Imposter syndrome is phenomenon described as a psychological pattern where one doubts their accomplishments. People with this condition often have a crippling sense of self-doubt and fear that their co-workers and peers will oust them as a fraud.

In a recent article posted by Cleveland Clinic, Susan Albers, PsyD., describes imposter syndrome as “the feeling that everyone else knows exactly what they’re doing, but you feel lost.” People with this condition devalue themselves and their expertise. Instead of attributing their success to hard work, they claim it was just luck. This leads to a cycle of negative thinking that is linked to anxiety and depression.

While it’s difficult to navigate, it is possible to break the cycle of negative thinking that leads to imposter syndrome. The following strategies can help:

  • Look inward. Take some time to gather yourself and revisit your thoughts. Instead of letting them fester and ingrain themselves into your psyche, try to see where your feelings are coming from. Meditating can have a positive impact on centering yourself and helping you manage stress and anxiety. To learn more, visit this recent blog post, Feeling Fatigued, Overwhelmed? How to Feel Better Fast.
  • Try acceptance. It’s OK to not be OK. Many people feel that thinking negatively about themselves and struggling with thoughts and emotions make them lesser than those around them. Too often, mental health problems are stigmatized and viewed as a weakness. However, you are not alone. Mental health is not a straight line where we are preassigned to feel a certain way forever. Rather, mental health comes in waves and fluctuates as much as the weather. We have our sunny days, and we have our stormy days.
  • Separate fact and fiction. Our emotions often get the better of us and bleed into our perception of events. Remind yourself of what you are good at and what was accomplished due to your hard work. You did X which led to Y. It was not an act of luck that assisted you; rather, it was your work ethic, expertise, and experience.
  • Face your fears. Rather than let yourself be overcome with thoughts of inadequacy, get to the root of the issue. Reframe your thoughts and analyze the issue at hand. Visualize what is causing your distress and find ways to solve that problem. Talk yourself through a simulation of the event and write a list of tasks that must be done to accomplish your assignment.
  • Reach out. Talk with a mentor who can assist you with your thoughts. Those who have been in your position may have anecdotal experiences and advice to share. Reach out to a counselor who can guide you with the right tools to help you understand and face your thoughts.
  • Realize you’re not alone. Feeling like an imposter is something most people face in their careers. Recognize the signs of this condition and understand that you do deserve the praise given to your work. Take control of the situation and remind yourself that you are in the position you’re in due to the hard work and dedication that you put forth.

If your company offers an employee assistance program, or EAP, reach out and use your benefit to speak with a therapist who can help you create tools and routines to break from negative cycles.