your sense of self or accomplishment? You know you have achieved great things in your personal and professional life, but you may struggle to feel good about those successes when you don’t receive positive feedback. And even after receiving praise, you may quickly feel like you’re back to square one and saying to yourself, “I am just not good enough.” You may even worry so much about how your work will be received that you end up procrastinating or aren’t able to give the task your full effort. | Or maybe you are constantly seeking a mentor who can validate your decisions, but you are not getting what you need to stop thinking that you are a fraud.
Imposter Syndrome Is More Common Than You May Think
When you’ve been successful, it can feel like you aren’t allowed to complain. But just because you are a high achiever doesn’t mean you have to keep doing it all on your own. According to the International Journal of Behavioral Science, an estimated 70% of people experience imposter syndrome at one point in their life.* And seeking support now can help you own your success and improve feelings of self-worth.
There are many reasons you might struggle with imposter syndrome, each one as valid as the other. We live in a culture in which overwork has become the norm: you’re expected to have your phone on all day, and there isn’t a clear boundary between work and outside life. Even when you know you need a break, you might worry people will find fault with that decision. Or you may have an internal drive to be successful that makes prioritizing your self-care feel like you are “wasting time.”
Imposter syndrome is especially prevalent among women and people of color—individuals whose accomplishments are often met with doubt or incredulity from the outside world. We’re seen as undeserving of certain achievements, or we’re told we were only promoted because of our sex or race. That external pressure—the constant demand to prove yourself—often increases as you work your way up the ladder, reinforcing any internal doubts you may have.
Regardless of your sex, gender, race, or ethnicity, the inability to internalize your own skills and successes makes it hard to advocate for yourself. And if you can’t feel safe enough to take risks or secure enough to articulate why you deserve a job or promotion over someone else, it becomes harder to accomplish your goals.
Fortunately, with the right guidance and support, you can free yourself from the internal blocks that are keeping you stuck and learn to accept your accomplishments and feel good about what you’ve done.
Our Three Phases To Overcoming Imposter Syndrome
At Dynamic Transitions, we have been helping successful individuals own their greatness for 15 years. Our extensive experience as career coaches in New York City has given us unique insights into how imposter syndrome develops and what you can do to reduce insecurity and feel more confident and empowered.
What is imposter syndrome? It’s a compilation of behaviors and thoughts that are keeping you from accepting your accomplishments and advocating for yourself. Our programmatic approach to helping people overcome feelings of inadequacy was developed from years of professional experience and informed by our own struggles with imposter syndrome that had us feeling like a fraud.
Phase 1: Clarify
Before you can take concrete steps to overcome the imposter phenomenon, you need to know how it works in your life. When you understand your imposter origin story and the ways it is affecting your daily life, you can identify “trap doors” and change your narrative.
Trap doors are areas where you are particularly vulnerable to feeling like a fraud. When you know your triggers—for instance, your imposter feelings may increase when you are given a new project—you’ll know the ways you’re vulnerable and how to engage your skills to fight self-doubt with strength and self-compassion.
The goal is to learn how you can shift the narrative around how you define your skills and own your accomplishments. So when someone says, “You did such a great job,” you can respond with gratitude instead of deflecting or giving credit to other team members.
Phase 2: Choose
Whether your drive to achieve is motivated by internal or external factors, learning to make strategic choices that support internalizing your accomplishments will help you to move away from Imposter Syndrome and choose yourself by speaking your truth, silencing automatic negative thoughts and committing to thoughtful self-care.
We all struggle with automatic negative thoughts, or ANTs. These ANTs can lead you to believe that you are being viewed negatively, that you are failing even when you are not, and distort your experience of what is really happening. And even when you know better, they can push you into an exhausting cycle of trying to prove yourself.
The surest way to combat feeling like a fraud is to learn to choose behaviors and thoughts that support an accurate viewpoint of yourself. By learning to speak your truth, silencing your ANTs and taking care of yourself, you can build a structure and support mechanism around you where you confidently share what’s happening with people you trust, know that you aren’t alone and are accountable to the changes you want to make—a vital step in overcoming imposter syndrome.
Phase 3: Create
We all have certain conditions that help us perform at an optimal level. In the past, you may have associated your success with overworking or the protective relationships you built at work. But those strategies are no longer working for you, and the more you go back to that well, the more drained you feel.
By experimenting with new roles and trying new things, you can find ways to be successful that won’t reinforce the thoughts and beliefs that are keeping you stuck. If you are always in the helper role, for example, it may be feeding the belief that you are best suited for a support role or that things will fall apart if you ask for help.
As you surround yourself with the people and tools that you need to perform optimally and trust your decisions, you will be creating a support system that can help you thrive.
Are you ready to clarify your needs, own your self-care, and create a system of support that empowers you at work and at home? We offer four different ways to own your greatness and to overcome Imposter Syndrome, so you can find the right approach for you.
Four Ways To Own Your Greatness
This book doesn’t just show you how to overcome imposter syndrome, it provides practical, engaging activities, tools and real-world examples that help you learn the process and skills you need to own your greatness.
And if you need a little extra support or accountability, you can find a like-minded community in our Own Your Greatness course or retreat.
This course provides access to a community of like-minded individuals striving to make a change in their lives. You can proceed through our three-phase program surrounded by others with the same goals, giving you extra support and accountability.
We recommend this course if you know you work better in a community setting or if you need a built-in accountability partner to help you adopt the process into your daily life. Go to the Course Page to learn more.
It’s a chance to take a vacation that includes really working on yourself with our help and guidance.
Interested in our Impostor Syndrome Retreat? Go to our newsletter with the link below and mark that you are interested in the Retreats and we will keep you updated!
If you lead or manage a group (e.g., you are a senior leader, HR manager, school administrator, run a leadership program, etc.) who needs to hear this message, we can come to your organization to talk about creating a healthier framework around how you work.
We’ll walk through our three-phase Own Your Greatness methodology and provide practical steps and exercises your team can take to reduce internal stress, acknowledge your strengths, and work hard without overworking and burning out.
You may have questions about how to overcome imposter syndrome…
You Can Learn To Own Your Greatness
If you are ready to escape self-doubt and foster greater confidence, we’d be honored to help in your journey. You can order our workbook, work with us in person, or sign up for our newsletter and receive tips and tricks to your inbox regularly.