The impostor syndrome: what is it and how to cope with it?

According to scientists, approximately 70% of people suffer from this psychological complex to one degree or another. Gender, age, social status, level of education and other factors are not decisive for the impostor syndrome.

What is the impostor syndrome?

The essence of this psychological phenomenon lies in the fact that a person cannot accept his own successes and achievements. He is not able to objectively evaluate the results of his work. He is able to write off his own success for a fortunate set of circumstances or an accident. This installation is not only not conducive to the development of faith in yourself, a person begins to feel like a fraudster, who is about to be caught in deception.

Who suffers from impostor syndrome?

This condition is most characteristic of perfectionists. People who initially set themselves challenging tasks, even reaching a goal, remain dissatisfied with themselves. Due to minor mistakes, they begin to doubt their own competence and cast doubt on any achievements.

Also, the impostor syndrome is often manifested in suspicious and insecure people. Disbelief in one’s own capabilities makes one refuse to recognize one’s own merits. Surrounding people may find a person with such a complex arrogant, shy or unsociable - it all depends on how he reacts to their praise.

Causes of the impostor syndrome

It is considered that this syndrome occurs against the background of constant anxiety and fear of failure. Family attitudes also contribute to the development of this psychological state. If a baby has never been praised for success, he can grow up with the confidence that he cannot achieve anything in life. Having matured he, quite possibly, will consider all his achievements undeserved. A successful career and a strong family of your own are not sufficient evidence for such people to prove their worth. They are in constant fear that others will doubt them.

Psychologists partly explain this state of cognitive distortion, the essence of which lies in the fact that people fall into two categories. A person from the first category does not think about how low his level of knowledge is. It does not occur to him to objectively assess his qualifications, so he does not doubt, expressing his “expert” opinion, and is always sure that he is right. The person from the second group, on the contrary, is quite critical of his past experience. The recognition of the mistakes made earlier makes him underestimate his own abilities.

What is dangerous impostor syndrome?

People prone to this syndrome are not only embarrassed by the praise in their address. The impostor syndrome increases stress levels. This negatively affects all spheres of human life, but first of all the career suffers.

At a certain point, it may seem to a person that he is not capable of anything. He will stop suggesting ideas and will not dare to take risks when embarking on new projects. Considering his past successes random, he will fear that others will sooner or later come to the same opinion. If the impostor syndrome is not recognized in time, it will lead to a decrease in self-esteem and a depressive state.

How to deal with the impostor syndrome?

If you are visited from time to time self-deprecating thoughts, you should not go on about them. Try to follow the course of their reasoning. The key question to ask yourself is: "How useful are such thoughts to me?" Do doubts in one’s own competence ultimately lead to finding optimal solutions for the tasks set or do they only prevent you from acting?

The impostor syndrome often develops because a person cannot constructively accept criticism. The fact that he makes comments, he perceives as a failure. Because of this, he cannot take his success in the future without looking back - what if someone notices a flaw in his work? People who do not suffer an impostor syndrome calmly respond to criticism. They will not shift the assessment of their own work to themselves (not doing a job well enough does not make you a bad person!).

Knowing that you are prone to the impostor syndrome, try to consciously focus on their successes. For clarity, make daily lists in which you will list all the well-executed cases. Even if they are not of great importance, you need to be able to see your progress. Overcome embarrassment and start talking about your achievements to others.

Stop striving for the perfect result and look for errors in yourself. The rating of "good enough" is quite acceptable for most of the tasks you face. No one will take away the opportunity to cultivate from you, but it should not be dictated by the fear of “exposing” that one experiences with an impostor syndrome.

Do not try to gain self-confidence. This is not a panacea for impostor syndrome. It is much more important to learn to forgive yourself for mistakes and failures. Think of them as a rewarding experience. Identify the skills that allowed you to succeed. Be objective in relation to yourself and do not write off all achievements for luck. Perhaps you really were "at the right time in the right place", but without the necessary skills and knowledge you would hardly be able to enter into a business contract, make a profitable acquisition or make a sensible offer at a meeting.

It is possible to get rid of increasing pressure due to imposter syndrome. . . just talking about him. Of course, we are not talking about the public exposure of the impostor. At the beginning of the article it was mentioned that this condition is familiar to 70% of people. If you find the symptoms of this syndrome in yourself, then you are in the majority, and among your surroundings there will certainly be someone who can understand you.

Confidential conversation can be the first step towards getting rid of the rejection of their own success. In fact, this will allow you to stop pretending. You told about your condition - you took off the mask and you are no longer an impostor. If it turns out that your interlocutor is currently experiencing difficulties in recognizing his own success, this will automatically reduce your anxiety. By exchanging opinions about the reasons that led both of you to this state, you will be able to overcome the impostor syndrome.
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About the author

Клементина

I love chocolate and books in unlimited quantities. I appreciate communication, a positive attitude and self-development. I try to motivate myself for big and small achievements. Did you have any questions? Feel free to ask))

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