As a therapist, I've worked with many high-achieving people who don't feel worthy of their success. Whether it was a recent college graduate who had landed a high-paying job, or a mature adult who had just received another promotion, all of these people suffer from impostor syndrome.
Impostor syndrome involves feelings of inadequacy and chronic self-doubt, despite evidence to the contrary. No matter how successful these individuals were, they felt like frauds and their beliefs robbed them of mental strength. They thought they just weren't good enough to compete at a higher level and ultimately, their bad mental habits sabotaged their success.
There was one young entrepreneur in particular whom I worked with whose products were in high demand. Even though he was wildly successful, he attributed his good fortune to good luck. He lived in constant fear that people would find out he wasn't smart or savvy enough to operate a successful business.
His anxiety kept him from enjoying his accomplishments. And his self-limiting beliefs prevented him from achieving the next level of success.
With help, he was able to change the way he viewed himself. And when his thoughts changed, his behavior changed as well. Once he started believing he was deserving of everything he had achieved, he was able to launch more products and reach new heights of success.
How to Stop Feeling Like an Impostor
If you've ever felt like you aren't good enough, you're not alone. However, if you're not careful, those feelings can keep you from reaching your greatest potential. The good news is that you can take steps to change your outlook so you can embrace your accomplishments.
Here are five ways to banish the belief that you're not good enough:
1. Acknowledge Your Strengths
You may have received a "lucky break," but don't chalk up all of your success to good luck. Acknowledge that you have legitimate talent. Otherwise, you wouldn't be where you are today.
Write down your accomplishments and your strengths. Read over your list regularly--especially when you're feeling down. Reminding yourself of your strengths can help chip away at your core belief that you aren't good enough to be successful.
2. Share Your Passions With Others
It's easy to forget how far you've come and how much you've learned. Teaching a class, starting a blog, or mentoring another professional can remind you of your accomplishments. Sharing your knowledge can also help you stay passionate about what you're doing so you don't burn out.
3. Address Your Self-Doubt
When self-doubt creeps in, don't ignore it--address it. Respond to harsh self-criticism with something more compassionate. Talk to yourself like a trusted friend and refuse to believe your unrealistic, negative inner monologue.
4. Give Yourself Permission to Play
Changing your behavior is instrumental in changing the way you feel. Don't forget to do the things you love. Give yourself permission to slack off sometimes so you don't take yourself and your work too seriously. Doing so will help you enjoy the fruits of your labor, which can enable you to see that you deserve all that you've earned.
5. Accept Compliments Gracefully
People with impostor syndrome too often shrug off kind words from others. They make excuses for their success or minimize their accomplishments. Commit to accepting compliments gracefully by offering a simple "thank you" when others acknowledge your work.
When to Seek Professional Help
If despite your best efforts, you continue to feel like an impostor, seek professional help; a trained therapist can help you overcome impostor syndrome. If left unchecked, feeling like a fraud can lead to anxiety and depression.