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Overcoming impostor syndrome

Updated: Feb 8

We've all been there, feelings of self doubt and concerns over failure. Its not a nice place to be and something as a trainee psychologist I have struggled with myself from time to time, I hope that the more experienced or qualified I get the less impostor syndrome I will feel but there's always some underlying feelings of self doubt somewhere, we wouldn't be human otherwise.

Here are some steps you can use to overcome feelings of impostor syndrome:

1. Question if the intrusive, negative, self doubting thoughts are factual and do you have evidence for said thoughts?

Just because you are telling yourself you aren't smart enough or good enough, you most likely wouldn't be in the job or position you are in if you weren't 'good enough' or 'smart enough'.

2. Cut yourself some slack

Maybe you have just started a new job or a new course, embrace the newness and cut yourself some slack in the sense that of course you won't know everything right now you've just started or you are still training. Give yourself some time to get used to things and get your head around things and remember its okay to make mistakes at first, you will most likely learn from them.

3. Alter how you think about failure or making mistakes.

Making mistakes or failing at something doesn't mean its the end of the world, plus like I said earlier we wouldn't be human if we didn't make some mistakes we would be robots and even robots can have technical issues and failures!

Try to change the narrative of making mistakes into something more positive i.e. you will learn from them or you might even be able to pass your knowledge from making that mistake onto someone else which can help them in their journey or development. Henry Ford once said, “Failure is only the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.”

4. Remember your journey and end goal.

We all have to start somewhere right? Remind yourself of how far you have come up until now, you can probably remember times you have overcome impostor syndrome or self doubt in the past. You did it once, you can do it again.

5. The age old saying 'fake it til you make it'

Now when I say this I don't mean fake your achievements on your CV like Joey in Friends, but sometimes you can't wait until you feel 100% comfortable or ready for things, sometimes you have to throw yourself in the deep end and then learn to swim. Courage often comes from taking risks.

6. Remind yourself of things you are good at.

Gentle reminders and pats on the back can help when you are feeling like an imposture, so stop thinking like one and remind yourself of what you are good at or qualities you can bring to the current situation. It might be as simple as 'I have good time management' or 'I am a good leader'.

Remember we all feel impostor syndrome at some point in our lives but that's okay, just try and alter your thinking as best you can and eventually you will start to feel more comfortable in yourself and your capabilities.

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