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Day 4: 5 steps to overcome imposter syndrome for burnt out medics

Imposter syndrome has always haunted me.

Thoughts like “I’m not good enough” and “Everyone will soon realise I’m an idiot” used to plague my mind and sap every ounce of my confidence.

It led to depression, anxiety and hopelessness.

Until I found an expert in T.E.A.M CBT, a structured form of cognitive therapy.

Here’s how I changed my thought “I’m not good enough” and unleashed some joy.

1) I got specific

I chose one specific moment in time when I felt like an imposter, then wrote down all of the thoughts and feelings I experienced in that moment on a T.E.A.M ‘Daily Mood Log’ document.

2) I reframed

I looked at each ‘negative’ thought and feeling and wrote down 5 ‘positive’ values and advantages these provided

3) I made a cost benefit decision

I saw all of the positives, asked myself if I was willing to give them up to try to defeat these painful thoughts, then chose to.

4) I found distortions in the thoughts

I used a checklist and found multiple ‘cognitive distortions’ in this thought eg ‘black and white thinking’ — my performance is never truly good or bad, its always somewhere in between. The stark terms added to the pain.

5) I used role play to defeat the thought

My therapist played the role of my negative thought and I had to challenge it like a lawyer in court. If I failed we swapped roles to demonstrate how they would defeat it. We kept swapping until I defeated the thought in a ‘huge’ way.

My counter thought: ‘My imposter syndrome is a secret superpower. It’s keep me humble and on track with life long learning and development. Both are essential to being a good ‘enough’ doctor.’

As soon as I uttered the words, I believed they were true on a gut level. I no longer believed ‘I’m not good enough’. It actually seemed absurd to think that way.

As soon as my thought changed my feelings changed to relief, confidence and hope.

It was life changing.

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