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Embracing self-doubt

Imposter syndrome is widely assumed as debilitating, but imposter thoughts can be a source of fuel. It can motivate us to work harder to prove ourselves and work smarter to fill the gaps in our knowledge and skills.

The best way to harness this new potential is to move past the negative emotion and lean further into the imposter feelings. Focusing on the perceived competence gap between you and your peers and putting your energy towards closing it might give you the edge.

@mrfrost

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Using the Imposter syndrome as motivation

The imposter syndrome is the feeling that you are unworthy of your accomplishments at work and that you will be exposed as a fake. People who experience imposter syndrome perceive it as harmful to their success.

But the behaviours that the 'imposters' show to compensate for their self-doubt can make them better at their jobs and motivate them to outperform their non-imposter peers in interpersonal skills.

Over 70% of people are affected by imposter thoughts at some point in their careers.

'Imposters' have perfectionistic tendencies. They often feel overwhelmed and disappointed if they are unable to fulfil their perfectionist goals. A cycle starts where imposters can't accept positive feedback on their work. A gap develops in how individuals perceive their own competence compared to how competent they really are.

In a study, workers experiencing imposter thoughts were rated more interpersonally effective and better collaborators. There's no significant difference in competence between those who have imposter thoughts and those who are not.

Self-doubt leads 'imposters' to put extra effort into their interpersonal connections and may lead to outperforming their non-imposter colleagues.

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RELATED IDEAS

  1. Instead of a constant judgement of your thoughts, we must find acceptance and get curious over the feelings, dumping the negativity around them.
  2. Delving a bit into our own childhood, we can try to be compassionate towards ourselves, gently handling our emotions and worries.
  3. Realize that the feeling of impostor syndrome is just a byproduct of being out of your comfort zone, and into the learning zone.
  4. Make use of the impostor syndrome to work hard and push yourself to improvise, for yourself.
  5. Engage with such feelings in a healthy, objective way and understand that your achievements are a sign of your intelligence.

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IDEAS

  • Become aware of your safety and breathing. Your fight or flight response may be in overdrive. 
  • Take note of five things you can see, four things you can hear, three things you can touch, two things you can smell, and one thing you can taste.
  • Quiet your fears by visualizing a stream flowing past you. Each time a thought pops into your head, imagine the thought as a leaf on the stream.

Offload to people you trust when you’re in the grip. You might be surprised to hear how many other people have experienced impostor syndrome.