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Opinion: Coping with the impostor syndrome

2021-08-06  Frieda Mukufa

Opinion: Coping with the impostor syndrome
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Impostor syndrome is one of the many challenges professionals confront and wrestle with daily, but don’t openly talk about. Often, people who suffer from imposter syndrome battle an internal experience of believing they are not as competent as others perceive them to be. While this definition is usually narrowly applied to intelligence and achievement, it has links to perfectionism and the social context. 

Given the times we are experiencing with Covid-19, falling into the trap of believing you are not good enough is a constant battle. As such, this article serves to provide a little bit of advice on how to cope with imposter syndrome. It could wreak havoc on your emotional and mental wellbeing to the extent of you becoming plagued by unrelenting ruminations, anxiety, stress and possibly depression. However, as much as you are experiencing all these emotions, the reality is often that you actually possess all of the right skills, experience, education, background and talents perfectly suited for the role. In return, your friends often hold you on a higher pedestal because they are aware of your capabilities and the talent you possess.  

As such, here’s some advice: the key is to fight back against the constant feeling that an impostor cloud is hanging over your head. Firstly, you need to acknowledge your feelings and their existence. In doing so, you are confronting your self-defeating thoughts and it’s the start of taking proactive steps to change your mindset. You’ve isolated the enemy and now you can go to war and battle against it. After acknowledging your feelings, it is important that you figure out coping mechanisms that would assist you in beating the voices in your head, because it’s easy to succumb to the voices that constantly run through your mind repeating that you don’t possess the appropriate skills and talents to do your job. Most people sprinkle their success all over the place but pile up their mistakes and misfortunes that grow into a mountain. Then, they look at that mountain and feel that this confirms their own internal beliefs that they are not good enough nor worthy. As someone who wants to overcome these thoughts, instead, stack all of your successes on top of each other—no matter how small or trivial they seem. Soon, they’ll turn into a Manhattan skyscraper. You can then run a mental loop optimising all of the times you’ve triumphed over adversity. Keep playing that over and over again when you feel a wave of insecurity washing over you.

Lastly, you need to share your feelings either with your friends or perhaps a therapist. This will help you navigate your thoughts properly as well as give you the opportunity to not constantly harbour on them. It will also give you the opportunity to see you are not alone and that it happens to the best of us. 

• Frieda Mukufa’s lifestyle section concentrates on women-related issues and parenting every Friday in the New Era newspaper. She also specialises in editing research proposals, proofreading as well as content creation.

2021-08-06  Frieda Mukufa

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