It’s been a big year for women on a global scale. In the political realm, in Hollywood, and in workplaces across many different spheres, from my point of view, it feels like there’s been a shift and a move towards awareness and boldness as we continue to chip away at the glass ceiling. But while there are many external factors that are proven to keep women oppressed (like the pay gap), there is one internal factor that has plagued many women for a long time: Imposter Syndrome.
You’ve probably read about the commonly-coined phrase before, but what I was surprised to find out according Lysn psychologist, Breanna Jayne Sada, is that it was first discovered in 1978 when psychologists were trying to figure out why women would peg their success on “luck” rather that their own abilities—sound familiar? Sada explains further. “We often spend a great portion of our time working towards (or hoping and wishing for) good things to happen to us. But while trying to achieve them, people are plagued with the bad habit of doubting themselves and even judging their own ability to get there; sometimes even going as far as labelling themselves as dumb, stupid or useless.”
So, if you find yourself worrying that you think you’re better than you actually are, or perpetually feel like your true abilities will be “found out”, or that your career simply came down to good luck, it could be time to put some easy practices in place to understand your true value as a professional, and thus ask for what you deserve in any role.
MAKE A LIST OF ALL YOUR ACHIEVEMENTS
“One of the best ways to minimise the feelings associated with Imposter Syndrome is to remind yourself of everything you’ve achieved” explains Sada. “An instant reaction for someone experiencing Imposter Syndrome is to disregard their success or attribute it to something or someone else. This is where you need to almost have an internal argument with yourself and perhaps even write down all your accolades. Then you can read them from time to time whenever you get that niggling feeling of feeling like a fraud.”
PHONE A FRIEND
Like most internal struggles, support is key, and having a friend to soundboard off is really important according to Sada. “If you can’t prompt yourself to acknowledge your well-deserved success, tell someone who is in your support network—someone you trust—about how you’re feeling. They will quickly recap for you how hard you’ve worked to achieve your goals, remind you of your attributes and skills that got you your success and challenge those irrational thoughts that are causing you any uncertainty.”
FIND A GO-TO PHRASE
Inspiring quotes may feel a little cliché, but Sada encourages that a little mental reminder of what’s going on in your brain serves as a healthy way to stop the thought in its tracks and keep moving forward. “Remember that all successful people, even those you idealise, are human. Meaning they too doubt their abilities at times and worry they aren’t good enough or are unworthy of their success. Find a song that drives you, a quote that pumps you up or give your best friend a call and get back to kicking butt!”
REMIND YOURSELF THAT IT’S COMMON
The likelihood of Imposter Syndrome coming up again and again is likely, so the best way to deal with it is by reminding yourself that it's common, says Sada. “Whilst there is no known ‘cure’ for Imposter Syndrome, it is important to remind yourself of these things and be aware of what you are experiencing so that you’re not sabotaging your own success.”
To learn more about having confidence in your career, download The Confidence Code by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman ($15).