If you have heard of the term “imposter syndrome”, you may be wondering what it is. Have you felt like you are not deserving of success? Or think you don’t deserve to be in the place you strived to be at today because you believe you are not doing enough? Have you worried that others may notice you are a phoney? If you nod your head to these questions, you may be experiencing imposter syndrome (IS).

IS can affect anyone and everyone, no matter your gender or social status. It may even happen to you when you least expect it. Most importantly, you should learn how to identify it and manage it in your career life; otherwise, you may find it hard to stay motivated with this added anxiety.

What is imposter syndrome?

IS is a  problem that had affected 74%[1] of workers in Singapore in 2020 alone. The syndrome is when you believe that you are not what others make you and feel undeserving of your achievements. That also makes you feel afraid of being discovered as a fraud.

IS makes you feel like you need to prove yourself constantly, which causes you to exert more pressure and possibly leads to burnout. You want to feel worthy of whatever role you have in work or life, which may usually lead you to become an overachiever and cause self-sabotage.

The five types

There are five variations of IS, and each kind that you may be facing depends on how you perceive the feeling of inadequacy resulting in the different coping mechanisms.

The superhero – this group of people tend to overwork themselves to compensate for their inadequacy.

The expert – these people are constantly unsatisfied with their knowledge and understanding and always need to know everything in the book beforehand.

The soloist – those classified under this category prefers to work as a lone wolf and refuses to ask for help from others out of fear that they may seem incompetent and weak.

The genius – these individuals tend to set unrealistically high goals which they think they can meet but feel devastated when they are unable to. They also believe that you must have the natural ability to master something.

The perfectionist – this category of people is always unsatisfied with the work that they put out and tends to pick on their flaws rather than focus on their strengths.

How can you overcome this obstacle?

The constant self-doubt and fear of being a fake may get tiring in the long run and does no good for your mental health. Lucky for you, there are ways that you can manage and overcome this anxiety.

1. Avoid making comparisons to your colleagues

Although it may be hard to stop comparing yourself to others, you should remember that it is crucial to recognise that everyone has their strengths and weaknesses, even those you are comparing yourself to.

You can turn your human errors into a great learning experience once you perceive your mistakes or weaknesses positively. Even by noting others’ strengths, you can use your observations of others for your improvement.

Understand that you can achieve your goals as others have by taking your tasks one step at a time. You can also find a healthy balance between pressure and motivation to strive harder. Being a master at what you do takes practice and resilience – you do not have to rush the process; trust it instead.

2. Push yourself to ask for help

Reaching out to others for a helping hand may feel daunting, but it can help you take some weight off of your shoulders. You can make good use of the available resources and ask the people around you for help.

You may never know how willing someone can be to help you with your work as long as you ask. A simple act like this does not automatically mean that you look weak or unintelligent. Instead, you may come off as more earnest as you try to find ways to improve your skills.

Having an extra pair of hands to ease your workload can allow you to be more productive as you better understand how you can do your job better. Do yourself a favour and do not be afraid to ask for help.

3. Be patient with yourself

You are bound to go through many learning curves in adulthood as an individual. Some are easier, while others may be harder; if you fail the first time, try not to kick yourself for it. Accept that failure happens and change your mindset to view setbacks as a motivation to do better.

A great way to let go of negativity is to give yourself positive affirmations and encouragement. Self-affirmation can help you gradually build confidence and discover your worth. Say it out loud or repeat it in your head, and do what works for you. It may take time to become an expert at your job or passion in life, so take a breather to enjoy the journey of learning and self-discovery.

Build up the courage to face any challenge in your career despite the mistakes you may make and embrace the humanness of resilience.

Conclusion

IS can be tricky to handle as it can be rooted in other issues. As long as you know how to recognise the problem and combat them, you can become capable of removing the unhelpful self-doubt.

It may be tough to go through issues like these alone, and you may need someone to help you gain the confidence you need for the workforce. At BestOfMe, our professionals can provide the personal coaching services you need to unlock the best version of yourself.

Our coaches can help you understand problems like IS at work and help you through them. Find out more about our online coaching platform from Singapore and bring out the best in you today.

[1] Team Asana. (2021, January 14). Anatomy of Work Index 2021: Singapore Findings [Infographic]. The Asana Blog. Retrieved May 17, 2022, from https://blog.asana.com/2021/01/sg-anatomy-of-work-infographic/#close

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