Updated: Jul 29, 2022
Have you ever felt that you don’t belong? Or are you convinced that other people think that you’re more competent than you actually are? Potentially, you may be suffering from imposter syndrome. Continue reading to find out more about this fairly common and treatable mental health condition.
What is it?
People who have impostor syndrome often believe that their colleagues, friends, or family believe that they’re more competent and experienced than they are in reality. To put it simply, imposter syndrome is when you feel like a fraud and like you don’t belong and worry that you’ll be found out at any moment. Your income level, age, or expertise isn’t important in determining this feeling.
Psychologists Suzanna Imes and Pauline Rose Clance first came up with the term impostor syndrome in the 1970s. Initially, these psychologists assumed that it only deeply affected women who were high-achievers in the workplace, but as awareness grew about this condition it was found that it can impact anyone.
What are the symptoms?
There are many different symptoms of imposter syndrome, and it can depend on each person. Before we take a look at some of the potential symptoms, keep in mind that it’s important to talk with a health expert if you have any mental health concerns.
Some symptoms include over-achieving, anxiety, and putting yourself down over your performance. On top of this, even if a person achieves something in their personal or work life, they will constantly think their success came from luck, chance, or something external and unrelated to them. If someone has imposter syndrome, they will over-prepare for work or social events and even if they succeed, that experience won’t affect them internally. It doesn’t matter how many times things go well, they will always feel like they don’t belong, they’re phony, and it’s only a matter of time before colleagues or friends will find out. It’s a constant flow of social anxiety that can prevent a person from internalizing their success and developing confidence.
Imposter syndrome is also connected to feelings of self-doubt and of being an intellectual fraud which may lead to failure. Introversion and trait anxiety associated with imposter syndrome is made worse when one is harshly over criticized.
What causes imposter syndrome?
Imposter syndrome can take root from a very young age. When a person gets negative feedback from family or friends that they’re not good at certain things, this can set the perspective of yourself in a way that’s very difficult to change. An episode of imposter syndrome can also be triggered by life changes, such as starting a new job, degree, or moving to a new place.
Feeling like an imposter can lead to depression and self-sabotage, and the effect of this condition may bleed into other parts of your life. It’s believed that over 70% of people may experience an episode of imposter syndrome in their life, this means that it’s quite a common condition, and not many people talk about it.
Ask yourself the following questions:
I can give the impression that I’m more competent than I really am.
When people praise me for something I’ve accomplished, I’m afraid I won’t be able to live up to their expectations of me in the future.
I’m afraid people important to me may find out that I’m not as capable as they think I am.
Sometimes I feel or believe that my success in life or my job has resulted from some kind of error.
I often worry about not succeeding with a project or examination, even though others around me have considerable confidence that I will do well. (Excerpts taken from the Clance Imposter Phenomenon Scale)
How to combat imposter syndrome
If you think that you may be struggling with imposter syndrome, it’s important to share your feelings and experience with others. If you would like to talk to an expert visit www.themindmender.net to contact a therapist and find helpful resources.