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How to deal with imposter syndrome

Letters live.

had a conversation with my colleague Sahitya in WOO (Women of Otago), and she mentioned how imposter syndrome has been prevalent in females at the workplace. Research also indicates high levels of impostor syndrome found in female academics (Vaughn et al,, 2019).

Today, I will share some thoughts about how to deal with imposter syndrome, especially at the workplace. However, I am no psychotherapist nor psychiatrist. If you find yourself suffering a lot from imposter syndrome, you should approach a therapist for further consultation.

So first, what is imposter syndrome? Imposter syndrome, also called perceived fraudulence, involves feelings of self-doubt and personal incompetence that persist despite your education, experience, and accomplishments (healthline, 2021). Unfortunately, just like depression, imposter syndrome is mental suffering that is difficult to notice by the people around us.

A person can be acknowledged as professional or even with a strong personality, but they are overwhelmed by feelings of self-doubt and anxiety. It is a matter of time for them to be burnt out or fall into depression. Some companies have launched corporate programs or formed a healthier corporate culture to mitigate potential mental issues for their employees. However, competition levels and working environments are different in different industries, and people have different personalities. Therefore, there is no one-size-fits-all solution for corporations to eliminate mental issues such as imposter syndrome once for all.

Therefore, I believe each individual should work their way out to find the proper solutions of avoiding mental issues which fit them the most. But, again, I am not indicating that the working environment is not important at all. I cannot emphasise the corporate culture and the people we work with, but it is always our call to step back or step forward.

Lake Hawea 丨 Kun Lu

Then, how to deal with imposter syndrome?

Dr. Daniel Siegel invented COAL to create a mindful awareness to pay attention to positive qualities for your well-being.

C stands for curiosity (inquiring without being judgmental). Create awareness by asking questions like, "Have I been self-doubting when my colleagues complement my work?"

O stands for openness (having the freedom to experience what is occurring as simply the truth, without judgments). It is okay for you to feel any emotions related to imposter syndrome. The feeling is not us. When we feel upset, we say, "I am upset." However, the sense of sadness will go away, but we still ourselves without it. So, you are not the emotion. You are just feeling it at the moment.

A stands for Acceptance (taking as a given the reality of and the need to be precisely where you are). It is time to take a step forward, to aware that you are experiencing some mental difficulties. And you are better off if you know what you are dealing with.

L stands for love (being kind, compassionate, and empathetic to others and to yourself). Interestingly, when someone put hatred on us, and we love them back, the negative influence on our feelings will automatically disappear.

I want to point out that none of the concepts mentioned above asks you to fight against imposter syndrome. But quite the opposite. Take a pause, and wake up your compassion and love towards you and people or things around you. Feelings come from our thoughts, and our thoughts come from our imagination. If we fight against depression, it will become more significant as we aggregate our imagination.


Book to read: "The Mindful Brain" ------ Dr. Daniel Siegel

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