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5 tips to beat Imposter Syndrome

Imposter Syndrome can be a major source of anxiety for many people, but it is beatable. Find out how you can get past it here.

Imposter Syndrome can be a big problem for anyone, especially in a tough business like recruitment. First identified in 1978, this refers to feelings of inadequacy and not being good enough that make people feel like frauds, even if they are actually extremely talented professionals.

It’s not particularly rare, and studies show as many as 70 per cent of us will experience at least one period of feeling like an imposter. If you’re struggling with this at the moment, we can help; here are our top five tips for beating Imposter Syndrome and showing yourself that you deserve to be in your current role.

Seek out a mentor

The problem with Imposter Syndrome is that your opinions about yourself aren’t accurate, making it hard for you to see your own accomplishments and how impressive they are. However, if you can find a mentor you trust, they can provide you with the truth about your ability; while also helping you shore up any actual weaknesses.

Sometimes, we can’t see what we’re capable of until somebody else tells us. In fact, 65 per cent of female CEOs reported they only realised their potential due to another person telling them they were talented enough. Having a mentor to help you in your career can help you get rid of Imposter Syndrome.

Remember you’re not alone

Feelings of isolation can make Imposter Syndrome a lot worse. However, as we mentioned above, most people will experience it in their lives, so it’s important to remember that you aren’t alone. Chances are, the people you look up to in your business life also feel like they’re frauds from time to time.

Everyone from actor Tom Hanks to Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, have dealt with Imposter Syndrome at some of the most successful moments of their career. Sandberg even channelled this into her influential Lean In movement, helping women dealing with a feeling they don’t deserve success to realise their worth and potential.

Give yourself a hug (no, really)

This might sound like an odd form of self-care – and perhaps not one you feel comfortable doing in a crowded office – but it’s actually backed up by science. As Psychology Compass points out, applying compassionate body language to yourself can help release the hormone oxytocin, which produces feelings of safety in your brain.

The trick is to observe the body language you identify as compassionate in others. This could be a hug, or maybe someone patting you on the shoulder or stroking your hand. Once you identify what you count as compassionate, you can start applying it to yourself. If you work from home with a pet, stroking a dog or cat can have a similar effect.

Strike a pose

Social psychologist Amy Cuddy gave a TED Talk about body language, and one of the things she identified was the effect power posing can have on your thought processes. She describes this as standing like Wonder Woman, holding a powerful stance for around two minutes.

According to her research, this reduces stress and increases how confident and authentic you feel. These act nicely as counters to Imposter Syndrome, which makes you feel inauthentic and saps your confidence. Although again, you might not feel comfortable doing this in a crowded office, the science shows that it can help.

Plan for failure

Finally, another issue with Imposter Syndrome is that small failures can be seen by you as proof that you’re unqualified and no good at your job. However, everybody makes mistakes, and failure is a natural part of any business, particularly in a high-pressure industry like recruitment.

Dr Ellen Hendriksen, a clinical psychologist at Boston University’s Center for Anxiety and Related Disorders, recommends planning this into every piece of work you do. She quotes her neighbour telling their child: “Here’s your new bike. You have to fall off at least ten times before you get good.” This is something you should remember, even going as far as assuming your first attempt at something will fail.

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