Imposter Syndrome

Behavioral Investigator, Vanessa Van Edwards, stopped by to tell us why so many of us have Imposter Syndrome and how we can get over it.

Read more interesting information from Vanessa's articles in the Huffington Post or on her Science of People Facebook page.

The Imposter Syndrome: Do you feel like a fraud?
The impostor syndrome is an interesting psychological phenomenon where people feel like they don’t deserve their accomplishments. Internally they feel like a fraud, they feel like one day someone will find out that they are not good enough.

And no matter how successful they are on the outside or how much external evidence there is of their skills or competence these people are convinced that they don’t deserve the success they have achieved.

Studies have found that 70 percent of all people feel like impostors at one time or another. So it is very prevalent, but no one talks about it. And we have to talk about it. Otherwise people feel incredibly alone.

I think this issue is really important because if we don’t feel we deserve our success in contributes to depression, feelings of inadequacy, difficulty in relationships and low self-esteem. So I hope today we can talk about the Imposter Syndrome so you can recognize the signs and take steps to heal.

1. Recognize Imposter Syndrome Signs

So I am going to list off a few traits of people with Imposter Syndrome and you can see if you have felt any of these before.

  • Do you ever feel you don’t deserve your achievements?
  • Do you ever worry that people will find out you are secretly not worthy?
  • After a success, have you dismissed it as luck, or timing?
  • Do you think you have tricked others into thinking you are more successful than you actually are?
  • Do you think others over-value your success?

If you said yes to more than 2 of these you have likely experienced a form of the Imposter Syndrome.

2. This is NOT a Defect

Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes coined the term “Imposter Syndrome” after observing many high-achieving women who tended to believe they were not competent, and that they were over-evaluated by others. What’s important to note is that this is not a personality trait. Rather it is a reaction to certain situations. Because of that it can be controlled and addressed.

3. Name and Tame

The good news is that just recognizing you are feeling imposter syndrome thoughts can help you stop them. So you need to get in the habit of hearing your own self-doubts. If you hear yourself say, “oh I don’t deserve this” or “it was just luck.” Pause and note that you are having these imposter syndrome thoughts.

4. Keep Success Reminders Handy

Sometimes we forget that we are worth it. So if you know you have an imposter syndrome tendency I want you start to gather success reminders. These can be emails from colleagues of friends and family. They can be letters you have received. They can be pictures of times you were proud. It can even be calling a friend who is a great cheerleader.

5. Keep a Gratitude Journal

Nothing grounds you more than writing down what you are grateful for. Writing therapy has proven to be a great remedy for the imposter syndrome. When you are feeling those self-doubts you can pull out a journal and write about the 5 things you are grateful for. You can also write about your proudest moment. This gets those good juices flowing.
 

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