Suffering from impostor syndrome? Here are 3 ways to rise above it



Have you ever questioned your identity or your suitability for success? Anyone might find it hard to feel “like a phoney,” even if they are brilliant at what they do. Understanding the causes of the imposter phenomenon can help you take appropriate action.

Impostor syndrome: What is it?

Dr Pauline Clance, PhD, initially used the term “impostor phenomenon” to describe impostor syndrome, sometimes known as the “impostor complex.”

Impostor syndrome is a type of self-doubt and a mistaken idea that you’re not as confident and capable as others think you are, according to 2018 research titled “Intellectual Self-doubt and How to Get Out of It”.

According to Emma Giordano, a mental health counsellor at Empower Your Mind Therapy, “those with imposter syndrome have trouble internalising their achievement and ascribe it to external causes, such as chance.”

Everyone occasionally struggles with low self-esteem in their skills. However, imposter syndrome sufferers frequently have a strong academic record, a range of educational experiences, and some work experience. Even yet, they can frequently feel inadequate and self-conscious.

Is imposter syndrome genuine, may some individuals wonder?

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition, does not explicitly classify impostor syndrome as a mental health disorder (DSM-5). Even still, a lot of individuals can relate to it, especially those who deal with anxiety and despair.

Symptoms and signs

According to Giordano, those who suffer from imposter syndrome frequently undervalue their efforts, abilities, and successes.

Here are a few typical imposter syndrome symptoms: dependency on outside approval, anxiety about falling short of standards you set for yourself and others, overworking and pushing yourself to the limit, and self-sabotage before trying something new.

Depending on an individual’s experience, circumstances, background, and personality attributes, imposter syndrome symptoms might change. Impostor syndrome sufferers frequently exhibit the following symptoms: despair, intense discomfort, guilt and humiliation, and maladaptive behaviours.

Impostor syndrome types

Depending on your personality features and environment, impostor syndrome can present itself in a few different ways. There are five recognised varieties of imposter syndrome.

  • The perfectionist

It’s common for perfectionists to focus more on their shortcomings than their accomplishments. They might not often feel content with either themselves or their employment.

For instance, while earning praise and kudos for their presentation, a graduate student who presents a strong, captivating thesis often dwells on the one thing they wish they’d said or done better.

  • The natural genius

Some people with high IQs or certain abilities may think that their value as a person depends on their ability to effortlessly master such skills.

As a result, they can have a tendency to get frustrated when they can’t figure anything out on their own. Naturally musically inclined individuals who try to learn how to play the guitar on their own may grow frustrated when they are unable to do it without an instructor.

Impostor syndrome may cause them to experience this emotion in various areas of their lives.

  • The soloist

The soloist could find it difficult to ask for assistance, especially in times of need.

In order to reach their monthly publication goals, editors may take on additional responsibilities and juggle various deadlines. This may be a result of their concern that others would assume they are unable to do their own duties.

  • The expert

This individual may still believe that they aren’t nearly good enough despite their experience or accomplishments.

For instance, a woman managing a team of less experienced employees with more than ten years of experience in the advertising sector could believe she would never measure up to her male co-workers who manage the firm.

  • The super-person

People who experience this kind of imposter syndrome frequently go beyond what they can handle. They can feel that others don’t think they can succeed. It could also be brought on by a perception that certain people have different standards for you than they do for others.

For instance, some black women believe they must uphold the stereotype of the “strong black woman.” This is a reference to some individuals who think black women are “stronger” by nature.

Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour (BIPOC) also frequently experience pressure to demonstrate their value to society.

According to Bianca Amaya, a certified clinical social worker, “BIPOC persons frequently have to design their own route to their successes and professional settings, which may be tough and produce emotions of self-doubt or pressure to prove oneself.”

Why does imposter syndrome occur?

Impostor syndrome may be related to diseases like social anxiety disorder (SAD) or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, according to a systematic study titled “Prevalence, Predictors, and Treatment of Impostor Syndrome: a Systematic Review” (ADHD).

Professional or workplace circumstances that are unsupportive, unhealthy, unduly critical, exploitative, or that lower morale may contribute to symptoms of imposter syndrome.

Self-doubt can be encouraged by work circumstances where people believe they aren’t operating at their best.

Additionally, according to a 2019 study, women are more prone than males to have imposter syndrome. People from marginalised groups may have more trouble standing up for themselves at work because they are also disproportionately affected.

In comparison to their white counterparts, BIPOC people may find it more difficult to ask for a raise or promotion because they are more likely to be afraid of losing their jobs, feeling rejected, or not believing in their own accomplishments, according to Amaya.

The best way to overcome imposter syndrome

It’s vital to keep in mind the distinctive characteristics that make you who you are in order to get over thoughts of inadequacy. Though it might not always come naturally. You can start by determining your natural talents and acquired abilities and investigating the defining characteristics of your personality.

Knowing who you are and what drives you may help you accept your uniqueness and your talents while also boosting your confidence and self-esteem. Self-awareness development is also essential. Giordano suggests a five-step procedure to assist you in getting over imposter syndrome.

1. Attempt to be aware of your ideas

When you practise mindfulness, you pay attention to your ideas as they come to you and reflect on how they are influencing you. Any negative ideas may be challenged and re-examined by seeing or witnessing them.

2. Take a look at the evidence

Always keep in mind how hard you’ve worked to be where you are. Check any thought filters or cognitive distortions that could be leading you to believe differently. If there is any indication that you don’t belong, take it into consideration.

You’ll probably find that there is a lot more evidence to back up your beliefs. Consider compiling a list of the achievements that got you to where you are now (and keep it handy in case you need a reminder).

3. Try to communicate your emotions to others.

Giordano advises talking to trustworthy family members, friends, co-workers, or mentors if you don’t want to broadcast your sentiments of unworthiness to the entire world. These emotions have probably crossed their minds at some point.

A little friendship goes a long way. Knowing you’re not the only one with doubts, according to Giordano, is comforting. You don’t have to let impostor syndrome prevent you from accepting who you are and recognising your successes. By telling yourself once more that you are deserving and that you belong, try to silence the voice of your inner critic.

You’ll probably find that there is a lot more evidence to back up your beliefs. Try compiling a list of your achievements that resulted in

While developing self-acceptance requires effort, it is essential to building a solid sense of self-concept and self-esteem. Keep in mind that talking things out with a trusted friend or mental health professional can serve as a helpful reminder that you are not the only one experiencing this.

Think about surrounding yourself with individuals that appreciate and adore you and can serve as a constant reminder of all the special talents you possess.

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