Even the most successful people suffer from 'Imposter Syndrome'. Our Wellness Editor Caroline Foran explains how to get on top of it for good.
Imposter Syndrome is a phrase with which we're all familiar by now. It's so incredibly common, it's been lovingly referred to as the 'workplace anxiety du jour' in glossy magazines the world over. And though we know it's something that can get under the skin of most people (women more so than men, according to the research), it's still very difficult to nip it in the bud. In The Confidence Kit, I dedicate an entire chapter to understanding imposter syndrome; here, I want to share with you wonderful Beaut readers three smart ways to get on top of your feelings of not being good enough or feeling like a fraud.
First, we need to understand exactly what we mean when we discuss imposter syndrome. It's essentially a disconnect between our public and private self-concepts. We fear that what we put out there is at odds with how we see ourselves privately. We also need to realise that the antidote to imposter syndrome isn't to go and find yourself a string of successes, so don’t go putting additional pressure on yourself here. In fact, research finds that repeated successes were not sufficient enough to break the self-perpetuating nature of imposter syndrome.
Instead, we need to get back into the exercise of cognitive restructuring, which you know by now is all about putting your thoughts on trial and cross-examining them against the evidence. Are you really fooling people? Are the people you are fooling really so incompetent that they couldn’t tell if you, yourself, were entirely incompetent? I explore cognitive restructuring in more depth in the book.
Then, we must prioritise and give more weight and respect to our transferable skills. I’ve always felt that my Bachelor’s degree and my Masters were so vague - Communication Studies and an MA in Film and TV - that I am sometimes afraid to say I have them, in case someone were to ask me a question based on what I should have learned about (such as German Expressionism, which has zero application in my working life). I put them down as nothing more than years spent thinking about what I might like to do when in reality, I definitely came away with skills that I am now applying on a daily basis.
If I want to be a professional juggler I need to develop my skills as a juggler, plain and simple. But if I want to work with people, in a communications role, for example, my social and interpersonal skills and my ability to think critically and creatively are among the wider, more general skills that will lend themselves to countless jobs. These aren’t just skills you gain in education; most of the time, we do the real learning through experience in work. We need to stop being obsessed with the idea of having everything bullet-pointed on paper, which stems from our school days when that's how success and ability was measured. How you problem solve, how you manage situations and the fact that you think innovatively are just as important as the finer details.
Caroline Foran is also one half of the interior design duo GAFF. GAFF is hosting a weekend of festive activities with DFS on Saturday, 24th November & Sunday, 25th November for decor inspiration. Tickets for the pop up in Studio 10, Wicklow Street, Dublin cost €12 per person, of which, all proceeds will go to Peter McVerry Trust. Get yours here.