Am I wrong in assuming that most people have heard of this? It’s been something I’ve been aware of as a concept for a good few years now, and indeed I know coaches and therapists who specialise in it!
What is it?
In a nutshell: Imposter Syndrome is feeling like a fraud in your own life or circumstances.
People who experience it, worry that others will ‘find out’ that they don’t know what they’re doing, or they’ll get in to trouble when they’re exposed for the fraud that they really are.
Is it familiar to you?
I can definitely relate to it!
It can be exhausting to live your life like this: constantly waiting to be caught or found out!
It is generally a work thing. So the pressure is on, having to perform constantly as though you’re at the top of your game, you have most of the answers, if not all! Having to look confident, relaxed and like you know exactly what you’re doing.
No one would know that you’re trying to second guess everything, thinking on your feet and act in a way that will be perceived as 100% acceptable to colleagues.
God I feel drained just thinking about it.
It’s a strange thing though, because if you have Imposter Syndrome (and it’s not a diagnosis, it’s just a description so you can apply it to yourself and/or others freely!) chances are that you actually know your stuff, moreover: you’re hypervigilant about knowing your stuff. You know your stuff to a tee, so that if anyone questions you, you are absolutely prepared to answer in order to prove to them that you know what you’re doing. And then after the questions you’re likely to be beating yourself up as you rehearse (again and again) the conversation that you just had and what you should have said and didn’t.
Sounds funny? Maybe if it does it’s because you know what I’m talking about! And yet, it’s so not funny! It’s hard work being that hard on yourself.
In fact it can lead to other problems including burnout, anxiety and depression.
Imposter Syndrome is more common in women, and can stem from perfectionism, feelings of inadequacy, or having overly high standards set for yourself. It can show up in you acting like Super-Woman and trying to do all of the things, to combat feeling so inadequate.
What can you do about it?
- STOP being so hard on yourself! The standards you set for yourself are way above the standards anyone else expects of you!
- STOP focusing on you. No one else is as remotely interested in you, your knowledge, or your work – as you are. Fact. Sorry if you don’t want to hear that, but did you know that everyone else is already occupied with worrying about themselves, or some aspect of their lives.
- START acknowledging yourself. Give yourself some credit – look at what you’ve achieved despite having syndrome!
- START practicing gratitude (this is one of my stock answers to everything – because it works!). Instead of saying ‘oh I just got here through luck’, say “I am so grateful that I put in the time and the effort, because look where I am today!”
- DO NOT compare yourself to others. Because if you’re doing this, I would bet that it’s with an unfavourable glance at yourself. No one is as good as you at being you. So, be fabulously you as much as you can!