There are times I sit back and think to myself “you are such a fraud”. I can’t count how many times I’ve said that to myself or how many times I’ve written that down. You see, I never even knew there was a name for this kind of feeling until few weeks ago. I really can’t remember what I was watching (perhaps listening to) when I heard someone mention “Impostor Syndrome”. It sounded interesting and so I found out what it was.
Impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon, impostorism, fraud syndrome or the impostor experience) is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud”Wikipaedia, 2019
The term Impostor Syndrome was introduced by Dr. Pauline R. Clance and Dr. Suzanne A. Imes in an article, “The Impostor Phenomenon in High Achieving Women: Dynamics and Therapeutic Intervention” in 1978. In the article, they determined that impostor syndrome was more prevalent in high achieving women. It stated that these women felt like their success was as a result of luck or people overestimating their intellect, they did not deserve the success and accomplishments they had. However, impostor syndrome has been known to be seen in both men and women.
With this syndrome, you feel like you don’t deserve the achievements people award you. You feel like people over-hype your abilities or what you do is as a result of luck; you think to yourself, I am not that good. With this, you also feel like you will soon be exposed and people will see you for the fraud you truly are. Impostor syndrome is not a form of mental disorder, rather it is a phenomenon. In fact it has been estimated that 70 percent of individuals will experience signs and symptoms of impostor phenomenon at least once in their life.
There are certain effects that the Impostor’s syndrome has on someone. They include but not limited to;
- not moving forward because you think you don’t deserve to,
- procrastinating when a task is given for fear of not doing a good job,
- overworking oneself so it can be said that they deserve success.
How to overcome Impostor’s Syndrome
- Acknowledge it
As with solving a problem, the first step is always acknowledging that you have that problem. If you are in denial of a problem, a solution will never come. So when you recognize that you have Impostor’s syndrome, realize that it doesn’t mean you are sick or something is wrong with you.
- Know that you are not alone
So you have acknowledged that you have impostor’s syndrome. It’s also important and encouraging to know that you are not the only one, neither are you part of a small percentage with it. As mentioned earlier, research estimated that there are 70 percent of people that experience this phenomenon at least once in their life. This means out of 10 people you see, 7 have felt the way you do. That’s encouraging to know because “misery loves company”.
- Accept compliments and positive feedback
When people tell you something you did that is good, accept it, say thank you. I know sometimes we want to be modest so we say things like “it’s nothing”, “It’s not a big deal”, “anyone could have done that” and so on. I do that a lot, especially when I feel like I don’t deserve the compliments given to me. It’s not a bad thing to accept the compliments or positive feedback. Even though there might be an inner voice telling us why we don’t deserve it or how we are no better than someone we know that is better than you, we have to rise above that and accept what’s good. It definitely gets better with practice.
- Don’t dwell on your failures
I have experienced being so hard on myself because I did not do something right. It made me feel like I cannot get anything right and frankly, I had fears of trying because I might just fail. That’s what dwelling on your failure does to you. It makes you think you can’t get anything right, you are not good enough and it prevents you from internalizing your successes. Don’t dwell on the past, it can’t be changed but you have the power to change your future. It also helps to write down your accomplishments no matter how little they are. Next time you feel so bad for failing, read your accomplishments and tell yourself, “’I can be better and I won’t let this bring me down, look at the things I’ve been able to do”. Don’t let failure or the fear of failure be an excuse to achieve nothing.
- Don’t compare yourself to another
Okay, I know comparison is difficult because whether we like it, consciously or subconsciously, we always compare ourselves to other people. However, there is the unhealthy comparison which I define as comparison that is excessive and brings the feeling of inadequacy. It can lead to depression and limit growth in someone’s life. It’s important to note that there’s only one you and you are original, God has designed you perfectly the way you are. So you don’t have to do things in a particular way to be considered worthy of the compliments you get. You also don’t have to feel like someone else should have what you have because you think they do more than you do. Be glad and grateful for your achievements.
It is said that a problem shared is half solved. If you have friends that are wise and understanding, you can always share with them. It’s a way of acknowledging your problem and getting help. If you cannot share it with someone, you can write it down. I do that often and that really helps me. Another thing I do is to think about why I would feel like a fraud. What makes me see myself that way? When I recognize them, I try to relieve myself or live up to it. What do I mean?
Let’s say I feel like a fraud because people think I know how to design websites when in fact I use Google and YouTube. If it makes me feel better, I could get a certification in it so I know that I’m certified or I could let it go and realize that I can be good without certification.
As a Christian,
When we feel like we are not smart enough or not good enough and we don’t deserve the achievements we have and the praises we get, we should also realize that God has given everyone grace and some have more grace in one aspect than the other. Perhaps, that’s where God has given you more grace and favour in. Next time you do something great and people acknowledge it, accept it and give thanks to God.
Happy New year you all!!! I just want to thank my readers for sticking with me regardless of my inconsistencies. Thank you guys!!
I hope you enjoyed reading this post as much as I loved writing it. What do you think about Impostor Syndrome? Had any experience? How do you deal with it?