Updated: Jul 10
“I am enough”
What is Imposter Syndrome?
Imposter syndrome is a psychological pattern of thinking or perception that is inaccurate, biased, or irrational. It refers to a systematic error in how an individual processes information, leading to a distorted view of reality. Cognitive distortions can be negative or positive. They can have a negative impact on emotions, behavior, and beliefs. Common distortions include black-and-white thinking, jumping to conclusions, overgeneralization, magnification, minimization, and personalization. These distortions can lead to anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues. A person who doubts their accomplishments and capabilities will feel like they are not competent or qualified, despite evidence to the contrary.
Understanding Cognitive Bias
The first step to overcoming imposter syndrome is understanding cognitive bias or the Dunning-Kruger effect. When we start learning something new, we typically experience a quick rise in confidence as we learn the basics. As we continue to learn and deepen our knowledge, we realize how much we still have to learn, leading to a drop in confidence. This paradoxical effect can even be more pronounced for experts, who may experience a crisis of confidence as they gain more knowledge and begin to recognize the limits of their understanding.
Cognitive biases have a detrimental impact on our self-perception, causing us to doubt our abilities and accomplishments. Everyone is susceptible to these biases, but having them is not evidence of incompetence or weakness. By recognizing the Dunning-Kruger effect and how it can contribute to imposter syndrome, individuals can begin to reframe their negative thoughts and feelings. Instead of viewing their doubts as a sign of inadequacy, they can see them as a normal part of the learning process and an opportunity to grow and improve.
Imposter Syndrome in the Workplace
Imposter syndrome can manifest in various ways in the workplace and impacts individuals at all levels of an organization. Some examples are:
Promotions: Promoted individuals may feel like they don't deserve the new position. This can lead to self-doubt and feelings of inadequacy, which can negatively impact performance and job satisfaction.
Taking on new responsibilities: When an individual is asked to take on new responsibilities, they may feel like they don't have the necessary skills or experience to do the job well. This can lead to procrastination and avoidance, which can hinder professional growth and development.
Job Seeking: Individuals seeking to pivot to a new career may feel their experience is inadequate or their knowledge too limited to work in a new industry. This may result in not applying to jobs or not seeking jobs that they are fully qualified for.
Changing jobs: Individuals transitioning to new careers or companies may feel like they can't perform well in their new environment or their hiring was a mistake. This can lead to anxiety and stress, which can negatively impact job performance and well-being.
Second-guessing decisions: An individual may doubt their decisions and constantly seek validation from others, leading to a lack of confidence and delayed decision-making.
Feeling like a fraud: An individual may feel like they got to their position through luck or connections rather than their skills and hard work, leading to a constant fear of being exposed as a fraud.
Overworking: An individual may feel like they need to constantly prove their worth and competence, leading to overworking and burnout.
Tips for Overcoming Imposter Syndrome
Learn the Facts
Up to 82% of people experience imposter syndrome. Know that your feelings are the norm.
Discuss with Others
Studies show that people with imposter syndrome often feel that they are alone. Know that 8/10 people in a room feel or have felt similarly to you. A recent study found that up to 82% of women in the tech industry have experienced imposter syndrome. Additionally, imposter syndrome is often associated with high-achievers and professionals, especially those in competitive fields such as academia, law, and medicine.
Michele Obama - "It doesn’t go away, that feeling that you shouldn’t take me that seriously….we all have doubts in our abilities, about our power and what that power is.”
Write Down Your Wins
We tend to focus on the negative over the positive, and overlook our progress. Regularly review your wins, identify accomplishments, and understand your capabilities and abilities.
Let Go of Perfectionism
If you are avoiding failure, you are avoiding success.
Adopt a Growth Mindset
Individuals can be encouraged to view challenges as opportunities for growth and learning rather than threats to their competence or self-worth. People with a growth mindset believe that new capabilities can be developed through dedication and hard work. This mindset emphasizes the importance of effort and persistence, rather than just innate talent or intelligence. By adopting a growth mindset, individuals can shift their focus from feeling like a fraud to focusing on their potential for growth and development.
Build Confidence and Achieve Success
Start by focusing on strengths and achievements rather than perceived shortcomings. One practical way to do this is to write down accomplishments and review them regularly to remind oneself of capabilities. Seeking support and connecting with colleagues, mentors, or a therapist can also be helpful. Managers can also play a role in creating a supportive and inclusive workplace culture that encourages open communication and recognizes the contributions of all employees.
How Hypnosis Can Help
What is Hypnosis?
Hypnosis is a technique that can be used to help individuals overcome imposter syndrome by accessing the subconscious mind and rewiring negative thought patterns. The subconscious mind is where beliefs and attitudes are stored, and it's often difficult to change these deeply ingrained patterns of thinking through conscious effort alone. Hypnosis works by inducing a state of deep relaxation, during which the subconscious mind becomes more receptive to suggestions for positive change.
Reframing Negative Beliefs is the Key
During hypnosis, a trained therapist will guide the individual into a relaxed state and help them access their subconscious mind. In this state, the hypnotherapist can work with the individual to identify and challenge the negative self-talk and beliefs that contribute to imposter syndrome. The therapist can then suggest positive affirmations and visualizations to reframe these negative beliefs and promote a more positive self-image.
It is important to remember that imposter syndrome is a common experience among professionals, and one is not alone in their struggle. By focusing on their strengths, and adopting a growth mindset, busy professionals can grow and thrive in their workplace. If you liked this article, try reading another on how hypnosis can reduce work stress with mind-body techniques.
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