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What is Imposter Syndrom and How to Over Come it

What is Imposter Syndrom and How to Over Come it

Imposter syndrome is a psychological pattern in which individuals doubt their accomplishments and have a persistent fear of being exposed as a "fraud," despite evidence of their competence or success. People experiencing imposter syndrome often attribute their achievements to luck or external factors rather than their own abilities, and they live in constant fear of being found out as inadequate or incompetent.

Sound familiar?

It does for me. I have personally experienced imposter syndrome at various points in my career. This happened quite a bit, especially earlier in my professional career.

With my first job out of college, I had achieved great success. I was promoted four times and was consistently recognized as a top performer. In spite of my success, I always had doubt in the back of my mind.

“Am I really good at what I do or have I just been lucky?”

“People will find out that I am really not good at what I do.”

“It’s only a matter of time until I’m discovered.”

According to the NIH, imposter syndrome is common and can occur across any age group, gender, profession, or racial demographic. However, the NIH went on the note that individuals from minority groups may be more likely to experience it due to racism, social stigmas, and microaggressions.

This is especially true for AAPI professionals. Asian professionals face the additional challenges of being a perpetual foreigner. Many of us strive to work hard and achieve to live up to the expectations of our immigrant parents and pay back their sacrifices. We also face the harsh realities that while we are perceived as hard workers, we aren’t perceived as leaders. We can work harder than anyone else, yet it’s never enough.

Overcoming imposter syndrome for Asian professionals can be a challenging journey. However, here are several strategies that can help individuals manage and mitigate its effects:

The first step is to acknowledge your feelings. Recognize that imposter syndrome is a common experience and that many other AAPI professionals feel, in spite of their successes. Simply acknowledging and accepting your feelings of inadequacy can be the first step towards overcoming them.

Talk about it with other people. Share your feelings with trusted friends, family members, mentors, or colleagues. Sometimes, just talking about your experiences can provide perspective and reassurance that you're not alone.

Understand and then challenge negative thoughts. Learn to recognize when self-doubt starts creeping in. Once you recognize them, then challenge these negative thoughts with facts. Look at the evidence of your accomplishments and abilities. Develop a list or records of your achievements and positive feedback to remind yourself of your capabilities.

Focus on your strengths or superpowers. When I speak with AAPI leaders for AAPLN content, I always want to know how they got to where they are. I call that an origin story and the hero’s journey. I believe we are all superheroes in our journey. You are a superhero. Identify your unique skills, talents, and accomplishments or superpowers, and find ways to leverage them in your personal and professional life. Celebrate your successes and take pride in your achievements.

Seek support by finding a mentor, a coach or therapist. Depending on your situation, finding support from the right people can help you develop strategies to help you overcome these feelings.

Set realistic expectations and allow yourself to fail. Accept that no one is perfect, that includes you. It's okay to make mistakes or encounter challenges along the way. Failures are temporary setbacks and learning experiences. Focus on the progress and the journey, not perfection.

“I'm Good Enough, I'm Smart Enough, and Doggone It, People Like Me!” This famous line from Stuart Smalley, an old Saturday Night Live skit character, may seem cheesy, but self affirmations aren’t jokes and can really help. Repeat positive affirmations or mantras to yourself regularly, reinforcing beliefs in your abilities and worthiness.

Develop self-compassion. Treat yourself with kindness and compassion, like yuu would a friend facing similar struggles. The best advice we give friends are often ones we need to hear ourselves. Practice self-care activities that promote relaxation and well-being, such as meditation, exercise, or hobbies you enjoy.

Get out of your comfort zone. This means taking action and challenging yourself to step to pursue new opportunities or activities, even if they seem intimidating at first. This can help build your confidence and chip away at imposter syndrome over time.

Remember that overcoming imposter syndrome is a gradual process, and it's okay to seek support and guidance along the way. Whether it’s joining a network like AAPLN, or finding another group, support is crucial in this journey. Lastly, be patient with yourself and celebrate your progress as you work towards greater self-confidence and self-acceptance. Remember, your success is not luck or given to you. You worked hard and earned everything you received. You are not an imposter, but rather the superhero in your journey.


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