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This is all becoming too much to handle

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Have you ever felt unworthy of your success or accolades? Have you ever wondered whether or not a job offer or promotion at work was somehow a mistake or oversight and that it might be rescinded when the offerer discovered their mistake? If you answered yes to either of the previous questions, it’s quite possible that you, like many other women in the workforce, suffer from imposter syndrome. As laid out in the Harvard Business Review, “imposter syndrome can be defined as a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success.”

“Internally, many of us are picking ourselves apart and hoping that we’re not being found out,” Kishshana Palmer, a Leadership Strategist and the owner of Kishshana Co. told MadameNoire. “People have assigned to us a particular level of confidence to our competence and I think that it can become like a prison to us.”

One of the more common ways that imposter syndrome manifests is an overwhelming fear of failure.

“You are immediately more risk-averse,” added Palmer. “Your desire to win the first time is heightened, which increases the amount of pressure you put on yourself, which makes you feel more like you really don’t have what it takes, but you’re gonna fake it until you make it, which then can begin to mess with your health.”

It can also manifest as work avoidance.

“You know that you are in a heightened state of war with yourself, particularly as it relates to imposter syndrome, when you are avoiding the work that you actually really enjoy,” Palmer went on. “Not procrastinating, but truly avoiding the things that you know you’re gifted at.”

Imposter syndrome is not just a form of self-torment. It can also result in personal and professional consequences if left unchecked. Here are a few ways to bring it under subjection.

Surround yourself with the right people

“Having a personal advisory board, really having a crew that’s a cross-section of folks who you trust and admire who may not always think the way you do [can help],” Palmer advised. “Having folks around who have a high degree of self-awareness about how they approach the world and the length at which they’re giving you advice I think has been really helpful when you need someone to just give you the real.”

Seek mentorship and coaching
“Even though I am a strategist and a coach, I believe that coaches need coaches,” Palmer confessed. “I have a strength coach and she is more experienced than me. She has known me for twenty years and so she’s able to weave the personal and the professional with all of my strengths into the conversation while really pushing me to think and really assess myself in moment and stay with myself. A lot of times with imposter syndrome, it feels like you’re having a disassociative moment where you are looking at yourself, judging yourself, and deciding you’re not good enough.”
Make a habit of giving yourself credit
“Each day, I’m writing down one thing I need to give myself credit for,” Palmer expressed. “That might sound like a simple exercise but I’ve got to say, it is tough, tough, tough. Doing those introspective exercises in an ongoing way helps me to keep two feet on the ground.”
Know your lane and own it

Palmer emphasized the importance of recognizing exactly what you bring to the table and being okay with that.

“[It’s like], here’s what you’ll get, and if that’s something that you’re excited about, excellent. If that’s something that you’re not excited about, I totally understand. Let me connect you with two people who I know you’ll be more excited about,” Palmer expressed. “That’s the way that I have found my way out of getting into the comparison trap cause that’s really easy for us to do and I don’t think that as Black women, we talk about that enough. But in part, imposter syndrome is heightened by the very people that you admire and want to be around. And so you’ll know that you are swimming in imposter syndrome soup if you feel jealousy in ways that you shouldn’t — around other people’s success, around other people’s awards around other people’s accolades. One, you’re not spinning in your own wheelhouse at that moment. Two, you’re looking at somebody else’s grass in a way that is literally erasing your own work.”
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