What is Imposter Syndrome?

Imposter syndrome is something that refers to believing you’re not as capable as others perceive you to be. Having links to perfectionism and achievements, in a way it’s feeling like you’re some kin of phony. Like, you feel as if you’re not the person, people think you’re and in a way like a fraud. Feeling like you don’t belong where you’re, it can affect anybody and it doesn’t matter at what point in life you’re at or your work background etc.

Symptoms

There are many common signs when it come to imposter syndrome, of course everyone experiences it it in different ways. Some of the common signs include:

  • Self-doubt
  • Attributing your success to external factors
  • Overachieving
  • Sabotaging your own success
  • Feeling disappointed when you fall short on very challenging goals
  • Feeling unworthy of success
  • Feeling anxious or depressed
  • Feeling undertrained
  • Fearful they will be discovered to be a fraud

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Types

When it comes to talking about imposter syndrome there are many different types, not everyone will take on a specific type and it will affect people differently. There is the soloist, this is someone who prefers to be an individual and work alone all the time. The self-worth they portray often comes from their productivity as a whole. Then there is the natural genius this is someone who has quite challenging goals for themselves and they often feel very defeated when they don’t succeed in them. Then there’s the superhero, these individuals feel quite inadequate and they often feel they have to push themselves to work as hard as they can.

Another type is the expert, these people are constantly trying to learn more and they never feel satisfied, they’re quite highly skilled as well. Then there’s the perfectionist, these are the people that are never satisfied no matter what, always feeling they could be doing better. They do this rather than focusing specifically on their strengths and they massively focus on their flaws instead. Leading to intense anxiety and putting a lot of pressure on themselves.

Causes

There are no particular common causes as to why people start to develop signs of imposter syndrome, but there are many causes that can often be linked to it as a whole. It’s a lot more common when trying to do something new and feeling that intense pressure to achieve. Family dynamics are a common cause, having particular family expectations and having that certain amount of value within success and perfectionism within childhood, can really stay with someone throughout their life. Cultural expectations, different cultures as a whole and having these different values within the topics of education and career etc.

Having specific individual personality traits, having this idea of being perfect and this constant need to strive for this intense amount of perfection. This as a whole, can lead to imposter syndrome, having things that come into play with comparisons as a whole, playing this game of comparing yourself to others massively. This can then make you feel down or like you don’t belong. Feeling like you’re not doing enough, because you’re not achieving the same as everyone else, or at the same point as them in your life.

A lot of the time imposter syndrome and social anxiety can often connect to one another. Someone who suffers with social anxiety often may feel like they don’t fit in with society or are doing as well as they should be. Just because they connect to one another, doesn’t always mean that someone who has imposter syndrome suffers with social anxiety and that works both ways. People that suffer can also feel like they lack a lot of confidence.

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Coping

Having imposter syndrome can be quite difficult and it can be quite a stressful for the individual struggling. But, there are some ways in which you can help yourself cope a little better. A key step is by asking yourself some quite tough questions, things that make you question your worthiness and whether or not you have to be someone you’re not for others to approve of you. It’s about becoming more comfortable coming face to face with the beliefs that you have about yourself. Being able to share your feelings, talking to others about how your feel, not hiding your feelings away, is a great step to be able to cope better.

Taking things slow, don’t focus to much on doing things perfectly, get out of that habit, do your best and reliase that’s all you can do. Reward yourself with the small steps you make as slow and steady progress is often the best kind. Stop comparing yourself to others, because this will instantly make you fell down about yourself and it can be quite a toxic cycle of self-doubt. Stop fighting your feelings, don’t try to fight the feelings like you don’t belong, try to just accept them in a way. Don’t let it hold you back, prove it wrong and stand up to it, don’t overuse social media because this can often make us feel down about ourselves.

Learn to separate the feelings from facts, there are often times you might feel stupid and this happens from time to time. Reliase that just because you feel this way, certainly doesn’t mean you’re. Don’t feel pressured to be someone you’re not, because this will often make you feel a lot worse. Try and start to develop a healthy response to failure and making mistakes, don’t let it put you down, instead learn from it. Use it as a way to grow, rather then as a way to beat yourself up.

It is best that if you feel like you’re struggling to cope with it, that you reach out and speak to a professional. They can then guide you in the right direction to getting help and coming up with techniques to help you deal with the imposter syndrome better. Don’t feel like you can’t talk to anyone, there is always someone out there who is willing to listen, talk to someone you trust. Reach out to a professional, speak to your GP, talk to a therapist, there will always be someone who will be willing to listen and help you cope.

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Words: Karley Myall