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Imposter Syndrome, Anxiety, and You, Pt. 3: 4 Ways to Overcome Imposter Syndrome

Welcome back for the third and final part of my series on imposter syndrome! If you haven’t read the first two parts yet, I encourage you to do so here and here.

If you joined me last time, you’ll remember that we covered what imposter syndrome is, its history within the world of mental health, and what groups of people it typically affects and the various anxiety disorders it tends to be heavily associated with.

To close out this series, I’d like to talk a bit about what we can do to overcome imposter syndrome in our own lives so we can be more fulfilled, successful, and proud of our own accomplishments without feeling like a fraud.

Without further ado, here are four coping skills I’ve found that have helped me and countless others deal with imposter syndrome and separate fact from perception.

1. Keep track of examples of your successes.

One of the best ways I’ve found to combat imposter syndrome in my own life is to keep track of my accomplishments, whether they’re in my career or my personal life, regardless of how big or small they are.

Just got a raise? Write it down! Tell people about it! Commemorate the occasion by treating yourself to something you love. Finally overcame something at school that you’ve been dreading? Be proud and remember how much effort it took to complete it! Got an award or certification of some kind recently? Take photos of the event so you can look back on it later!

Basically, never minimize your accomplishments. Be aware of them, and more importantly, be proud of yourself--you deserve it. Don’t just attribute your achievements to factors beyond your control. You did that; your success didn’t just happen for no reason!

2. Talk to someone you trust when you feel like a fraud or a failure.

Another coping skill that has helped me deal with perceived feelings of fraudulence in my life is to express those feelings to someone I’m close to. It’s easy for us as people prone to imposter syndrome to get stuck in our own heads and start thinking that our narrow perception of things is always the truth, even when it doesn’t take much sleuthing to tell that obviously isn’t the case.

Talk with a friend, family member, or even your therapist when you feel like your imposter syndrome is affecting the way you perceive your successes. Getting another person’s opinion can make all the difference between feeling like a failure and feeling competent, valuable, and worthy of your success.

3. Always remember that you’re not alone.

You are not the first or the last person to ever struggle with imposter syndrome and self-confidence issues; in fact, I’d wager that even the most seemingly outwardly confident people have had to overcome their self-doubt at some point. Studies have shown that as many as 70% of men and women from all walks of life have struggled with imposter syndrome in their lives.

To be clear, this isn’t to minimize your feelings or invalidate what you’re experiencing at all. Rather, remembering that imposter syndrome is merely a manifestation of anxiety that people everywhere experience can help you better understand and work through why you feel like a fraud in the first place.

Even the people you look up to in your life have dealt with anxiety and feelings of self-doubt. Think of the most successful people you know--yep, chances are, they’ve gone through the same thing you’re feeling, too!

4. Stop comparing yourself to others.

I’ll be the first to admit that this one is personally really, really hard for me. I’m constantly comparing myself to my peers, my friends, and my family members to measure my successes, and over time I’ve realized this is an extremely toxic way of thinking.

Realize that your achievements are different from other people’s, and that’s okay. Realize that your path to success is going to be different from everyone else’s, and that’s okay. Measuring your successes by monetary gain or popularity or any other self-imposed metric will only make you obsess over the minute details without stopping to look at the big picture and actually be proud of the whole range of your accomplishments.

If you catch yourself comparing yourself to someone else, stop and try to consciously change the narrative in your mind. Instead of thinking, “How can I be more like this person?” Or, “How do I measure up to this person?” Think, “What can I do to better myself?” Or, “How have I improved lately?” Or, better yet, “How can I be kinder to myself?”

I hope this series on imposter syndrome has been as enlightening for you as it has for me. I’ve come a long way with overcoming my own feelings of perceived fraudulence and self-doubt by using these coping mechanisms and better understanding the ways in which imposter syndrome manifests, particularly for those with anxiety disorders.

In short, focus on improving rather than obsessing over your failures, and talk to someone you trust when you feel alone. Most importantly, never be afraid to be proud of your achievements!

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