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Overcoming Imposter phenomenon and negative self talk

Ayoola Sosan Written by Ayoola Sosan · 1 min read >

While individuals have a role to play in overcoming impostor feelings, it’s important to remember that systems play a significant part, too. “There are ways to build resilience to impostor syndrome, but there are also real changes that need to be made to address equity,” said Salazar-Nuñez. “The problem isn’t necessarily the person; it can also be the setting or culture.”

Tip 1: What’s your story?

Think about negative stories you have dragged with you into adulthood. As with all negative emotions, one of the best ways to manage impostor feelings is to address the cognitive distortions contributing to them.

• Are they true?

• Were they ever?

• Do they serve you well?

• Are the characters still relevant?

Tip 2: Build Evidence

Seek honest, evidence-based feedback from those who know you well. Keep a record of positive feedback. Take your name off your CV and ask someone else what they think of the achievements. Take note of their rational, unbiased account of your successes and talents. How much of you success have you been discounting or attributing elsewhere?

Tip 3: Understand your strengths and weaknesses

Conduct a SWOT analysis to discover what you are best at and to think about how you can minimise your weaknesses. Once you have a deeper understanding of your strengths and weaknesses, you won’t have to spend so much time worrying that you’re not qualified for certain tasks, projects or roles.

Tip 4: Recognise and celebrate your successes

 If someone congratulates you, don’t move on too fast. Pay attention to how you respond and aim to speak more positively about yourself. When you meet a goal or finish an important project, acknowledge that it was your skill and talent that made it happen. And celebrate this.

Tip 5: Overcome perfectionism and overworking

Learn how to set yourself realistic, challenging and achievable goals and know when to stop. Accept honest failures as a part of life’s learning experiences instead of seeing your mistakes as something to be ashamed of. You don’t have to lower the bar, but adjusting your standards for success can make it easier to see and internalize your accomplishments.

Tip 6: Stop saying ‘but’

Practice listening to praise, accepting compliments and drawing nourishment from this. Use the supportive network of people you are building through this course to help you to appreciate the reality of your situation and counter your negative self-talk. You might be surprised how many of your friends and colleagues can relate to how you feel and have also had feelings of self-doubt.

Tip 7: Take Risks

You can counter the tendency to think ‘I’m not good enough’ by deciding to take more risks. This may seem counter-intuitive but, by taking calculated risks and succeeding, you can expand your comfort zone and build a case against your inner critic.

Tip 8: Talk to others

Use the supportive network of people you are building through this course to help you to appreciate the reality of your situation and counter your negative self-talk. You might be surprised by how many of your friends and colleagues can relate to how you feel and have also had feelings of self doubt.

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Chinyere Monye in General
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