IMPOSTOR SYNDROME AND ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW

6 min


So, the title may be new to us. But, most of us would have experienced this in our lives. This is more common than it may sound. Once you move further into the article you can understand the phenomenon. Before getting into knowing about impostor syndrome, let’s ask ourselves certain questions. Try to answer and keep a mental track of your answers. Okay, let’s begin.

  • Firstly, when was the last time you felt completely confident in yourself?
  • Felt like shying away from the challenges thrown your way, at work or college due to nagging doubts in your ability?
  • Having a hard time relishing your victory and feel like an inept or a fraud?
  • Have difficulties and feel crushed even after hearing constructive criticisms?
  • Oftentimes, tend to label your genuine accomplishmets as fraudulent, ‘anyone could score one’, a fluke’ or ‘out of sheer luck’?
  • Feel threatened or not worthy of praises?
  • Hate yourself or feeling bad for making a small mistake or not being fully prepared for something? In other words, being too hard on yourself?
  • Kind of living in the constant fear of being exposed or unmasked?
  • Find yourself comparing yourself to people around you and beleiving that others are more smarter and capable than you?

WHEN THE ANSWER IS ‘YES’:

If your answer is ‘yes’ to one or more of the above questions, chances are there that you’re highly likely to suffer from impostor syndrome.

In this article, let’s read and get to know about impostor syndrome, the importance of knowing about this syndrome. Further, let’s share with you some of the methods to cope up.

The term ‘impostor syndrome’ was coined after studying highly successful women. These women were found to consider themselves as frauds rather than having a sense of achievement for their accomplishments. Suzzane Imes, a psychologist and Pauline Rose Clance in the 1970s described this phenomenon.

Also, this syndrome or phenomenon is not an official diagnosis and statistical manual of mental disorders.

WHAT IS IMPOSTOR SYNDROME:

It is a psychological pattern, where a person has doubts about his or her accomplishments. They also have continuous internal anxiety of being uncovered as ‘fraud’. Impostor syndrome is also called as impostor phenomenon.

SIGNS THAT INDICATE YOU MIGHT BE A VICTIM OF IMPOSTOR SYNDROME:

There are some signs that might help you to identify with the impostor syndrome, they include,

  • Highly comparing yourself with others
  • Stress
  • Frequent burnouts
  • Reduced self-esteem or self-worth
  • Inability to enjoy your accomplishments
  • Constant anxiety and fear
  • Self- doubt and sometimes under-performance
  • Having a hard time accepting praises and accolades

Some of the major sources or circumstances that make you suffer from impostor include,

  • Being a new recruit or intake at an office or college
  • The cultural or politics of your work environment , college or school can fuel a feeling of impostorism.
  • Sometimes, when your smart
  • When you are a minority or under represented person at your proffesional or educational environment.

THE PROBLEM WITH IMPOSTORISM:

Although impostor syndrome is not officially a diagnosis under the DSM, this is oftentimes accompanied by stress and depression. Also, the feeling of fraudulence can make us feel anxious or potentially worse. Further, at first, the syndrome was only observed in women. But later, anyone under a lot of pressure to perform or achieve which is equal for both men and women.

Moreover, studies have shown that people who were raised in a home where there was a lot of emphasis on success and achievement were likely to suffer more from this syndrome.

Also, kids who grow under parents who send mixed messages. For instance, parents who praise their kids one minute and criticise them the other minute also cause impostor syndrome. Therefore, parenting also plays an important role in raising a kid with a healthy mental status.

COMBATING IMPOSTOR SYNDROME:

So as with any other condition, learning to manage a problem and knowing to combat them is really important. So, to handle impostor syndrome we can follow these simple steps.

BE KIND TO YOURSELF:

Be kind and empathetic to yourself. Also, self-talk or talking to yourself is very important. Remind yourself that you are more strong than you think. For instance, if you are hired for a particular job and are actually qualified for it. You might have attended the best of the universities, been a straight ‘A’ student your whole life and worked really hard for this dream job of yours. But, at that initial stage, you may have the feeling that you actually did not deserve the job and just had it since it was a lucky day.

Always remember you were hired because you deserved the job. Further, know that you are self-worthy. The feeling of not falling into that place and having a lot of doubts are part and parcel of the beginning days of any new venture.

Tell yourself or rather re-assure that these feelings are temporary and will wear off as days roll on.

SPEAK OUT AND NORMALIZE YOUR FEELINGS:

Further, acknowledging you feeling a giving time to normalize with them does the magic. Always remember to speak out your feelings to a trustworthy person like your mentors, seniors, a therapist, your boss etc. A person who has already experienced these feelings and has travelled through that path could be of great help. They can support you and make you feel comfortable tremendously. Never forget to try this point!

VIEW THINGS FROM A DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVE:

The first step towards healing, not only from impostor but from any physical or mental disturbance is accepting the fact that we have a problem and need help. Similarly, when it comes to impostorism, a change in your thought and behavioural patterns and letting yourself sync in with the feelings helps you embrace your unique pattern of impostorism in a poignant manner.

Subsequently, you can always replace all these feelings of fraudulence into a phase of learning and growth. This will immensely improve the sense of peace.

CONTINUE THE SUPPORT CHAIN:

As we already saw, talking to someone or opening up about your feelings is greatly helpful. Likewise, support others who experience impostorism and explain that everyone is an impostor in one or another way.

You can help them, by reminding them of their accomplishments and stating out that they are worthy of their achievements.

So, to sum up, small changes can make a huge difference. According to Tina Fey, ‘Everyone else is an impostor too’. Even the greatest people in the history of the world have experienced this syndrome. For instance, the great scientist Albert Einstein also suffered from this syndrome. Therefore, know that you are not alone and always remember that, the feeling of needing help with something is nothing to be ashamed of and is a normal human emotion. Also, overcoming this syndrome starts from acceptance and the non-hesitance to ask for help.


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Dr Kavitha M

I am an undergraduate degree holder in dentistry. I have a great interest in music and reading. I am a linguaphile. My areas of interest lie in psychology, medical imaging, diagnostics, and oncology. I am a person who focuses more on the emerging areas of forensics.

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