Do you ever feel as if you don’t belong? Are you fearful that your friends are going to discover you as a fraud when in reality you’re not? Do you doubt your accomplishments? If the answer to all these questions is yes, then you are under the influence of imposter syndrome.
Every person experiences imposter syndrome at some point in their life. It affects people from all walks of life be it men, women, students, managers, executives, and the list goes on.
Let’s have a better understanding of imposter syndrome.
What Is Imposter Syndrome?
Imposter syndrome occurs when you feel phony and doubtful. You feel as if your friends or colleagues are going to label you as a fraud and that you don’t belong where you are. You doubt your accomplishments and feel that you are able to succeed because of your luck. Imposter syndrome can impact anyone regardless of their skill level, social class, educational and professional background.
Signs of Imposter Syndrome
It is important to be aware of the signs of imposter syndrome. Here’s a comprehensive list:
- Fear of not living up to people’s expectations
- Sabotaging one’s own success
- Feeling underconfident about one’s competence and skills
- Feeling disappointed when unable to meet a goal
- Criticizing one’s performance
For some people, imposter syndrome can be a source of motivation but at the cost of constant anxiety. You might work extra hard or overwork to ensure that nobody finds out you’re a fraud.
Moreover, if you succeed at, for instance, a class presentation, you force yourself to think that this was only possible because you stayed up late at night and not because you worked hard.
A worrying factor about imposter syndrome is the inability to internalize success. even if you smoothly ail through a performance or assignment, you continue to question your abilities. You question your right of being there.
What Does It Feel Like?
a person suffering from imposter syndrome is in a conflict between their own self-perception and what others hold about them. Even when people praise their skills and talents, they attribute their success to either good timings or sheer luck. You refuse to give credit to your own hard work and constantly fear that others might soon feel the same.
Consequently, you push yourself hard to:
- Prevent others from uncovering your failures and shortcomings
- Become capable of roles that you believe you don’t deserve
- Makeup alternatives for what you believe as a lack of intelligence
According to a study by KPMG, women experience this syndrome more than men. As per the recent study, out of 750 working women, 75% experienced it at some point in their career. also, 85% of these women admitted that they put more pressure on themselves than their male colleagues.
Some of these feelings have been fueled by the lack of women at the C-suite level.
5 Types of Imposter Syndrome
There are 5 different types of imposter syndrome:
Perfectionists g through a great deal of anxiety and pressure because they are never satisfied with themselves. Instead of appreciating themselves, they find flaws and mistakes in every little thing. They put a lot of pressure on themselves as a result of which they go through constant anxiety.
These individuals are a little on hard themselves almost all the time. In order to eliminate the feeling of inadequacy, they push themselves to work as hard as possible.
These people always underrate and underestimate themselves. Although they might be highly skilled, they still feel they haven’t done enough. They are never satisfied with their level of understanding hence are always trying to learn as much as possible.
The Natural Genius
These guys are exceptionally hard on themselves. They set really high goals for themselves and feel disappointed when unable to achieve them on the first attempt.
People in this category prefer to work alone. They consider making for other’s assistance as a sign of weakness. They tend to take all the burden on themselves and reject any kind of help.
Causes of Imposter Syndrome
There’s no single answer to what causes people to experience imposter syndrome. It either has to do with a person’s personality traits or behavioral and family reasons. Sometimes childhood experiences can also trigger imposter syndrome. For instance, if you had parents who were over-critical of you or did unnecessary comparisons, chances are that you might go through imposter syndrome at some point in your life. If your parents were never satisfied with your grades, the probability is that you might carry a sense of insecurity in your adulthood. This is one reason why people who g through imposter syndrome are never satisfied with their work and are too hard on themselves.
Apart from this, external factors can also spur imposter syndrome. If you were discriminated against at some point in your life, you may go through imposter syndrome. You internalize that in order o be loved or liked, they have to keep pushing themselves beyond the edge.
In some cases, your personality also plays a role. If you have had anxiety issues, then you might feel anxious about very small things.
Another reason could be when you take on new responsibilities. All of us want our dream job. But what happens when we finally get it? We feel nervous and doubt ourselves. That is normal t feel as we are overtaken by fear at that time. but these feelings usually subside as people settle in their new roles and get familiar with people around them. However, it gets alarming when such feelings become stronger. And that occurs when people don’t get the encouragement, support, and validation from peers around them.
