At some point in our lives, we face what social psychologists have labeled “Imposter Syndrome”. You feel inadequate at your job, insecure in relationships, and have self-doubt over your ability to achieve. If you recognize any of these feelings, it is time to understand and overcome imposter syndrome and its paralyzing effects.
What is imposter syndrome?
It can be defined as a mental pattern of thinking you don’t belong and feeling incompetent in your position. We live in a society that pressures us to be overachievers and excel at all we do. The fact of the matter is, we are all human and if we continue holding ourselves to a high (sometimes impossible) standard, we are left with a chronic thought that we are never good enough and assume those around us are more worthy. Despite evidence of our successes, we believe we do not measure up to our peers.
Where does Imposter Syndrome come from?
Behind the brave masks that we wear lies our deepest insecurities.
Low self-esteem can cause us to question ourselves and not speak our truths. Paradoxically, we feel we need to acquire a “group think” mentality to be respected by others. It can be hard to build up confidence, especially when we don’t give ourselves permission to be truly seen and heard. It is important to remember you do not need to explain yourself, rather, defend your right to have your own voice.
Inexperience understandably contributes to feelings of inadequacy. If we do not know better, we can’t do better. Giving ourselves grace during the “learning curve” is important, especially if we feel others are evaluating or even judging us. There will be those that trigger us and call us out on our insecurities. We need to remember that, in these circumstances, the underlying issue is a measure of their character and not our value.
Perfectionism has a connection to this syndrome. Many high achievers, including doctors, therapists, and lawyers, have internalized the message that we need to avoid failure at all costs and have a distorted view of what it means to fail. We need to remember that there is a function in “failing” and we can view it as a “First Attempt In Learning.” Brene Brown wrote the book, “The Gifts of Imperfection” which celebrates our flaws and guides us to find the courage to overcome paralyzing fear, helping us to truly believe we are worthy.
Can we overcome Imposter Syndrome?
We can and we NEED to overcome it. It is no joke people, Imposter syndrome is real, AND can be damaging to our mental health. If not addressed, we can feel anxiety around our performance or feel depressed by believing we are defective and flawed. We must confront these defeating thoughts that trick us into believing we are not enough. Make a list of what cognitive distortions you struggle with (discounting the positive, catastrophic worries, black or white thinking) and “fact check” those thoughts. Can you view your experience through a different lens? Find a trusted source to share their perception of your experience and be open to working through constructive feedback. Reframe what it is that you tell yourself that keeps you shackled to your fears. It is time to tear down the faulty feelings of fraud, befriend your mistakes and allow yourself to be fully human in this ever-changing and challenging world in which YOU belong.