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Impostor Syndrome Among PhD Students – Learn How To Fight It!

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Impostor syndrome is quite common among PhD students. A student with impostor syndrome lives in fear that someone will discover that he’s not as smart as they believed. Maybe you look good on paper, or the person made a mistake by admitting you. Thought like these can easily grow and make you feel like a fraud.

Imposter Syndrome In Academia – Achievements Don’t Help

It is important to note that this syndrome is a state of mind and may not be connected with the achievements of a person. Some accomplished students have also suffered from this syndrome since they believe their success is tied to sheer luck.

If you often feel like you are not smart enough to be a PhD student or that there was some mistake when you were admitted, you may be suffering from imposter syndrome. PhD or grad school students often fit into the impostor’s definition. School stress could also worsen the feelings.

As well as feeling like you aren’t good enough, this syndrome also brings low self-esteem, self-doubt, and a lack of motivation. Such feelings may be real, but they limit belief and not the truth.

Impostor Syndrome Grad School – What If You Feel Like A Fraud?

First of all, you should know that several other students feel the same way. If the feelings have lingered on for years, then it may be even more difficult to convince yourself that you are not a bad student or an impostor.

The syndrome affects your mood as well as your performance. It can stunt your progress if you begin to believe that you aren’t smart enough. This would worsen feelings.

There are two reasons why this feeling is difficult to shake off. They include:

  1. Where the imposter syndrome has impeded your progress. You may lag because you worry about not being good enough to be a grad student.
  2. Grad school challenges you and pushes you out of your comfort zone. You may be overwhelmed by stress, and this could worsen the situation.

You can overcome imposter syndrome by changing your mindset. This is the first step. You need to stop feeling as if you aren’t smart enough to handle the program. If you can do this, you would easily see how the feeling has been holding back your progress. You would discover that you are intelligent enough, and your belief is the only barrier to your success.

Techniques To Fight The Imposter Syndrome

If self-doubt starts to set in despite all your efforts to get rid of imposter syndrome, you need to consider any or all of the following techniques:

  • Visualize your graduation ceremony: think about the graduation day as well as the sacrifices you and your family members have made to see you graduate. The thought that you could make them and yourself proud can be the positive energy you need to get over the feeling.
  • Take a walk: even though it seems farfetched, taking a short walk of about 20 minutes could be beneficial. You may worry about time being wasted, which could have been used to write your thesis. On the contrary, walks help increase blood circulation and will allow you to focus better and come up with new ways to write your thesis with ease. Upon returning from such walks, you would find yourself energized for a more productive day. Walking will give you inspiration and creativity.

While walking offers benefits for students with imposter syndrome, it is also a great form of exercise. For better results, it is recommended that you do both exercises above concurrently.

Try to visualize yourself submitting your thesis as you walk, and you will feel a sense of relief almost instantly. This feeling can inspire and motivate you to believe more in yourself.

Visualization May Be Helpful As Well

A visualization is an excellent tool for motivation, and Olympic athletes use it to practice for events. Combining the power of visualization with creativity and a boost of energy from the walk will help you to become more productive.

Lots of students have made progress using these simple steps to get rid of their imposter syndrome. They went from having doubts about ever finishing the program to being confident enough to talk about their thesis with their supervisors. They have also been able to develop an action plan in a couple of weeks.

Whenever you sense that this limiting belief is growing again, see it as what it is – a harmless belief. If you have doubts, talk a few walks, and you will begin to see your progress from a different perspective. It will also give you an insight that will keep you motivated to continue to make progress. You should try to avoid stress as much as possible. Get writing help if you must. Just ensure that you remain positive.

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