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Imposter Syndrome

Have you ever felt like a fake at work? According to NBC news in 2017, roughly 70% of the US population has experienced what's known as impostor syndrome. Harvard Business Review defines imposter syndrome in the workplace as “as a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success.” With so many people reporting this experience, what does one do?


  • Notice yourself: Be aware of your own feelings. Ask yourself if your perceptions about your capabilities are founded. If needed, share this experience with others and see if what you feel about yourself is accurate. Sometimes getting another perspective from a trusted co-worker or supervisor can clarify what you’re noticing about yourself professionally. Also, notice the things at work that have been going well. Although there can be room for improvement, take note of things that happen at the office that feel good or have positive outcomes.

  • Value yourself: Remember what you have done to get to where you are today professionally. The work you have put in to be where you are counts and matters. As a former hiring manager, I reminded the people I hired that I valued them and brought them onto the team for a reason, whether something they presented during their interview, in their resume, or what they'd done on the job. If a hiring manager saw positive traits in you, consider seeing those same traits in yourself.

  • Express yourself: When I experience feeling like an imposter, I find great value in talking about it with others. I commonly find that I am not the only one who questions their validity and competency in the workplace. Knowing I’m not alone in this process is very reassuring. Finding ways to express feelings in general is a great way to alleviate this feeling (and any difficult feeling, at that). Try something recreational like being in the outdoors, making art, exploring new places, or getting a cup of tea or coffee and journaling.


 

Lou Lim is a licensed mental health counselor and registered expressive arts therapist (REAT) with a master's degree in Expressive Therapy and Mental Health Counseling from Lesley University. He is a member of the International Expressive Arts Therapy Association and on the committee for REAT credentialing. He has 13 years of experience in counseling and expressive therapy working with children, adolescents, teenagers, adults, and retirees.


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