A new study finds that 53% of women have experienced imposter syndrome. Author and leading authority on Mental Toughness, Penny Mallory reveals what Imposter Syndrome is and why mental toughness can be the key to overcoming it:

What is Imposter Syndrome?

Imposter Syndrome is something that is extremely common in the workplace and in business settings. It refers to people who doubt their skills, talents and ability to perform their job or be in the position they are in, and have a fear of being discovered as a fraud or ‘imposter’.

Someone with Imposter Syndrome may believe they don’t deserve to be in the position of power or authority they have or earn as much money as they should. It’s something that is extremely common among women and high achievers.

How to overcome Imposter Syndrome

Remind yourself where you’ve come from

It’s essential to keep reminding yourself where you’ve come from, what you’ve achieved and why you’re in the position you’re in. People have seen and will continue to see your valuable qualities, skills and experiences that you bring to the party.

Be careful how you think about yourself

A key factor of overcoming Imposter Syndrome is making sure you be careful how you think about yourself. Doubting your ability can easily and quickly turn into a real belief about yourself which can continue to perpetuate the idea that you’re somehow not good enough.

Try and regain a sense of control

Feeling like you’re in control of your life rather than a passenger is key. Start to visualise how things could be if everything went your way. Create a picture of what you’re after – which is in this case staying awake. Set aside the things you can’t control and focus on the things you can.

Don’t compare yourself to others

We all have different strengths, weaknesses, fears and dreams. Don’t be tempted to compare your success to someone else’s, it’s all relative and no one knows the challenges or obstacles that another person has faced to get to where they are. What’s important is that you’re giving 100% to achieve what you want, not the success, or failure, or your peers.

Look at a challenge as an opportunity

Remember that things won’t always go your way but there is always something to be learnt from whatever happens. Taking learning from every experience is so important. For example, in rallying they say, if you’re not crashing you’re not trying hard enough. Sometimes you need to ‘crash’ to find your limit and discover what is possible. So rather than worrying that you don’t deserve to be where you are, see the fact you are as a challenge and continue to enjoy the opportunity.

Don’t wallow in negativity

Resilience is our ability to adapt, recover quickly and bounce back when things don’t go as we had planned or hoped. We all experience negative thoughts from time to time, but resilient people don’t wallow or dwell on them or on failure; they acknowledge the situation, learn lessons from mistakes and move forward. They are mentally tough and they are more likely to thrive.

Start to think of ‘failure’ as ‘learning’

A lot of negative thoughts come from the fear of failure. Many people get so caught up in their fear of failure that it prevents them from taking risks and learning new things. So it’s key to change the way we think of failure. Instead of ‘failure’, change your perspective so that you see it as ‘learning’. No one ever started out being brilliant. Everyone learned their skills through exploration, deliberate practice, hard work, endeavour and resilience. Your actions and behaviours come from what you think, and how you think. To behave differently you have to think differently.

Editor at Workplace Wellbeing Professional | Website | + posts

Joanne is the editor for Workplace Wellbeing Professional and has a keen interest in promoting the safety and wellbeing of the global workforce. After earning a bachelor's degree in English literature and media studies, she taught English in China and Vietnam for two years. Before joining Work Well Pro, Joanne worked as a marketing coordinator for luxury property, where her responsibilities included blog writing, photography, and video creation.