Dealing with Imposter Syndrome
What am I doing here?
Can they all see right through me?
I don’t know I don’t belong here...
I just got lucky...
Statements like these used to run through my head all the time, as an LPN to RN student, as a new nurse and when I transitioned from subacute rehab to acute MedSurg. I’ve even felt it as I’ve started this nursing page. No matter what I’ve seen in nursing school or throughout my experiences, I felt like I was somewhat less then as a nurse and a person and that people could tell.
Imposter syndrome is described as intense feelings of fraudulence and self-doubt in the face of success. Imposter syndrome often appears among newly qualified nurses and those who progress within the profession, including those who transition into advance practice, management, and non-clinical roles. It can be caused by unrealistic self standards, transitioning in career stages, a pressure to succeed or constant criticism.
Newly qualified nurses are particularly vulnerable, as many of them doubt their knowledge, readiness for qualification and ability to meet the expectations of patients and colleagues and, importantly, themselves. It not only results in lacking a sense of belonging, but also obliterates the confidence to develop.
Effects can include high stress levels, psychological distress and, eventually, burnout. Living with self-doubt and fear of both success and failure can lead to self-handicapping behaviors. As a result, individuals do not seek promotion, leave the profession or even return to their previous role.
Tips for Dealing with Imposter Syndrome:
Recognize the signs.
Watch your self-talk.
Learn to welcome praise.
Reflect on your own history and circumstance.
Invest in positive relationships.
Rethink how you define failure.
Don't be afraid to ask for help.
Let go of your inner perfectionist.
Low self-esteem is the root of imposter syndrome. But take pride in the fact that you graduated from nursing school, met your career goals, or received your advanced practice degrees. Practice positive affirmations. I try to tell myself all the time that I belong, that I deserve this, and that I matter. Although the feelings sometimes rear it’s ugly head, I can use it to motivate myself to be better instead of crippling my growth as a professional.
Always remember that you have worked hard and you deserve to be where you are!