Picture this: you’ve just landed your dream job. You are bursting at the seams, and you can barely control your excitement. Once the excitement wears down, if your first thought is, “I can’t believe they would choose me!”, or “How could this have happened?”, you may be struggling with Imposter syndrome. Imposter Syndrome is characterized by a person that doubts if they are qualified or good enough. People who deal with imposter syndrome often live in a state of fear, believing that someone may find out that they are a fraud (Ervin, 2019).
Imposter syndrome is seen in many different types of settings including the workplace, educational institutions, within families, and on social media. In fact, the Huffington Post found that one of the most common things clients discussed in therapy in 2019 was a fear of not being who they believe they are supposed to be, and imposter syndrome (Birch, 2019). People are so used to seeing other’s perceived success on Instagram or Facebook, that it is hard to not questions your own talent and abilities. It’s important to remember that social media is not always 100% truthful, and people who look like they have it all on social media usually do not.
People with imposter syndrome experience feelings of incompetence, insufficiency, or supposed deceitfulness, and are often high achievers. Internally, these folks feel as if at any moment someone may discover that they are not who they really are. They fear that they got to this place by sheer luck or mistake, which makes them feel like a fraud. Despite a proven track record of success, the worry that others will discover their incompetence is constant. Symptoms can include depressed mood, anxious feelings, low self-confidence, constant worry, isolation, and shame (Ervin, 2019)
Imposter syndrome has the potential to harm relationships, educational opportunities, and careers. If your imposter syndrome stands in your way, it can lead to lost job opportunities, and can cause burnout to occur faster. The good news is, there are ways to combat imposter syndrome (Ervin, 2019) (Hendriksen, 2017).
- Listen to how you speak to yourself. Ask yourself if a certain thought you are having is serving you positively. You may be experiencing distorted thoughts that are impacting your behavior. Mindfulness based therapy may help people reflect on uncomfortable thoughts and feelings brought on by imposter syndrome and help you to create kinder ways to speak to yourself.
- Make note of your successes. It can be easy to forget about all your accomplishments when you only focus on the negative. Take some time to list out things you do well, and things you are proud of. Look at that list whenever you doubt yourself and your abilities.
- Seek internal validation. People who suffer from imposter syndrome are usually looking for validation from outside sources. Whether that be a great performance review, or positive praise from others, it may not happen as regularly as you would like. Work with a counselor to identify ways in which you can find validation within yourself. If you can self-validate, you have more control about how you feel and will have more confidence in your talents, rather than letting others dictate your self-worth.
- Talk with someone who knows you well. Chances are, they know how amazing you are. Tell them that you’ve been struggling, and they may be able to boost your spirit by reminding you how amazing you are.
- Be patient with yourself. Remember that with any new task, there is a learning curve. No one expects you to understand everything right off the bat. Allow yourself to make mistakes and give yourself the space to be okay with making mistakes.
If you’re looking for a Chicago therapist, we can help. Contact Symmetry Counseling to schedule your first appointment.
Birch, J. (2019, December 27). These Are The Most Common Issues People Discussed In Therapy This Year. Retrieved from https://www.huffpost.com/entry/most-common-issues-therapy-2019_l_5dfbe11be4b01834791ddaa3
Ervin, A. (n.d.). Fight Back Against Imposter Syndrome. Retrieved January 30, 2018, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/open-and-diverse/201801/fight-back-against-imposter-syndrome
Hendriksen, E. (2017, August 8). Nine Ways to Fight Impostor Syndrome. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/how-be-yourself/201708/nine-ways-fight-impostor-syndrome