Imposter or not Imposter, that is the question
What is Imposter Syndrome?
Imposter Syndrome (IS) refers to an internal experience of believing that you are not as competent as others perceive you to be and is often denying your talents and abilities. People who suffer with IS often point a magnifying glass upon their mistakes or errors while minimising their accomplishments and successes, acquainting them to luck or chance. This ultimately creates a crisis of confidence within the individual as they view themselves as a phoney or a fraudster.
What triggers Imposter Syndrome?
Imposter syndrome can be triggered by multiple factors, including personality traits (such as perfectionism), environment and family background. One theory is that imposter syndrome is rooted in families that value achievement above all else. In particular, parents who send mixed messages to their children alternate between over-praise and criticism, increasing the risk of future fraudulent feelings. Societal pressures only add to the problem. A common trigger can be caused if there is some new transitional experience such as a new career or new promotion.
What are the signs of Imposter Syndrome?
Here are some of the common signs that people with IS experience:
- Self-Doubt: Having uncertainty and a lack of confidence in your skills and abilities.
- Fear of Failure: Having a solid belief that you won't live up to others' expectations.
- Overachieving: Driven by the intruding thoughts of not being good enough, you over-prepare and work extremely hard to ensure nobody recognises that you are a fraud.
- Lack of Clarity: The inability to assess your skills, competence, and abilities realistically even when you achieve an essential millstone.
- Sabotaging your Success: By undervaluing your skills abilities, you trip yourself up and get in your way. This includes not going for promotions or moving on to new pastures because you feel that you don't deserve it.
- Berating your Performance: You always seem to find faults and errors in your work and performance. There are often many self-criticisms that help to fuel the cycle and belief of being an imposter.
Tips for Overcoming Imposter Syndrome
Here are six tips that you can use to help you win your battle with Imposter Syndrome:
- Time to Talk: The best way to overcome Imposter Syndrome is to talk about it. Hearing that others also struggle with it can help normalise it and enable you to see that it is a lot more common than you thought. It is estimated that at least 70% of people will experience Imposter Syndrome at least once in their lifetime. Break the silence and know that its power remains strong for as long as you allow this secret to keep you sick!
- Challenging Negative Thinking: Our thoughts have the power to lift us or sink us, strengthen us or weaken us, bring us hope or despair. This is why it is essential to challenge those harmful, destructive and intruding thoughts whenever they come. The mind is the battlefield. You must become the security guard of your mind, ensuring that the trouble-makers (negative thoughts) stay outside and the peaceful customers (positive thoughts) can enter and return as they please. The key is to switch the negative thoughts with positive ones as soon as possible.
- Let go of Perfectionism: Perfectionism, in psychology, is a person's concern with striving for flawlessness and excellence. It is often accompanied by critical self-evaluations and concerns regarding others' evaluations. IS drives individuals to always strive for perfectionism. It is important to note that you are not an imposter if something you try fails! The truth is everyone fails, including the individuals that you look up to and put on a pedal stool.
- Separating Feeling from Facts: We all experience a wide range of feelings and emotions based on our experiences and environment, but that doesn't mean that we are those feelings. It is crucial to examine the evidence or facts before deciding to run with those feelings in the heat of the moment.
- Change your Viewpoint of Failure: When people think of the word fail, it often evokes a range of negative thoughts and feelings. The truth of the matter is everybody fails because it a healthy part of the process in the journey of life. Rather than being fearful of it, start to see it as your First Attempt In Learning when trying something new. Always remember every champion was once a contender that refused to give up!
- Write a New Script: The Imposter Syndrome had been the governing body of your life up to this point. Now that you know what it is, its signs and triggers, and ways to manage it, it is time to write the rules. Start to recognise that you have just as much right as anyone else to make a mistake, not be perfect, receive praise, have a lunch break, take time off, or ask for help and assistance when you need it.