How to Deal with Imposter Syndrome (When You Feel like a Fraud)
Even when you are doing well, sometimes you don’t really feel it. You feel like you don’t deserve success; you didn’t cause it. It’s a hard feeling to deal with. But, it has a name – Imposter Syndrome.
What is imposter syndrome?
The term imposter syndrome was coined in 1978 by two psychologists, Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes. They used it to identify a feeling of “phoniness in people who believe that they are not intelligent, capable or creative despite evidence of high achievement.” The catch was that these people are actually doing quite well, despite these feelings.
Imposter syndrome is not an actual medial disorder. It instead describe a feeling that many people feel when they are successful. Instead of being happy about their accomplishments, they feel like frauds; that they don’t deserve the success they have. Imposter syndrome is very common among high achievers, especially in women and African Americans. And it’s quite common in general. Many people, including Maya Angelou, Tom Hanks, Emma Watson, and Sonia Sotomayor, report feeling like a fraud.
But it’s not just famous people who are affected by imposter syndrome. Anyone can be. You might be feeling it because you are a beginning entrepreneur. That success might feel like luck, when really it’s hard work. Or maybe you can see it in a friend. They might be doing well in school, but not recognize their own accomplishments.
How does it happen?
Instead of internalizing success, people who experience imposter syndrome externalize it. This means that they feel they don’t deserve it because they didn’t cause it. They might believe that their success was caused by luck or timing or that they’re just being looked at as better than they are. A person with imposter syndrome feels like they’re going to be found out as a fraud because they aren’t as good as they look. In reality, this self-perception isn’t true.
What problems can it cause?
Imposter syndrome might not sound like a big deal. You might be able to power through it. But, sometimes it sticks with you and can lead to other problems. A common issue is a lack of confidence. If you don’t believe in yourself and your accomplishments, it shows. This can wear down how you feel about yourself. You might not be able to even take compliments because you don’t feel like you deserve them.
It can also impact your mood on a daily basis. If you don’t believe in your success, you’re more likely to dwell on your mistakes and failures than seeing what you do well. This can just make you feel terrible because you’re overanalyzing your mistakes. Instead of learning from them and moving on, they affect your daily mood.
If imposter syndrome becomes even worse, it can lead to longer-term issues. People feel more stressed because of the need to do better. This can lead to self-doubt, anxiety, and sometimes depression.
How do I deal with imposter syndrome?
Dealing with imposter syndrome can be tricky. A common reason is that you might not even realize that you are going through it. Even if you don’t recognize it in yourself, be on the lookout. It might be affecting you, a relative, or a friend.
There are some ways to beat imposter syndrome. For example, try to celebrate small accomplishments. Treat what you do as small wins, and appreciate that you did that. But, when you make mistakes, also realize that we are only human. We make mistakes, and it’s not the end of the world. It might be hard, but give yourself a break, and just try to learn from it. Next time, it’ll be okay.
Various forms of therapy can also be helpful. A simple type, is just writing. Write out your thoughts and get it all out there. If you are willing, go even further and try to write something good about yourself and each success that you accomplish. Soon, you’ll start to internalize them. However, there are more professional forms of therapy. If you or a loved one cannot overcome imposter syndrome yourself, reach out to someone else. They might be able to help in ways that you can’t do yourself.
Imposter syndrome is very common in high achieving people. The drive to do well, but not being able to internalize your successes can lead to issues. Finding ways to deal with them that are healthy and healing is very important.