The emotions are as common as uncomfortable and hurtful.
You are normally sitting in a room full of people you know, and suddenly it hits you that you do not belong there. Or you get a raise or a promotion, and you feel entirely undeserving of the chance. Or you crack the toughest of exams but feel you lucked out by chance.
Do these situations sound familiar?
If yes, well, you are not alone. This psychological phenomenon is what science terms ‘imposter syndrome.’
While most of us grow up learning and believing that working hard and advancing in life will eventually make us more successful and confident, that is not always the case. Every acknowledgment, accomplishment, and win becomes a source of dread and fear for millions of people dealing with imposter syndrome.
Overcoming imposter syndrome is a massive challenge in itself. In this post, we will dive deeper into the condition, its symptoms, and ways to cope with it.
What Is Imposter Syndrome?
The idea of the imposter phenomenon or imposter syndrome was introduced by psychologists Suzanne A and Pauline R. Clance in 1978. It is described as a chronic feeling of self-doubt, incompetency, and intellectual inadequacy that affects people irrespective of their qualifications, age, and economic status. As per a study by KPMG, the condition is more pronounced in women and people from marginalized communities.
While generally described as a feeling affecting working professionals in the tech and business industry, imposter syndrome also affects students, medical professionals, and people from other fields.
Signs Of Imposter Syndrome
While imposter syndrome can affect people in a lot of different ways, there are a few common signs that you can look for, including:
- feeling like a fraud in your work, academic, or social life,
- having self-doubt or lack of confidence,
- not being able to give yourself credit for your success,
- assigning the credit for your success to others,
- extreme negative self-talk,
- constantly comparing yourself with others,
- having a fear of meeting people more accomplished than you, etc.
How To Deal With Imposter Syndrome?
1. Keep a tab on your wins.
When you constantly lack confidence, you easily forget the amazing things you have achieved. Therefore, creating a folder for your accomplishments is a great way to move forward. Start by creating a folder titled ‘Wins’ on your phone or computer. The basic idea is to record your professional or academic achievements. Now, whenever you feel uneasy or unqualified, go through the folder and acknowledge your success.
2. Let go of the idea of perfectionism.
The real reason imposter syndrome shows up in our lives is because we keep such a high standard of perfectionism. Therefore, one of the best ways to deal with it is to let go of these notions. The thing is that there is no such thing as being perfect, and if you keep waiting for the best time to give yourself a pat on your back, you are going to stay stuck in the rut forever. Therefore, take the plunge, acknowledge yourself, and see how life improves.
3. Talk to others about how you are feeling.
Imposter syndrome and the feeling of being a fraud are much more common than you think. Therefore, talking to others in similar situations might help you feel heard and seen. Moreover, it will help you understand that what you feel isn’t necessarily due to a lack of intellect or hard work but a mere psychological phenomenon.
Many researchers and psychologists have criticized the idea of referring to the feelings of being an imposter as a syndrome. A Harvard Business Review article by Ruchika Tulshyan and Jodi-Ann Burey described how women and women of color feel self-doubt due to systematic oppression and not necessarily due to a psychological phenomenon. Additionally, psychologists believe quantifying basic human feelings as a syndrome is problematic and might lead to stigma and misinformation.
Imposter syndrome is defined as feeling like a fraud in your academic or professional life. It makes people believe that they are undeserving of their achievements. It might lead to crippling anxiety and fear, affecting every part of their life.
Confidence is the key to defeating the imposter syndrome within you. To learn more about how to build confidence in life, click here.
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