Imposter syndrome is something that affects most of us at one time or another, but many people don't know what to do about it when it hits them.
Imposter syndrome is a "psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their skills, talents or accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a 'fraud.'"
I've interviewed many people over the years -- including c-suite executives -- who suffer from it. They've shared many strategies about how they've learned to believe in their own abilities and let go of their constant fear of being "found out."
Here are some of their ideas:
1. Find support. This may be a friend, mentor or professional colleague. Confide in someone you trust that you feel like an imposter. More than likely, you'll find that others feel the same way -- and that can make it easier to discuss.
2. Let go of the past. Yes, you've made mistakes. We all have. But that doesn't mean you should dwell on them and let them undermine your confidence and ability to move forward. Think about what you learned from that mistake and how that experience will make you better in the future. Mistakes can be a gift to your career if you learn and grow from them -- but not if you agonize over them and remain stuck in that mindset.
3. Step outside yourself. Many of those who suffer from imposter syndrome are incredibly supportive of others, always offering words of encouragement to those who need it. Yet, they never offer those same words to themselves! The next time you start feeling down on yourself, think of how you would respond to anyone else who says, "I'm really no good at this," or "They're going to find out I'm a fraud and don't know what I'm doing." Instead of offering "You're smart and you'll figure it out," to someone else -- say it to yourself. Think of the words of support you give to others and make sure to also say them to yourself on a regular basis.
4. Celebrate your victories. Don't be down on yourself if you learned how to do X but not Z. Celebrate that you learned X and tell yourself that Z is also something you can do. Replace your negative thoughts with remembering what you've done so far -- and how much more you're capable of doing when you believe in yourself.