We’ve all heard of it and plenty of us have experienced it, but what actually is Imposter Syndrome, and how harmful is it to buy into feelings of fraudulence?

Very, say the experts.

What is Imposter Syndrome?

A collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success, Medical News Today says Imposter Syndrome “causes people to doubt their achievements and fear that others will expose them as fraudulent”.

Imposter Syndrome can result in self-sabotage at work, and if left unchecked, can be detrimental to mental health too.

You’re not alone

Plenty of men and women in positions of power find themselves plagued by self doubt and feeling like an imposter.

Director of Career Money Life, Sandy Hutchison, shared a good example with us recently:

“A few years ago one of my mentors and my boss at the time, a senior male leader, shared with me that he too experienced Imposter Syndrome at times. You know, that feeling that you shouldn’t be in the role that you are in, that one day they will figure it out and take you away. As irrational as it sounds, many people feel this way, both men and women, regardless of how successful they are. It surprised me to think that someone I respected and looked up to so much, felt this way. He then questioned me as to whether I thought others would be surprised to learn this about me”.

“I realised this self-belief, this inner voice that goes on about not being worthy or good enough, was more about me and my thoughts than how anyone else viewed me. This meant I could choose to buy into this thought pattern or not. It gave me the power to choose how I see things.”

How to curb self-doubt

Use it to your advantage. No one likes feeling like a fraud, but shifting the way you interpret these feelings can be incredibly powerful.

In his book Success Is a Choice, Rick Pinto suggests instead of spiralling into negative thinking, we should harness those unhelpful thoughts and use them as motivation to do better.

Reframe the conversation (aka. it’s not “luck”). Find yourself accrediting your career success to good fortune? Plenty of us are guilty of downplaying our hard work, commitment and intelligence in the workplace, but acknowledging our achievements wholeheartedly is key in keeping self-doubt at bay.

Open up. You’ll be surprised—and liberated—by how many others feel the same way as you do.

Remember your achievements

Have a list of your work achievements and the feedback you’ve received that you’re most proud of, so when feelings of self doubt creep in, you can look back on it.

Over time, your hand in these achievements will start to ring true.