Even though you know you’re more than qualified for a job, more than worthy of a happy, healthy relationship and supportive friendships, do you sometimes feel like you’re not ‘good enough?’ If so, you may suffer from imposter syndrome, a term first used in the Journal of Psychotherapy Theory, Research and Practice in 1978. This study explored how successful women struggled to recognize their accomplishments, even though there was evidence to illustrate their capabilities.
Fast forward to 2021, and imposter syndrome is still common, particularly among women, according to Dr. Moreen Rubin, a licensed clinical therapist and the founder of Therapy for Wellness. As she explains, those who battle imposter syndrome are frequently afraid of being ‘exposed as a fraud’ because they focus on all of the negatives and don’t feel deserving of positive feedback.
“Imposter syndrome is a mindset, much like confidence. It is all based on what you tell yourself in your head,” she explains. In addition to therapy, if you feel like you need it, you can also adopt routine shifts and wellness habits that will push you to overcome these self-defeating thoughts.
How to fight imposter syndrome in your professional life:
Write down tangible evidence of your worth.
You’ve been going above and beyond in your role, and it’s time for your review. You should be promoted, but you’re anxious about asking for what you’re worth. That’s your imposter syndrome talking! To give yourself the courage and pep talk you need by documenting tangible evidence of your talents and skills says Hanna Stensby, M.A., a licensed marriage and family therapist. “Write down your credentials and the specific hard skills that you do have paired with examples of times that you have succeeded in utilizing them,” she explains.
In addition, to help ground yourself, you can work on developing self-compassion. For example, Stensby says to think about a colleague in the same position if they came to you and said, ‘I feel unprepared. I don’t belong here.’ What would you tell them? “Think through what you would say to reassure them and then turn that towards yourself,” she adds.
How to fight imposter syndrome in your romantic relationships:
Practice authenticity and ask for reassurance.
Even in a healthy relationship, sometimes you may wonder if your partner is ‘too good’ for you or if they ‘really love you.’ Particularly if you’ve had toxic romantic experiences in the past, it could be difficult for you to find your value in a partnership. This is why allowing yourself to be vulnerable is an essential first step in building your confidence and trust, says Stensby. “Authenticity is a moment-to-moment practice. Deciding to show up as your true self and express yourself in a way that’s congruent with what you’re experiencing internally is authenticity,” she continues. “When you show up authentically, you are your whole self. All of your cards are on the table, and so if someone is choosing to relate to you and to continue to spend time with you in your authenticity, then they know what they’re getting into.”
Another way to combat imposter syndrome in a romantic relationship is by asking for some support and connection. After all, if you feel like you could use a hug, an ‘I love you’ or a meaningful conversation, your partner should be more than willing to provide what you need. “This strengthens the relationship by increasing trust and helps protect against imposter syndrome,” Stensby adds.
How to fight imposter syndrome in your friendships:
Open up to your least judgemental friend.
Our friends celebrate our milestones and pick up the pieces when we fall apart. But sometimes, we may feel left out, not welcomed, or otherwise disconnected from our closest confidants. This could be due to growing apart, or it could be a byproduct of imposter syndrome. In other words: your own insecurities could be pulling your friendships apart. To overcome this, start with your most trusted, least judgemental friend and talk about how you’re feeling; recommends licensed psychologist Dr. Yvonne Thomas, Ph.D. “Confide about your fear of imperfection, and then remain as open as you can to their reaction,” she says. “It may end up being a win-win situation because you can learn to see yourself more accurately through the eyes of a more objective party while also becoming a more ‘human’ and relatable person to your friend.”
How to fight imposter syndrome in your community:
Quit the comparison game.
Maybe it’s the PTA, the gym down the street or a club that you’ve recently joined. It’s tough to be the ‘new kid’ or even the old kid if you’re struggling with imposter syndrome. When you feel like an imposter in your community, you’re not truly connected to the community. This can happen when we are comparing ourselves to others in the community, says Stensby. “This can present in various ways, for example: not doing enough volunteering, not having the right clothes, not having the right car or house,” she explains.
Why is this happening? Because you’re playing the comparison game and assessing how you measure up against everyone around you. Or, you are part of a group of people who don’t share your same values, morals and beliefs. “Many communities celebrate comparison, competition, and material value over connection and authenticity,” Stensby says. “Evaluate if the community is one that you still want to be a part of.”