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Impostor Syndrome: What Is It and How Can I Manage It?

Mary-Lauren O’Crowley, NCC, LPC

Look at some of your most significant achievements. Are you satisfied with your accomplishments? Alternatively, do you believe you are a phony? What emotions do you experience with each raise, promotion, or award? Perhaps it’s accompanied by an apprehension that your luck will run out and everyone will find out that you are not as talented as they believe? Many people suffer from self-doubt and feelings of inadequacy. You are not alone if you grapple with such feelings. You may be suffering from a condition referred to as impostor syndrome. This condition is more common in high-achieving individuals. 

What is impostor syndrome?

While there are many interpretations, impostor syndrome is commonly defined as a sense of inadequacy and self-doubt in any given situation. Impostor syndrome is characterized by high-achieving individuals who, despite their objective success, struggle to internalize their accomplishments. These individuals tend to suffer from persistent self-doubt and the fear of being exposed as a fraud. Impostor syndrome impairs a person’s ability to attribute their performance to their actual ability correctly. Most people who suffer from it will commonly attribute their successes to external factors such as luck. Some think their success is due to receiving help from others and attribute setbacks as evidence of their professional inadequacy).

The prevalence of impostor syndrome

This disorder affects many people, but it is most common in high-achieving students and professionals. Other people who often grapple with this condition include people with perfectionist tendencies. Rather than appreciating their accomplishments, such people would focus on areas where they could have done better.

Those with a soloist nature- prefer to work alone because they are afraid that asking for help will reveal inadequacy. The individual may refuse assistance to demonstrate their self-worth.

Superheroes- put in a lot of effort and are often referred to as workaholics to succeed. This can lead to burnout, which can harm one’s physical and mental health and interpersonal relationships.

How can you overcome impostor syndrome?

  According to the Harvard Business Review, you can take the following steps to mitigate impostor syndrome’s impact on your life:

1) Recognize the emergence of impostor feelings. Being conscious is the first step toward change, so keep track of your thoughts and when they occur.

2) Rewrite the thought processes that are preventing you from moving forward. Assure yourself that not knowing everything is acceptable and that you will continue to learn as you go, rather than assuming you are unworthy of achievement.

3) Communicate your views and emotions: Other people may feel the same way, and it’s better to express your feelings openly than to keep them bottled up inside.

4) Consider the surrounding situations. Almost everyone had experienced times or situations when they lacked complete self-confidence. Self-doubt is a natural reaction to feeling overwhelmed or out of place. Allow your feelings of helplessness to motivate you to act: “just because I feel powerless at the moment does not mean that it is real.”

5) Defeat can be reframed as a chance for instruction. Take note of the hard lessons and use them in future endeavors. We must all take something from this.

6) Demonstrate kindness for oneself. Remind yourself that you are human and are expected to make errors on occasion. Allow yourself forgiveness. When you do significant tasks successfully, don’t forget to reward yourself.

7) Seek professional help. It’s critical to understand that you are not required to do it all independently. Seek assistance if necessary. This serves as an excellent wake-up call and a stimulus for discussion.

8) Visualize yourself as a winner: If you remain focused and composed, you will be more successful in any task or presentation you are undertaking.

The prevalence of impostor syndrome in professional and student populations is approaching alarming proportions. Being aware of the warning signs and learning specific coping methods may assist you in overcoming negative emotions or the belief that your success is solely due to chance.

If you suspect that you or a loved one is suffering from impostor syndrome, consult a therapist who will screen for not only the problem but also common co-morbidities.

If you or someone you know is struggling with impostor syndrome, please reach out to the intake specialists at Symmetry Counseling today! 

References: 

https://hbr.org/2021/07/end-imposter-syndrome-in-your-workplace

https://www.apa.org/gradpsych/2013/11/fraud

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