Do you feel like a fraud at your workplace, believe that everyone else is more capable than you or find it difficult to accept your accomplishments?
Suppose you find yourself attributing your successes to lucky coincidences and not to your actual skills and abilities, but believe that every failure that ever occurs is solely your fault. In that case, you may be suffering from impostor syndrome.
Impostor syndrome is a common term used to describe the psychological experience of feeling like you don’t deserve your success. It’s not a diagnosable mental health condition, but the feeling of being a fake can link into anxiety and depression and aggravate those conditions.
Imposter syndrome tends to be more common in higher achievers as they have a stronger tendency not to accept their achievements as being what they are worth. Young adults are more likely to suffer from impostor syndrome, but most people will have experienced the feeling of impostor syndrome at one point or another in their lives.
Common Signs of Impostor Syndrome
- Perfectionism – flaws outweigh the success in your mind.
- Overworking – can be connected to perfectionism; can be a way of avoiding finishing a project or product that will be
- Undermining your achievements – pointing out your mistakes before taking credit for the successes, procrastinating and leaving things to the last minute and having to rush as a result.
- Fear of failure – procrastinating the start of projects, avoiding challenges and reluctance to ask for feedback.
- Discounting praise – pointing out other people’s contributions before your own, assuming that the praise given is faked or exaggerated
Non-contingent feedback (feedback without an explanation) feeds into impostor syndrome and can be just as damaging as negative feedback.
Non-contingent feedback (feedback that is given without explanation or critique) can be just as damaging as negative feedback, as it feeds into the impostor syndrome by adding to the belief that you’ve “faked it until you’ve made it”.
There is no one way to experience impostor syndrome, so there is no one impostor syndrome cure-all. In saying that, there are ways that you can mitigate the impact of impostor syndrome on yourself and employ strategies to do so.
Learn to think like a non-imposter
A non-impostor knows that they cannot be brilliant at everything and are less likely to get caught up with trying to be perfect. Reframe the internal conversation that your impostor syndrome is trying to have with you into a way that a non-impostor may instead use.
For example, if you’ve successfully pulled off a presentation that you put together at short notice, instead of thinking about the quality of the presented work, think about how you delivered a presentation that was received well and pulled together the information others have found useful.
Grow Your Confidence In Yourself
You don’t have to feel confident to act confident. Though impostor syndrome is not necessarily a confidence issue, a lack of confidence can feed into the damaging self-talk that fuels the impostor mindset. Promote positive self-talk when possible, and try to limit self-derision or deprecation when talking to others.