Let's Talk About Impostor Syndrome - The Life You Love

Let's Talk About Impostor Syndrome

Like most people would be, I was super excited when I was first offered my new job.  As I told people the exciting news, I received mixed reactions.  Most people were excited for me, but some told me it would just be a different kind of stress and pointed out the potential negatives.  Even though they were passing statements and honestly not wrong, my excitement was quickly replaced with fear and doubt.  Instead of sharing how happy I was that this department wanted me to work with them and how excited I was for a change, I told people that I had a new job but quickly followed up with how it probably wouldn't be any better and doubt that I would do a good job.  

Within a month of receiving the job offer, I had completely psyched myself out.  I began worrying if I'd be a good fit for the department and if coworkers would like me.  I obsessed over the idea that I'm actually a terrible therapist and don't know what I'm doing.  I spent quite a bit of time wondering if I'd be happy in the job and worrying about what I would do if I wasn't.

As I write this, I'm not sure whether I'm experiencing Impostor Syndrome or nervousness about the new job.  Probably both, but I want to talk about Impostor Syndrome today.  Impostor Syndrome is basically the feeling someone might get when they think they aren't actually good at or qualified to do what they're doing.  Sometimes the person experiencing Impostor Syndrome is worried that people around them will uncover the "truth" and see that they're a fraud.  Other people might react to Impostor Syndrome by overcompensating or even shutting down.  That last one is me.  Thankfully, there are several ways to deal with Impostor Syndrome.  I find that the best way to eliminate feelings or habits that we don't want is by replacing them with something we do want.

  • List your accomplishments, achievements, and attributes.  No matter how big or small, write down everything you've achieved that's related to the source of the Impostor Syndrome.  My list included my education, past jobs, and training I've completed.  I also wrote down positive characteristics of myself that may help me in my job.  This exercise is helpful in itself but also lays the groundwork for the next two techniques.
  • Repeat positive affirmations.  Replace doubt and negative self-talk with positive self-talk and encouraging statements.  The key to effective positive affirmations is to make them uplifting yet realistic.  I wouldn't believe a statement like, "I'm the best therapist," but I believe something like, "I am constantly becoming a better therapist."  Use your positive traits to write these affirmations.  Repeat them at least once daily.
  • Challenge your negative thoughts.  When you have a negative thought related to Impostor Syndrome, find evidence that challenges that thought.  Identify proof that that negative thought isn't true, at least not entirely.  When I worry that I'm not good enough for this job, I remind myself that that isn't true because I have job experience and references that show that I am.
  • Do something that will make you feel more competent and qualified.  One of the ways I'm tackling Impostor Syndrome is by completing a new training that relates to my profession.  Learning new skills or reinforcing old information is a great way to feel more competent.  Read a book, complete a training, attend a conference, listen to a podcast.
  • Find other ways to feel fulfilled.  I've found that I'm more worried about work when I have no other outlet for my time and effort.  This is especially true while I'm working from home and there's less separation of home and work.  Make time for hobbies or spend time with friends.  Spend time in places where you feel peaceful and present.  Anything that makes you feel proud and fulfilled!

    If you're experiencing Impostor Syndrome, know that you aren't alone!  Try one of these methods and let me know what you think.  If you have any other tips or tricks that have worked for you, share them below.

    No comments