Imposter Syndrome

Imposter Syndrome

Self-doubt. Feeling like a fraud. Or unworthy of deserving that accomplishment, award, promotion or job. These feelings were given the name “Impostor Syndrome” (IS) by psychologists Pauline Rose Clance and Rose Imes.  The two officially described IS as the “internal experience of intellectual phoniness in people who believe that they are not intelligent, capable or creative despite evidence of high achievement.”

Symptoms of impostor syndrome include self-doubt, an inability to realistically assess your competence and skills, attributing your success to external factors, berating your performance, fear that you won’t live up to expectations, sabotaging your own success, self-doubt, setting very challenging goals and feeling disappointed when you fall short. 

Dealing with impostor syndrome is usually easier said than done, especially in a world where IS is being repeatedly enforced by external factors. The unfortunate reality is that IS is extremely common, however this can be used to create a global community of solidarity. Opening up to others and surrounding yourself with people that have similar experiences can erase feelings of isolation and insecurity. 

Keeping a journal to accentuate positive experiences can help as a reminder of accomplishments, big or small. It can also be used to look back on times of self-doubt and serve as evidence that everything. will. be. okay.  

And give yourself a break. You can make mistakes. You can be wrong. You can ask for help. And, above all, it’s ok to fail. 

When combating IS, it’s important to separate feelings from fact. Feelings of self-doubt are inevitable –everyone feels this way at some point. Realize that feelings come and go –and your anxiety is lying to you. Don’t let self-doubt control you or your actions. 

To avoid the feeling of IS altogether, rethink your response to challenges. We all have that little voice in our head -that’s sometimes hard to control. However, this little voice is still your voice –not someone else narrative of you. Rewriting this internalized conversation into a more positive and self-affirming frame helps avoid feelings of self-doubt. Becoming more conscious of “why do I feel this way/like that?” reduces anxiety to reality. Stay conscious of this little voice because it has a pesky way of getting in your head (literally).   

The first step to combating IS is acknowledging these thoughts. As important as it is to fight IS, it’s important to, first and foremost, recognize its existence.  In recognizing impostor syndrome, we understand its role in diminishing our confidence and the factors in our lives that cause it. Above all, when impostor syndrome creeps up on us, we should be able to accept those feelings but learn how to let go of them and embrace each of our abilities.