I was an impostor. A poseur. A fraud.
Characteristics include being unable to take credit for accomplishments or to accept recognition for success, which sufferers may dismiss as simply luck, good timing, or perseverance. So-called impostors feel that they have fooled everyone and that they are not as smart or capable as everyone thinks. This, of course, is inaccurate.
Taking realistic and accurate assessments of your performance is key to moving past the impostor syndrome. Such assessments, however, are difficult. With each success, take time to jot down the specific actions that led to success as well as what experience and qualities underlies your success at completing each action. If we want to maintain and repeat our success at weight loss, we must learn to recognize ourselves as worthy and remember how and why we succeeded.
Overcoming Impostor Syndrome*
- Break the silence. Shame keeps a lot of people from admitting their fraudulent feelings. Knowing there’s a name for your feelings can be tremendously freeing.
- Separate feelings from fact. There are times you’ll feel inadequate. It happens to everyone from time to time. Realize that just because you may feel that way, doesn’t mean you are.
- Recognize when you should feel fraudulent. If you’re one of the first to do something, even something like get a lapband, it’s only natural you’d sometimes feel like you don’t totally fit in. Instead of taking your self-doubt as a sign of your ineptness, recognize that it might be a normal response to being an outsider.
- Accentuate the positive. Perfectionism can indicate a healthy drive to excel, but the trick is to not obsess over always being perfect. Do a great job when it matters most. Don’t persevere over routine tasks. Forgive yourself when the inevitable mistake happens.
- Develop a new response to failure and mistake making. Henry Ford once said, “Failure is only the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.” Instead of beating yourself up for being human for blowing the big project, glean the learning value from the mistake and move on.
- Right the rules. If you’ve been operating under misguided rules like, “I should always know the answer,” or “Never ask for help,” start asserting your rights. Recognize that you have just as much right as the next person to be wrong, have an off-day, or ask for assistance.
- Develop a new script. Your Impostor script is that automatic mental tape that starts playing in situations that trigger your Impostor feelings. Instead of thinking, “Wait till they find out I have no idea what I’m doing,” try thinking, “I may not know all the answers but I’m smart enough to find them out.”
- Visualize success. Spend time picturing yourself fitting into your dream dress size or successfully completing a marathon. It sure beats picturing impending disaster and will help with performance-related stress.
- Reward yourself. Break the cycle of continually seeking and then dismissing validation outside of yourself by learning to pat yourself on the back. Actually make a list of non-food rewards to gift yourself.
- Fake it ’til you make it. Don’t wait until you feel confident to start putting yourself out there. Courage comes from taking risks. Change your behavior first and allow your confidence to build.
Closely adapted from A Girl’s Guide to Project Management