What is Imposter Syndrome?

What is Imposter Syndrome? - PleaseNotes

Have you ever muddled out the words, “What am I doing? I’m a total fraud. I don’t deserve to be here.” Well, this is a sign you might be dealing with something called Imposter Syndrome? This syndrome causes individuals to doubt their abilities and achievements, making them fear that they may be inadequate or a “fraud,” as they say.

Imposter syndrome was first described in 1978 and is said to affect around 70% of people. In simple terms, it is a sudden feeling that you don’t belong where you currently are and that you only made it there through luck. This syndrome can affect everyone, regardless of your work, skills and social status. However, high-achieving individuals will most likely experience it the most.


What Causes Imposter Syndrome?

Imposter syndrome is correlated with our personality traits, as everyone experiences it differently. Some people may suffer from symptoms due to anxiety, or they can also experience symptoms due to family or behavioural causes. For example, growing up, you may have felt obligated to obtain high grades to meet your parents’ standards but never felt like your grades were good enough. Repeated events like this can have a lasting impact on our thought process, which causes us to strive to become better. Creating the effect of “that wasn’t good enough; I need to achieve more.”

People who suffer from social anxiety can have enhanced imposter syndrome characteristics because they always feel like they don’t belong in social settings. An example of the two overlappings may be when you’re presenting a new business idea to your colleagues, and you feel like you didn’t belong there and that your presentation wasn’t good enough. This can make you feel a lack of confidence in any situation moving forward. Imposter syndrome can even cause laid-back individuals to experience anxiety when they are put into situations where they feel insufficient to the task.

We all may have felt slight imposter syndrome anxiety when moving away from school or starting a new job because it’s an environmental shift that makes you question your capability and competence. When entering a new scenario, imposter syndrome causes these feelings because nobody wants to make a mistake and embarrass themselves in front of people they just meet.


Related: Three Simple Tips to Cope with Anxiety and Stress during COVID-19


Symptoms of Imposter Syndrome

The symptoms of imposter syndrome can include:

  • Feelings of self-doubt
  • Fear of being discovered as a not qualified
  • Inability to assess your own skills
  • Difficulty internalizing success
  • Attributing success to other factors

Although everyone experiences these symptoms in different forms, the most consistent symptom is self-doubt. Having a constant sense of self-doubt makes it challenging to celebrate our wins because we are so caught up on what we did wrong. Over time this can impact our self-image and translate to different aspects of our life, including work, social and environmental settings. By understanding how this self-doubt may affect our lives, we can then look into treating these feelings.


Treatment for Imposter Syndrome

To combat the feelings associated with imposter syndrome, you must become comfortable being uncomfortable. This means you must be able to dive deep into your own identity and beliefs to combat the negative thought processes of such phenomena. In the beginning, it is going to be hard to realize the things you need to work on fixing but below is a list of techniques proven to help you get past imposter syndrome.

1) One step at a time: To combat the symptoms associated with imposter syndrome, you must research and highlight the symptoms you feel apply to your life. Understanding these symptoms can help you move forward to question your thoughts in critical moments.

2) Question Your Thoughts: You must constantly question your thoughts and ask yourself why you feel fraud or inadequate in that scenario? Give yourself a few minutes to understand the situation and assess your preparation and abilities to perform in that situation. By questioning these thoughts, it can help you recall past successes to become in a more positive mind state, enabling you to create better-thinking patterns over time. To develop long-lasting positive thinking patterns, check out the Manifestation Planner.  This planner has exercises to help you get into the pattern of recognizing your accomplishments, creating evidence to combat negative thoughts during the times you feel not enough or lesser than. 

3) Assess your Abilities: You must assess the knowledge you already know and understand that perfection is impossible. Nobody is perfect and makes them a part of everyday life. So, understanding that you are performing to the best you can and to the best of your abilities, you will be just fine. You can even write down skills you have learned and accomplishments you have gained to help give yourself a self-assessment and realize you’ll be okay in the end. To help, try out clarity journaling as an opportunity to help you identify negative thinking patterns and perform positive self-talk instead.

4) Stop Comparing Yourself to Others: You need to stop looking at other people on social media and in different social settings. Social media portrays a false reality that causes us to feel like we will never be as good as that other person. Put away your phone and focus on yourself and how you can become the best version of yourself each day.

5) Talk About It: Don’t fight the feelings of imposter syndrome. Instead, lean into them and understand that it’s okay to fail and learn from that experience. You must become intertwined with these feelings to unravel the reason behind those negative thought processes so that you can turn them into positive thought processes. By talking about these feelings, you are less likely to let the feelings of inadequacy hold you back from achieving your goals.

In the end, if you experience feelings of imposter syndrome, you must understand that you are not alone and that you, like all people, have some degree of success in life that you should be proud of. Look at the things you have accomplished over the years and remind yourself to be grateful. This will help you recognize that you are destined for great things and help you achieve your goals and dreams in no time!!


Did you find this interesting? What has been your experience with Impostor Syndrome.

Related: 3 Reasons Gratitude Journaling Does Wonders for your Mental and Financial Health

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