Questions to Ponder Over
Once you have identified that you have imposter syndrome, you need to ask yourself some questions:
- Do you criticize yourself for the smallest flaws and mistakes at work?
- What do you attribute your success to?
- Are you sensitive to constructive criticism?
- Are you afraid you will be termed as a fraud?
- Do you underestimate your skills and expertise?
Regardless of the cause, the intention should be to curb this feeling and get rid of it. Let’s look at some of the ways in which you can overcome it.
How to Overcome Imposter Syndrome?
In order to get past imposter syndrome, try asking yourself the following questions:
- Am I worthy of love?
- Do I need to be perfect to seek other people’s approval?
- What beliefs do I have about myself?
Some of the beliefs are deeply ingrained in our minds. so, in order to overcome this syndrome, you have o confront these beliefs and try getting rid of them. Some of the techniques that you can do to achieve this are given below;
It is always a good idea t take to other people about how you feel. It relaxes you and prevents sudden outbursts. Also, hiding your feelings and pushing them under the rug is just detrimental. It’s better to let them out of your system whenever possible.
Analyze Your Abilities
If you have long-held beliefs about your incompetence, then start with listing down your accomplishments. Assess your abilities and identify the areas where you have been performing well. Once you have everything in front of you, compare it with your self-assessment.
Take Small Steps
Again don’t be too hard on yourself. Instead of striving hard to do everything perfectly, do things in a reasonable way. Don’t forget to appreciate and reward yourself for what you do regardless of how big or small.
Fight the Negative Thoughts
People with this syndrome have a chain of negative thoughts in their minds. But, you can fight these off.
Once you assess your abilities and accomplishments, you are in a position to question your thoughts. Ask yourself if they are rational? Question yourself if you should still consider yourself as a loser or fraud after all that you have achieved?
Comparisons with others fuel feelings of insecurity. When you compare yourself with others, you don’t feel satisfied with yourself or your situation. You end up finding some faults in yourself that ignite the feeling of not being enough. Your sense of belonging diminishes leading to anxiety and depression.
So, stop comparing. Instead, meet people and listen to them to learn from their situations and mistakes. This will make you realize that everyone goes through a different situation and are unique in their own way.
Use Social Media in Moderation
Excessive use of social media can be dangerous. If you portray an image that is not true to yourself on social media it will only tighten your feeling of being a fraud. Therefore, avoid its excessive use and express yourself as you are.
Accept Your Feelings
If you’re experiencing the feeling of not belonging, own it and accept it. Once you begin doing that, only then will you be able to discover the beliefs that are holding you back.
Don’t Hold Yourself Back
Once you acknowledge your feelings, own them and try to understand the reason behind them. Don’t let your feeling impede you from pursuing your goals. Understand that these feelings are temporary and let nothing get in the way.
If you come across someone who is in a similar situation as you, reach out to them and help them. Include them in the conversation and try to make them feel better. This will help you develop confidence in your abilities.
Human beings operate within a certain capacity and feel exhausted and fatigued if they push beyond that. Therefore, avoid the urge of doing everything yourself. Instead, ask your peers and coworkers for help. There is absolutely no shame in doing that. In fact, it will help you build a connection of mutual support. A robust network of support will offer you guidance and support, help you learn and grow and acknowledge your strengthens.
But Is It Really the Imposter Syndrome?
Sometimes, we find ourselves in a situation where people around us make us feel less welcome or imply that we don’t belong there. They make us doubt our abilities to achieve success.
This is different from the imposed syndrome. Imposter syndrome is when we inflict self-doubt on ourselves. We think that we fooled people into believing in us.
There is a fine line between the two situations and one must be able to identify each correctly.
So how can organizations play their part in reducing this syndrome? Well, they can promote a culture that supports inclusivity and diversity. They should have policies in place to curb racism and any sort of discrimination in their workplace.
The Bottom Line
Hard work and a turdy belief system get you success. You don’t have to be a perfectionist. Assess yourself, your situation, and your accomplishments on an on-ging basis, and appreciate how far you have some. Practice gratitude instead of self-doubt.
Learn from others, listen to their stories but avoid indulging in baseless comparisons. If you feel that none of the above-mentioned techniques are helping you, seek help from a therapist. There is no harm in admitting that you experience such feelings. And it is never too late to fix them.