How do you feel or react when your work is recognized? Do you mostly say ‘ I was lucky’ or ‘ I got it by fluke?’. This may be a phenomenon called Impostor Syndrome. It is a psychological phenomenon where people are unable to internalize their accomplishments.
How do you feel or react when your work is recognized? Do you mostly say ‘ I was lucky’ or ‘ I got it by fluke?’. Remember how you used to react or think when you got good grades in your class? Same? Do you often feel you do not deserve your success? Do you feel anxious that people will soon find you are faking your skills? Buckle up because we might just have some answers for you.
These feelings are not only quite normal but also very common. This is recognized as a phenomenon called Impostor Syndrome. It is a psychological phenomenon where people are unable to internalize their accomplishments. Elaborately, it is a collective feeling of failure, inadequacy, and low confidence that stems from low self-esteem even after persistent successes.
*Here are 6 common traits of Imposters: *
They have a problem accepting mistakes and criticism as performance feedback, instead of personalizing them.
They base their success on luck or timing, not their own experience, skills, or other qualities.
Maintaining this false impression, according to them, becomes a significant goal.
They usually feel guilty about their success
They not only underestimate themselves but overestimate others
They dread evaluation and failure.
Though there is no concrete answer as to why some people have this syndrome, researchers speculate that personality traits or family and behavioral conditioning might influence the likelihood of having this syndrome. While personality traits such as neuroticism have been associated with the imposter syndrome, *your achievements never being good enough for your parents or primary caregivers during the development period also takes a toll on the same. **Factors outside the person can also affect it, such as institutionalized discrimination. Though some research points out that women are more likely to face it, others still say that there isn’t any significant difference. One of the reasons why imposter syndrome becomes a must topic in any leadership workshop for women. *
Imposter syndrome is not a recognized disorder by DSM or ICD; hence there isn’t anything worrisome about it. However, it has been positively correlated to low confidence, general anxiety, and sometimes even depression. In this sense, keeping it in check would be beneficial for not only your performance in any domain but also your mental health.
*Some tips to keep imposter syndrome at-bay are: *
1. Fact checks your feelings: Awareness is the first step. Recognizing the imposter feelings when they emerge. Feelings could be as broad as our imagination. Try fact-checking any negative feelings about yourself and your abilities. Does your record of achievement or attainment validate your feelings?
2. Don’t ruminate or dwell: Dwelling or ruminating on the same cycle of negative thought isn’t productive. Once, a negative thought or feeling enters your mind, engage in actions that counter them.
3. Perfectionism isn’t always a good goal: Setting goals so high every time may be setting ourselves for disappointment from the beginning. Nurture the ability to analyze your abilities as well as the environmental factors about the goal.
4. Stop comparing: Like negative thoughts, the unnecessary comparison isn’t fruitful. Focusing on one’s path and goal is optimal.
5 Change your locus of control: Easy said than done, but not unachievable. Stop crediting your success to external factors like luck, timings, etc. You are as responsible for your successes as you are for your failure.
6. Self-compassion goes a long way: A very general step yet very powerful is to be self-compassionate. It is okay to have doubts about oneself and keep reminding yourself that. However, also extend it to any situation where your doubts are proved right. A positive repertoire opens the ability to think broadly.
7. Consider talking to a mental health expert or mentor: Even though these tips might aid the issue at hand, our mind is capable of rationalizing any thoughts or feelings we have no matter how bizarre it may seem. A good guide, whether a mentor accustomed to your work or mental health professional who can help rewire your thought process, is very useful in situations like this.
All of us at one time or other do feel like an Imposter. But if it is a continuous trend, let’s start with being aware of it. Next time you find yourself entangled in these feelings of being an imposter or fraud, remember you are much more than your thoughts and feelings and you are not the only one feeling that way.