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Overcoming Imposter Syndrome with ADHD

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Overcoming Imposter Syndrome with ADHD

01/03/2024
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Imposter syndrome can affect anyone regardless of how successful they appear. It’s a psychological phenomenon where you doubt your ability, accomplishments, or talents and fear someone exposing you as a “fraud”.  

People experiencing imposter syndrome often attribute their success to luck rather than skills or qualifications. 

Around 70% of people will experience at least one episode of imposter syndrome, according to The Imposter Phenomenon,  Sakulku J, Alexander J. 

For anyone with ADHD, imposter syndrome can be particularly challenging due to additional ADHD symptoms. ADHD can cause difficulties with focus, organisation, time management, and impulse control. These may lead to struggles in academic or professional settings. As a result, you may face increased pressure to prove yourself or feel like you don’t meet your peers’ expectations.  

Imposter syndrome can exacerbate the challenges of ADHD by amplifying feelings of self-doubt and inadequacy. You may question your abilities and fear being “found out” as incompetent. This can lead to stress, anxiety, and burnout, impacting your well-being and mental health. 

For anyone with ADHD it is important to learn how to challenge negative thought patterns and ask for support. In this blog, we will provide tips on how to overcome imposter syndrome. 

How can imposter syndrome affect you? 

Imposter syndrome can prevent you from reaching your full potential. It can erode self-confidence and create a persistent fear of failure. This leads to the avoidance of opportunities for growth and advancement.  

This pervasive belief of being undeserving or inadequate can result in self-sabotaging behaviours. Such as procrastination  or perfectionism, which hinder progress and perpetuate feelings of inadequacy.  

You may fail to accept recognition for your achievements or downplay your successes. Ultimately, imposter syndrome will have a detrimental effect. 

Do you have imposter syndrome?

Here are some signs that you may be experiencing imposter syndrome:  

Persistent Self-Doubt

You often doubt your abilities and accomplishments, feeling like you’re not as competent as others perceive you to be. 

Attributing Success to Luck or External Factors

Instead of acknowledging your skills and hard work, you attribute your achievements to luck, timing, or other people’s help.  

Fear of Failure

You have an intense fear of failure and worry that others will discover you’re not as capable as they think you are.  

Setting Unrealistic Standards

You set excessively high standards for yourself and feel like you need to prove your worth through perfectionism.  

Discounting Achievements

Even when you accomplish something significant, you dismiss it as insignificant or downplay your success.  

Overworking

You feel the need to overwork or over-prepare to compensate for your perceived inadequacies, leading to burnout and exhaustion.  

Difficulty Accepting Praise

When receiving praise or recognition for your work, you feel uncomfortable or believe that people are being insincere.  

Comparing Yourself to Others

You frequently compare yourself to others and feel inferior or like you don’t measure up.  

Feeling Like a Fraud

Despite evidence of your competence, you believe that you’re fooling others into thinking you’re more capable than you are.  

Avoiding Challenges

You avoid taking on new challenges or opportunities because you’re afraid of failing or people exposing you as a fraud.  

If you identify with several of these signs, you may be experiencing imposter syndrome. Remembering that imposter syndrome is common and doesn’t reflect your actual abilities or worth is essential. 

Asking for support from friends, family, or a mental health professional can help you address these feelings.  

Tips to overcome imposter syndrome 

Recognise Your Achievements 

Keep a journal where you write down your accomplishments, big or small, every day. For example, if you’re a student with ADHD, acknowledge completing assignments on time, participating in class discussions, or mastering a difficult concept. 

Challenge Negative Thoughts

When you catch yourself thinking you’re not good enough, challenge those thoughts with evidence of your past successes. For instance, if you’re working in a fast-paced environment and feeling overwhelmed, remind yourself of previous projects where you excelled under pressure.  

Set Realistic Goals

Break down your goals into smaller tasks to prevent feeling overwhelmed. For example, if you’re a professional with ADHD, instead of aiming to finish an entire project in one sitting, set aside small chunks of time each day to work on specific tasks.  

Practise Self-Compassion

Treat yourself with kindness and understanding, especially when you make mistakes or face setbacks. For instance, if you’re a parent with ADHD feeling guilty for not being as organised as you’d like, remind yourself that it’s okay to ask for help and that your best is always enough.  

Find Support

Surround yourself with people who uplift and support you. Share your feelings of self-doubt with trusted friends or family members who can provide encouragement and perspective. For example, if you’re a business owner with ADHD feeling overwhelmed by self-doubt, connect with other entrepreneurs who understand your challenges and can offer advice and support. 

Find some support groups HERE 

Focus on Growth

Embrace a growth mindset by viewing challenges as opportunities for learning and growth. If you’re a professional with ADHD struggling to stay organised at work, view it as a chance to develop new strategies and skills rather than a reflection of your abilities.  

Celebrate Progress

Acknowledge and celebrate your progress, no matter how small. For example, if you’re a student with ADHD who struggled to concentrate during lectures but improved by using mindfulness techniques, celebrate each session where you maintained focus.  

Take a look at our guide to mindfulness for ADHD HERE 

What next? 

The impact of imposter syndrome cannot be overstated. From undermining confidence and having a fear of failure to limiting potential and hindering personal relationships.  

It creates barriers to success and fulfilment. By recognising the signs of imposter syndrome and addressing its root causes, you can begin to break free from its constraints and unlock your potential.  

Embracing self-compassion, challenging negative self-talk, and seeking support from trusted sources are essential steps in overcoming imposter syndrome. Remember, you are not alone in this struggle, and with perseverance and self-awareness, you can navigate through imposter syndrome and thrive in all aspects of life. 

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