Think about a time when you accomplished something great like earning your degree or landing a high-paying job. Did you celebrate yourself, or did it feel too good to be true?
If you experienced the latter, you were likely dealing with imposter syndrome, "a perceived sense of being a fraud," according to Dora Kamau, a mindfulness and meditation teacher at Headspace.
"Despite the accolades, the accomplishments or all of the hard work you put into being wherever you are in your career and your life, you still don't believe that you're good enough, that you belong or that you're capable of doing the work and showing up."
But don't worry, you're not the only one who's dealt with this. Imposter syndrome is a process that 9% to 82% of people experience, with the rate angling higher for communities of color, a study published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine found.
Thankfully, you can process your emotions and boost your confidence through reciting affirmations to yourself and participating in other empowering practices, says Kamau.
Here are a few positive affirmations that Kamau suggests saying to yourself whenever your inner-voice is making you feel small.
- "I am trusting the timing of my life."
- "I trust in my purpose and in my innate power to be where I am."
- "I am, on purpose."
- "I'm doing the best that I can with what I have."
Helpful practices for navigating imposter syndrome
As supportive as affirmations can be, they're not the only tool you should have as you're processing such heavy emotions.
Here are other practices you can consider to help you navigate imposter syndrome, from Kamau:
- Have compassion for yourself by being kinder to you and giving yourself more grace.
- Be aware in the present moment without judging yourself.
- Challenge the thoughts that are making you feel as if you don't belong.
- Express the emotions that you're feeling with people you trust like a close friend or a therapist.
- Journal and write your thoughts on paper to allow the thoughts to "live outside of your body."
Ways that imposter syndrome can present itself in your life
Not sure if what you're feeling is imposter syndrome? Look to this list to help you determine if it is.
You may be dealing with imposter syndrome if after, or right before, a major accomplishment you're experiencing:
- Self-doubt or self-limiting thoughts and beliefs
- Insecurity, low self-esteem or low self-confidence
- Depression or sadness
- Fatigue or lethargic feelings
- Hypervigilance or a fear of being "found out"
"I'll be honest, when I first became a teacher at Headspace, I had imposter syndrome a lot. I had to challenge the different narratives and beliefs that I was holding about why I didn't feel like I belonged," says Kamau.
"And that was really important for me, looking at the evidence, looking at the impact that I've made and reminding myself that I'm here for a purpose, and on purpose."