“The problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubts, while the stupid ones are full of confidence” – Charles Bukowski
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“I don’t think I am competent enough. I need to study more”.
– How many times do you worry about how much you do not know?
– How many times do you reflect on how much you know?
– Do you have your colleagues, classmates, family members, friends recognising your success?
– Do you downplay your achievements or discount them?
– Do you believe success does not belong to you?
– Do you feel you are a fraud?
Well, you are not alone. Many feel and believe as you do. These are indicators of imposter syndrome.
Let’s talk about imposter syndrome.
What Is Imposter Syndrome?
Let’s take a scenario – You are the only one to receive a university scholarship. You are initially very proud of your achievement, but soon, crippling self-doubt creeps in. You start believing there is someone else far more deserving than yourself. You start wondering, “Why me? Abby is better than me. I think this is pure luck.”
Imposter syndrome is this constant belief within yourself that you have not earned this achievement. It does not belong to you, but someone else deserves it more than you. You are scared of exposing your phoniness to the world.
Imposter syndrome, previously known as the imposter phenomenon, refers to
– Feelings of inadequacy or
– Chronic self-doubt or
– Feelings of intellectual fraudulence.
– Constantly worrying despite their achievements
– Failing to internalize successes.
– Failing to recognise their efforts and crediting luck for their achievements
Imposter Syndrome Beliefs
Common Signs Of Imposter Syndrome Include:
Who May Be Impacted By Imposter Syndrome?
– Truthfully I think anyone
– Most of us will experience Imposter Syndrome at some point in our lives.
– High Achievers
– Successful People
– Those who suffer from fear of failure
– Professors, teachers, people in academia
– A creative field like – writers, poets, researchers, artists
– First-generation professionals
– Studying or working in another country
– Many different professions like sports
In an interview after receiving an Academy Award, Judi Foster said, “I thought it was a fluke”. She feared she would have to give her Oscar back as it was a mistake.
Meryl Streep said, “Why would anyone want to see me again in a movie? I don’t know how to act anyway.”
Did you feel like an imposter?
Think of an experience in your life when you felt like an imposter, as described above.
How Does Imposter Syndrome Develop?
– Psychologists say that certain factors contribute to an individual developing imposter syndrome. Some of these factors including self-doubt, fear, and perfectionism.
For instance, if you get married into a high achiever family, a person may think they are not good enough and develop imposter syndrome. This syndrome may also be because they believe they cannot deliver the high expectations that this family will have from them.
– Another research claimed that you might develop imposter syndrome when a person receives inadequate support from their family or if their family has constant conflicts.
– It may also develop when there are constant comparisons to your siblings, relatives, and friends in different areas like studying, eating, playing, etc.
– Also, starting a new thing in life, such as starting college, may leave you feeling like you don’t belong there.
How To Overcome Imposter Syndrome?
Overcoming impostor syndrome is not difficult as many people think. Below are simple tips on how to overcome this condition.
1. Imposter feelings are normal
It’s important to recognise and acknowledge you are not alone. Imposter feelings are normal, and that this is a widespread feeling.
2. Build on a skill that is lacking within you – Self-Confidence
On a scale of 0 to 10, zero being no self-confidence at all and ten being the most, give yourself a number. Reflect on this number. Is it low?
If yes, look for different ways to build your confidence.
3. Start Believing in yourself
4. Reflect on a few challenging questions.
Asking yourself challenging questions will help you evaluate yourself will help you figure out things that made you develop imposter syndrome.
You may want to write down the reflections and discuss them with someone you trust. Talk it out.
5. Change the narrative.
a. What did you do to earn your accolades?
b. Write down everything that you have done to deserve these accomplishments.
6. Talk about your chronic doubts about your competencies.
Talk about your struggle with this condition with someone that you trust. This person can be your family member, therapist, friend, or mentor.
Getting other people’s opinions and perspectives will help you get into the root of the problem and possibly find a solution.
Imposter syndrome tends to thrive in your mind when you don’t talk about it. So, talk to people and let them know how you are feeling.
7. Reflect on your inner parental messages.
Write down your self-limiting internal conversations with your self. They may start with the following:
Reflect on these inner self-limiting dialogues. Can you reframe them? Will it help to change these dialogues.
What will stop you from changing your sentence from “I should…” to “I could..”
‘Should’ does not give us a choice, whereas ‘could’ is about choices.
8. Build your support system
Surround yourself with people whose viewpoints and opinions you trust.
Lean on them for support
9. List how you describe yourself versus how people describe you.
What is the truth?
10. Become aware of your surroundings.
11. Find patterns in your thinking styles.
For example –
1. I am a fraud
2. I am lucky
3. I don’t deserve this achievement
12. Recognise your response to your failures and mistakes
13. Separate feelings from facts
14. Try to see from other people’s frame of reference without discounting it.
15. Talk to your seniors, if possible, to understand if they face the same syndromes.
16. Understanding perfectionism and how it is sabotaging you
People with imposter syndrome are addicted to doing things perfectly. It is OK to want to do something to your level best but don’t push yourself too hard. Unhealthy perfectionism is harmful and will make you criticise yourself all the time, thinking you are not good enough simply because you have not achieved a particular goal. Learn to give yourself permissions to be good and maybe not perfect at all things.
Permissions to let yourself be less than perfect may prevent you from pushing yourself too hard. Celebrate every little progress, no matter how small it looks.
17. I am not good enough
As children, we are often compared at home, in school, in play areas and others. This comparison can give a feeling of I am not good enough; others are.
This belief takes root as a child. Are you able to reflect and rationalise as an adult?
Is it possible to stop being a Critical Parent to yourself and instead let your Nurturing inner Parent immerge?
Can you reframe your inner conversations to include your nurturing self?
Instead of comparing yourself with others, is it possible to focus on your strengths and work towards making them better?
18. Therapy or Counselling
You can also seek therapy to work on your constant self-doubts and recognise your insecurity and inadequacy triggers. A counsellor or therapist can guide you to identify your negative self-talk, leading to self-awareness. They can help implement strategies to successfully overcome your imposter syndrome and have confidence in your abilities.
It’s normal for most of us to struggle with our self-doubts on our competencies and achievements. However, it’s also a fact that we can work with our insecurities, our fear of failure, our fear of being a fraud or phoney. We can heal and say,
“I am Good”, “I am a high-achiever”, “I am OK.”