“Humility is not thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less.”
Success can be as hard to accept as failure. Often, we’re so worried about how others perceive us that we overlook our achievements and build up a flawed picture of ourselves.
Despite clear evidence that I’m doing well, every day is a battle with a nagging feeling that, at any moment, someone is going to tap me on the shoulder and say “We need to have a chat. You shouldn’t be here.”
This feeling of being a fraud is so common it actually has a name, “The Impostor Syndrome”. Some estimates are that 70% of people have the impostor syndrome and apparently it’s particularly common among high-achieving women.
Dealing with the impostor feelings on a daily basis is mentally and physically exhausting. It means living under a constant, imminent threat leads to intense anxiety, crushing self-doubts and second guessing.
Every achievement escalates the feelings of fear, while even the smallest failure confirms the belief of not belonging, of being an outsider, a mistake. It’s pretty much impossible to relax and let my guard down.
That’s why I’ve decided to take action.
I might not be able to get rid of it completely. On the contrary, I need to accept that it may never go away. But I want to learn to be content with small steps, slow but constant improvements, to replace the hard-headed discipline with self-compassion.
Here are five strategies that I’m planning to put into practice.
- Accepting compliments with class. I want to own my achievements and learn to simply say “thank you”.
- Starting a compliment catalogue. I will read it when the impostor syndrome comes calling.
- Focusing on what goes well. I’ll make a conscious effort to shift my attention to successes, not mistakes.
- Slacking off a little. I need to prove to myself that I don’t have to be perfect all the time.
- Ceasing comparisons. They’re subjective, biased and rarely helpful.
Do you ever feel you don’t deserve your achievements? What helps you overcome doubt in your abilities? Please, share your stories in the comment section below.