Have you heard of imposter syndrome? Imposter syndrome is characterized by persistent feelings of inadequacy despite having achieved measurable success. Do other people see you as having your act together while you secretly feel like a failure? If you struggle with persistent negative self evaluation, there are strategies you can use to offset these thoughts.
- Differentiate between feelings and logic. Feelings are temporary and fleeting. Sometimes, people assume their feelings represent truth. This is called emotional reasoning. Ask yourself how much evidence you have to support the idea that you are a failure. Then ask yourself how much evidence you have to support that you are NOT a failure. When we use logic, we usually find enough evidence to support the fact that our feelings are irrational because there is not enough evidence to support our feelings-oriented self evaluations. Just because we feel something doesn’t mean it is truth.
- Set reasonable goals for yourself. When we expect perfection from ourselves, we set ourselves up for feelings of failure and inadequacy. Are you setting yourself up for self-sabotaging by setting goals that are not achievable? If so, break your larger goals into smaller, incremental goals so that you feel a sense of accomplishment when you meet smaller goals towards your larger goals.
- Look for the growth that you achieve in your imperfect journey. Carol Dweck established a model called Growth Mindset in which we celebrate our errors. Our mistakes fuel our fine-tuning, our tendency to self-improve. Do you shame yourself? Instead, acknowledge the improvements you’ve achieved in response to learning from your imperfect past results.
- Stay away from absolutes by eliminating “all” and “never”. Instead, embrace gray area thinking in which you sometimes allow yourself to be good enough rather than your best. No one functions at their best 100% of the time in all areas of functioning. Just the very thought of such is a recipe for burnout.
- Model the encouragement you want to see others give. When we hear others put themselves down, we tend to offer encouragement, cheering them on to help them persevere. Why is it that our self evaluation is so much more harsh? Instead, give yourself grace in the same fashion you extend it to others.
Be wonderfully imperfect and embrace it. You’ll find yourself less stressed, more self accepting, and better equipped to celebrate your big moments when they arrive.