Have you ever caught yourself thinking about how you got your current job or how you were lucky enough to be born into such a prominent family?
Have you ever wondered that if others knew the “real” you, they wouldn’t like you? If so, you may have a common mental health problem called impostor syndrome.
What is impostor syndrome?
Impostor syndrome means a person doubts their abilities, feels like a fraudster and believes that his achievements are the merit of success rather than their own abilities.
Experts recognize this syndrome as a deep-rooted insecurity that can have a major impact not only on a person’s career but also on his or her personal life and relationships.
A person suffering from impostor syndrome may be afraid that he or she does not deserve good things, and may constantly worry that others will find out, expose him or her, because of which he or she will lose everything.
These fears can lead to unwanted long-term conditions such as depression or anxiety.
Anxiety caused by impostor syndrome can lead to overcompensatory or obsessive-compulsive behavior in humans. And chronic anxiety also does great harm to physical health.
Maybe all the above sounds familiar to you, then you know – impostor syndrome can affect anyone. It is not uncommon to experience outbreaks of impostor syndrome from time to time.
In fact, about 70 percent of people experience it in their lives. Sometimes such feelings are caused by a too critical boss or loved one, but impostor syndrome can also manifest itself in people who are not confident.
You as your worst enemy
Impostor syndrome is basically a kind of self-sabotage.
It can turn into a self-fulfilling “mantra” – believing that you don’t deserve what you have, you can worry unnecessarily about losing it, which can make it harder to achieve your goals.
For example, people with this syndrome may reject a promising job offer or deny a potential spouse because they think they are not good enough.
It is a cunning syndrome, and it can begin with unspoken, unconscious doubts about yourself, which over time grow into obsessive thoughts and deeply painful feelings. And it’s difficult to detect this syndrome on your own.
Some people are more at risk of impostor syndrome
Anyone can develop impostor syndrome, but the greatest risk is to people with a strong desire to be successful.
If the pressure of societies that value achievements and often associate them with human values is added to this desire, you have an ideal “recipe” for impostor syndrome.
The way you grow up also has a big impact.
Children who have been encouraged to accomplish achievements but have not been praised, and who have been taught that accepting praise is wrong, often take these feelings with them into adulthood.
People belonging to certain groups who experience increased social pressure, micro-aggression in the workplace or who have ingrained doubts about themselves are also at greater risk.
These may include the LGBTQ + community, women and people with darker skin tones. Factors such as stereotypes, discrimination and oppression exacerbate the development of impostor syndrome.
Anyone who is undergoing major changes, such as divorce or career advancement, is also at risk, as their self-esteem may already be precarious because of these changes.
Signs of impostor syndrome
The dominant feature of this syndrome is feeling as if you are a fraudster, a fraud in your career, in your relationship or in your life in general, but you may not realize that you feel that way.
Answering these questions listed by experts can help you understand your feelings:
- Do you think you do not deserve success or happiness?
- Do you have difficulty accepting praise?
- Does receiving an award or public praise make you feel angry or intimidated?
- Do you constantly question your skills and abilities?
- Are you worried that something worked out just because others felt compassion for you?
- Do you set too high expectations and expectations for yourself?
- Are you very sensitive to criticism?
- Do you have low self-esteem or self-esteem?
- Do you often notice that you think negatively about yourself, your relationship, your work or your life in general?
- Are you worried that if others really knew you, they wouldn’t like you?
- If someone asks you to list five things you are good at, do you find it difficult to list these skills?
- Have you ever yelled at someone trying to praise you?
- Do you usually reject compliments?
- In group projects, do you provide more for the work of others than for your own?
This is normal if you sometimes feel doubtful about yourself, but if the respondents to many of the questions listed above are positive and observe this pattern of behavior regularly, rather than just from time to time, it is likely that you will also suffer from impostor syndrome.
How to overcome impostor syndrome
This pattern of thinking may seem invincible at first, but with patience and dedication you can put an end to it. Here are some techniques that can help.
Talk to a professional
If overcoming impostor syndrome were as simple as telling yourself to stop thinking negative thoughts, it wouldn’t be a big deal.
However, such patterns of thinking can be deeply rooted and can be traced back to childhood.
Talking to a psychologist or mental health professional is a great first step in helping yourself find the source of those thoughts and learn how to change them.
Set realistic goals
People who have high expectations of themselves want to “get to the moon”, but such expectations can end in frustration and damage self-confidence. Instead, practice setting realistic goals that help achieve the overarching goal.
Say goodbye to toxic people
Impostor syndrome can live in your mind, but people around you who criticize, scold you, and treat you differently can exacerbate it.
And you cannot overcome this syndrome until you say goodbye to the toxic environment or the people in your life.
Make a list of your achievements
Seeing everything you have accomplished in your life can help you understand how much you have actually accomplished and learn to feel proud and happy about what you have accomplished.
If you have a hard time creating your achievement list, ask a trusted friend or relative to help you.
Stop comparing yourself to others
Someone often traps people with this syndrome where they compare their weaknesses to other people’s strengths. This can lead to deceptive thoughts, which can only exacerbate the problem.
The comparison is counterproductive. Instead of focusing on others, take responsibility for your own success and realize that you are not where you are, just by chance.
Create a journal of positivism
Your girlfriend gave you a nice compliment? Did you receive a bonus at work? A colleague praised?
Take a pad and write every compliment or praise you receive, no matter how big or small. Whenever you felt like a cheater, open this block and remind yourself of what you have achieved.
Practice accepting praise
If, when accepting praise or an award, you feel very uncomfortable, embarrassed or even angry, try role-playing with a friend. This will allow you to try a kind expression of gratitude and help you avoid self-denial or angry answers.