When you are on a path of growth, it feels great to see progress both internally and externally. This progress is confirmation that you are moving in the right direction. It fuels you to continue doing what you are doing.
But have you ever felt like you are not supposed to be where you are? Sometimes there exist moments when your mind has not caught up with what you have achieved. Mentally, you feel on the same level as before, but in reality, you have grown. This is known as Impostor Syndrome.
"Impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon, impostorism, fraud syndrome or the impostor experience) is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a "fraud". Despite external evidence of their competence, those experiencing this phenomenon remain convinced that they are frauds, and do not deserve all they have achieved."
Does it sound familiar to you? If yes, then you, like me, are one of those people who, at times or often, refuse to believe their success. This sensation may be accompanied by anxiety, stress, and, in some cases, depression. My personal feeling has been that of unworthiness. I did not understand why I found myself in a company of great people or enjoying certain perks and benefits that successful people usually do.
I have been invited to exclusive events, dinners, and gatherings that are quite difficult to get into unless you know the insiders. I have become part of social circles, both offline and online, that seem too good to be true.
"Better shut up and listen. Because if I say something, they'll regret inviting me!" Yes, those are real thoughts that I had. However, they are now disappearing, and only distant echoes remain. How do you get rid of your impostor syndrome?
"One of the most attractive qualities in a person is acceptance."—Kyle Eschenroeder, 21 Proven Ways To Overcome Impostor Syndrome
Here is the approach that helped me:
- Take a step back to view the whole picture. Come up with personal key performance indicators (KPIs) and evaluate how they changed over the years. See any improvement? Did the numbers grow? If yes, you should feel better about yourself because you earned it.
- Learn to take compliments. Unless you associate, by chance, with disingenuous people who want to take advantage of you, most people's compliments aimed at you, written or verbal, are genuine. Do not downplay them. Instead, say "Thank you." These two words are an act of acknowledgment, which will help you accept your achievement as authentic. As my mentor once told me, "Nobody likes the humble pie."
- Embrace discomfort. Comfort is the real enemy of progress. Rarely do you feel at ease when you find yourself in unexplored territory. But that tingly sensation is what reminds you of your vitality. You are alive! The good thing is that, as you explore further, comfort finds you in the new place. You assimilate. So, take a deep breath and just do it!
Creating real wealth requires as much work on your internal state as on the external, physical plane. Impostor Syndrome is not as bad when you understand what it is and where it comes from. I would go as far as saying that it has been net positive in my life situation because it forced me to keep learning so that I could one day match those who are "above" me.
Remember, there is always room to grow.
"Never be the smartest person in the room."—Michael Dell