Is Imposter Syndrome stopping you from sharing your knowledge?

Do you have a great idea for an online course but don’t have the confidence to put yourself out there as the expert?

Confidence is something that you work on building over time. It’s not something that we’re born with and it takes many positive experiences in order for you to build up confidence in yourself and your work. Every now and then, we may encounter something that makes us question our ability and if we’re deserving of the position that we’re in.

Designing and developing a superb digital learning experience can be a difficult process. One of the most difficult things can be starting. Developing the confidence in yourself and the value can be the most difficult. Even if you know that you have the expertise, that your achievements and accomplishments are the results of your own hard work, it’s hard to shake feelings of doubt and unworthiness.

These feelings can be collectively referred to as imposter syndrome. Researchers have estimated that around 70% of us will experience this phenomenon at some point in our lives. It’s something that resonates with almost everyone–even professionals that are brimming with confidence and have countless successes under their belt. So how do you deal with those negative feelings? How do you overcome this feeling of inadequacy?


Knowing the signs of imposter syndrome

Coping with and overcoming imposter syndrome starts with understanding and identifying the signs. This is the first step towards recovery and shouldn’t be ignored. Here are the most common signs of imposter syndrome:

  • Having incredibly high standards for yourself.
  • Demanding the impossible from yourself.
  • Fearing failure so much that it makes you stressed or anxious.
  • Refusing to express confidence because you think it will be seen as obnoxious or bragging.
  • Constantly telling yourself that you got lucky with something.
  • Finding it difficult to accept praise from others.
  • Always apologizing to yourself.
  • Ignoring the fact you prepared for something.
  • Convincing yourself that you don’t work hard enough.

These are the main signs of imposter syndrome that you should be looking out for. Once you’ve identified these signs, we can move onto the next step to help you overcome your imposter syndrome.

Understanding the patterns in imposter feelings

Imposter feelings actually follow a pattern. There are five types of “imposters” that you might associate yourself with.

  • Super workers are the type to push themselves extremely hard, holding themselves to much higher standards than what would be considered the norm. This is to prove to themselves that they’re not an imposter, and so they feel like they need to succeed and excel at everything in life.
  • Naturally talented people may find it extremely easy to pick up and grasp certain skills. However, when they struggle to learn something or make slow progress, they might think that they’re not good enough, leading to their imposter syndrome. However, it’s perfectly normal to work hard to hone a skill and not everyone is naturally talented at something.
  • Perfectionists set extremely high standards and accept nothing less than 100% perfection. Even if they don’t reach their impossibly high standards, they’ll feel like a failure. Small mistakes are extremely embarrassing and will make them question their ability. These people are actually extremely good at what they do and have a hard time accepting anything less than complete perfection.
  • Frauds will feel like they’re undeserving of praise. They might feel like they’re not working hard enough, yet they receive a lot of positive feedback. They might feel anxious because they’re worried they’ll be discovered. In reality, they do possess the skill and knowledge to be worthy of that praise.
  • Experts find it difficult to approach something without understanding everything about it first. For example, they might be hesitant to ask questions because they’re worried they’ll look bad if they don’t already know the answer. They might also find it hard to progress in a project because they believe they don’t have the skills to do so. Instead, they’ll continue to improve and practice but never actually put their ability to use.

If these patterns seem familiar to you, then it’s a good indication that you currently feel or have experienced imposter syndrome.

Dealing with imposter syndrome

First, acknowledge that you have imposter syndrome and try to discover the pattern in your feelings. Perhaps you feel like you’re a fraud because of the praise you get at work, or maybe you feel like you’re a perfectionist that finds it hard to accept anything less than the absolute best results. There’s nothing inherently wrong with holding yourself to a higher standard, but it can reach a point where it becomes a detriment to your daily life.

This is where the main difference comes between imposters and non-imposters; the way you respond to those feelings. There’s no intellectual difference between those who suffer from imposter syndrome and those who don’t. Instead, the biggest difference comes in the way we respond to situations that create imposter syndrome.

For example, if someone praises you for your work, it’s fairly normal to be modest and play it down so that you don’t seem like you’re bragging or being obnoxious. However, you can go a step too far and act like you’re undeserving of praise because you got lucky. This leads to the feeling that you’re just a fraud. But this would neglect all of the hard work and effort that you’ve put into something. You might forget that you prepared a lot to complete a task or get the results you have, so it’s important to look back at the journey you took to reach your current position to remind yourself that you did work hard.

It helps to share these feelings with a close colleague, a friend or even a family member. People that know you can offer you the reassurance that what you’re feeling is normal, and they can also help you recover from imposter syndrome but counteracting those negative feelings.

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