“I’m a fraud! They’re on to me!” comedian and actor Tina Fey once said. Imposter syndrome affects a lot of women, even well-known personalities we would have thought to be immune. Like the talented Meryl Streep who told a journalist that every new project causes her a great deal of anguish: “I don’t know how to act anyway, so why am I doing this.”
Unable to share the unpleasant impression that their successes are not due to their skills, but rather the result of a set of circumstances, women who suffer from imposter syndrome await their inevitable unmasking.
Fortunately, it is possible to get rid of imposter syndrome! Here’s how.
1. Stop trying to make everyone happy
In his book focused on the topic, psychiatrist Christophe André demonstrates that imposter syndrome is real and is a manifestation of poor self-esteem. Sufferers have a distorted vision of how others see them, which is often the cause of the negative way they see themselves. The first step towards freedom is therefore to stop trying to make everyone happy.
2. Don’t take everything personally
Stop believing that others are judging you. Psychologist and coach Bruno Lefebvre advises turning the spotlight on yourself and asking, “what can I do to have a more positive opinion about myself?”
Create a critical and objective distance between your actions, your results and yourself. It is normal to make mistakes. Stanford professor Carol Dweck has shown that it is not intelligence or skills that lead to success, but rather our state of mind and ability to change and learn in order to overcome difficulties.
3. Stop seeking perfection
In the same vein, you need to stop seeking perfection. Make an honest list of your strengths and limitations. You can take training to fill in any gaps, but stay realistic and don’t exhaust yourself trying to achieve an idealized image of yourself. You need to make peace with your limits. To do so, Bruno Lefebvre suggests drawing examples from people we admire and defining their own limitations. This doesn’t mean you cannot hold these role models in high esteem.
Surround yourself with good people—who can provide encouragement and support you when you doubt yourself.
4. Own your decisions and your successes
Focus on your accomplishments and your successes. The road to success is not always easy, and you need to be proud of how you get there. After all, we can learn a lot from our mistakes.
Set yourself small challenges. When Interviewed by Fast Company, Maria Klawe, the first female president of Harvey Mudd College, said she would practice doing what scares her until it doesn’t. These challenges can take several forms. Klawe, for example, managed to gradually overcome her fear of checking into a hotel alone. For others, the challenge might consist of finally daring to ask for a raise.