There is no simple cause or overnight fix, sadly. Some research suggests that Imposter Syndrome could stem back as far as childhood, eg through being labeled as the “intelligent” or “perfect” child. Not that we need to blame our parents for more things !
However I have found some simple actions that work for me to reduce the fear and anxiety that is associated with Imposter Syndrome:
Tell the People Close to You
Obviously my wife saw the signs in me, but I also told my business partner. This actually made a good partnership great. He can identify when I move into “the imposter cycle” and create awareness for me (he’s also pretty good at telling me when I can genuinely do better). Once others know about your fear and anxiety they can give you more nuanced feedback that helps you to see matters more clearly.
At the very least, when you tell others there are fewer people for you to be concerned about finding out that you are an imposter !
Utilise Mentors, Coaches and Advisors
Unfortunately, I still can’t see achievement as most do. This has become more risky and important for me now that I have my own business. An external mentor, coach or trusted advisor can go a long way to ensuring you set reasonable goals, review your achievements in a balanced way, and don’t burn out, in a way that complements the support you get from friends and family.
Lastly, Be Kind to Yourself
I still catch myself “overpreparing” because I have an excessive fear of failure. However, I am getting better at dealing with situations as they evolve rather than trying to anticipate issues all the time. The time I would spend working out scenarios, I now have as downtime with family or friends – and, ironically, that downtime actually allows me to see situations and my true part in them far more clearly than before.
So next time my wife casually tells me what she really thinks of me, I don’t think I will be so worried.