Facing and Overcoming Imposter Syndrome
Have you ever felt as if you don’t belong or deserve to be where you are? Or feared your coworkers, mentors or boss might out you and discover that you were a fraud all along?
You may be experiencing imposter syndrome.
What Is Imposter Syndrome?
Imposter syndrome describes high-achieving individuals who, despite their objective successes, fail to recognize their accomplishments and have persistent self-doubt and fear of being exposed as a fraud or imposter. Put simply, people who struggle with this often believe their success is due to luck rather than their hard work and qualifications.
It is the feeling that you do not believe in your own abilities. It often comes up in situations where you are hired to do a job and you don’t believe you should be there. If you accomplish something, you may say, “Oh, it’s not me. I just got lucky.” Your performance may feel like a magic trick instead, and you hope that no one ever pulls back the curtain to discover who you really are.
Up to 70 percent of individuals experience symptoms of imposter syndrome at some point in their lives, and those in healthcare are even more prone to it.
There are also many symptoms of imposter syndrome, some of the most common being anxiety, doubt, perfectionism, shame and fear of failure and success. Other symptoms include negative self-talk, a constant need to re-check work, shying away from attention in the workplace, overcompensation such as staying late at work, not setting appropriate boundaries and the constant fear of being found out as a fraud.
Dealing with It
Those with imposter syndrome may feel as if they are not allowed to be proud of their success. Instead, you may constantly be trying to earn the praise you were already awarded with.
A typical response to this is often masking, where a person changes or “masks” their real personality to conform to the societal norm or conventional behaviors. Naturally, this behavior is often a short-term band-aid covering the root of the issue.
Reframe Your Thoughts
Be kind to yourself and talk to your peers. You may realize that many of them feel similar to you. When you have successes, affirm that your success came from your hard work and that you do belong. Think of it as your superpower to help you power through moments when you are unsure of yourself.
For new graduates, you may feel you have to know everything to be successful once you have your diploma in hand, but that is not the case. Just because you graduated does not mean you cannot continue learning. Self-educating post-degree is okay. It is encouraged. You will always have gaps in your knowledge, and that is the beauty of learning.
At the end of the day, imposter syndrome is based on a feeling that you do not belong. Therapy can help you reframe your thoughts to put them in perspective. Talk openly with your therapist about how you feel. Today, there are countless online therapists and therapy apps, like BetterHelp, that can help you navigate your thoughts