Self-Esteem: Get out of your own way
By: Jackie Martinez, MA
Sometimes anxious thoughts can create irrational beliefs that our achievements in life are due to luck and perhaps struggle with perfectionism. The term Imposter Syndrome was introduced as the concept of experiencing self-doubt, fear of failure, and that you will be exposed as a fraud.
People who experience Imposter Syndrome might feel like they do not deserve certain accomplishments and were just “lucky” to have obtained something they desired. Ironically, certain people who have received notoriety at work, have academic success, or even well-known athletes might question themselves after receiving an award. A person might think, “I just got this promotion because there was no one else available and the company is saving money.”
Perfectionism becomes a problem that is connected to Imposter Syndrome as well. A person might feel like a minor mistake in the workplace confirms that others will see they are not as smart or capable. This can be exhausting to experience frequently, below is a guide to fight Imposter Syndrome.
With the constant usage of social media apps on our phones, many times people might begin comparing their life to what they see from others online. Remembering that what others post online majority of the time are small moments in life. Limiting usage of social media can help remain more based in reality of your own life and be present.
Mindfulness and Meditation
Anxiety and depressive symptoms can be associated with Imposter Syndrome. Practicing a few deep breaths can help reset in the moment you realize you are experiencing self-doubt along with short meditations throughout the week. The Calm meditations on YouTube is a great start. This can help ground you back in reality of what is truly happening rather than putting too much energy with what might happen.
To help combat perfectionism, reaching acceptance that everyone experiences failures and mistakes is part of being human. Although is great to admire superheroes, being human means understanding that we will not get everything right all the time. Just because you might not have had the outcome you desired or made a mistake at work does not mean you are not truly smart of have the ability to reach success.
Utilizing more positive self-talk can help quite those irrational beliefs we all can experience at times. When you catch yourself questioning your abilities or having self-doubt, replacing these with positive statements can help ground you back to reality. Many times, we have to recognize as humans we are not perfect and mistakes are going to happen. Practice telling imagining what you would tell your best friend. Use those that same encouragement toward yourself when you notice it is more difficult to control the negative self-talk.
Psychologist, Dr. Kristen Neff the author of Self-Compassion: The Proven Power of Being Kind to Yourself says, “Compassion is, by definition, relational. Compassion literally means ‘to suffer with,’ which implies a basic mutuality in the experience of suffering. The emotion of compassion springs from the recognition that the human experience is imperfect.” Dr. Neff discusses the topic of self-compassion and a guide to remove the feeling of isolation that self-doubt can create and instead move toward the perspective of being kind to yourself in a life full of challenges.
Neff, K. (2011). Self-compassion: The proven power of being kind to yourself. New York: William Morrow.
Mann, S. (2019). Why Do I Feel Like an Imposter? How to Understand and Cope with Imposter Syndrome. London : Watkins.