Imposter syndrome is the internal experience of believing that you are not as competent or skilled as others consider you to be.
Simply put, it’s the experience of feeling as though at any moment you’re going to be found out as a fraud – like you don’t belong where you are, and you got there through luck.
Common signs of imposter syndrome include:
- An inability to realistically assess your competence and skills
- Attributing your success to external factors
- Berating your performance
- Fear that you won’t live up to expectations
- Sabotaging your success
- Setting very challenging goals and feeling disappointed when you fall short
It’s estimated that roughly 70% of people will experience imposter syndrome at least once.
Research hasn’t shown a decisive cause for imposter syndrome, only factors such as personality traits and childhood experiences.
Imposter syndrome and social anxiety often overlap.
A person with a social anxiety disorder may feel like they don’t belong in social or performance situations.
Symptoms of social anxiety can fuel feelings of imposter syndrome; however, this doesn’t mean that everyone with imposter syndrome has social anxiety or vice versa.
People without social anxiety can also feel a lack of confidence and competence. Imposter syndrome often causes non-anxious people to experience a sense of anxiety when they are in situations where they don’t feel good enough.
Imposter syndrome can appear in several different ways.
A few different types that have been identified are:
Perfectionists are never satisfied; they always feel as if their work could be better. Rather than focusing on their strengths, they tend to fixate on flaws or mistakes, no matter how insignificant. This often leads to self-pressure and high amounts of anxiety.
Because these individuals feel inadequate, they feel compelled to push themselves to work as hard as possible. They often take on too many tasks, pushing themselves to work harder and measure up.
These individuals are always trying to learn more and are never satisfied with their level of understanding. They often underrate their expertise.
These people tend to be very individualistic. Their self-worth often stems from their productivity, so they often reject offers of assistance. They see asking for help as a sign of weakness or incompetence.
Here are some tips to overcome imposter syndrome:
- Recognize that feelings aren’t facts.
Recognize feelings of inadequacy for what they are – they’re normal, but not always true. It takes time and energy to dedicate ourselves to shirt this mindset, but it is a necessary first step to overcoming imposter syndrome
- Talk about what’s going on.
Reach out to a trusted loved one and share how you are feeling! Don’t be afraid to seek help or advice!
- Break negative thought patterns.
Make sure to speak kindly to yourself while focusing on your own goals and beliefs. Try creating a mantra you can repeat to yourself and keep failure in perspective! Also, consider keeping a list of accomplishments and refer to it in times of doubt.
- Remember: you’re not alone!
While it might feel like you’re the only one experiencing imposter syndrome in any given situation, it’s never the case! Most people experience it; you aren’t alone!