Trust yourself, you know more than you think you do. – Benjamin Spock

 

Imposter Syndrome. Maybe you have heard of it. As a concept, it has gained popularity over the years. But what exactly is Imposter Syndrome? Imposter Syndrome is defined as feelings of fraudulence, insecurity, or self-doubt, usually seen in individuals who have experienced success. Even though evidence exists that supports a person’s successes, they are unable to shake the feelings listed above. But where does it come from? Some believe that competitive environments lay the foundation of our doubts. Others say that being pressured to do well academically or in sports as children is where feelings of doubt and fraudulence come from. It has also been suggested that it stems from personality traits such as perfectionism. Regardless of where it comes from, it is a common experience. Up to 70% of adults experience Imposter Syndrome at least once in their lifetime.

What exactly does Imposter Syndrome look like? It can look like many different things depending on which type of Imposter Syndrome you may be experiencing.

  • The Perfectionist: Someone experiencing this type of Imposter Syndrome is rarely satisfied with their work because they believe they can always do better. They focus on their mistakes and flaws. This type of Imposter Syndrome can lead to elevated levels of anxiety.
  • The Superhero: Someone experiencing this type of Imposter Syndrome consistently feels inadequate. These feelings of inadequacy cause them to constantly push themselves to work as hard as possible.
  • The Expert: Someone experiencing this type of Imposter Syndrome is constantly trying to learn more because they are never satisfied with their current level of knowledge. They are often highly knowledgeable about their area of expertise; however, they underrate their knowledge.
  • The Natural Genius: Someone experiencing this type of Imposter Syndrome sets unreasonable goals for themselves and is devastated when they don’t succeed on their first try.
  • The Soloist: Someone experiencing this type of Imposter Syndrome frequently works alone because they are individualistic and view help as a sign of weakness. Their self-worth stems primarily from their productivity levels.

Once we understand what type of Imposter Syndrome we are experiencing, we can start to manage it. Below is a list of ways to manage Imposter Syndrome.

  • Acknowledge Your Feelings: The more we acknowledge our feelings, the easier it is to identify them when they come up. Increased awareness can help us on our journey towards change.
  • Build Connections/Reach Out: Building connections and reaching out can create relationships where we can receive guidance and support. One personal example of this is when I reached out to one of my supervisors, who wrote the quote, “Trust yourself. You know more than you think you do,” on a sticky note for me. I have kept that sticky note and look at it every time I experience my own Imposter Syndrome.
  • Remind yourself of all you have accomplished: Sometimes, we forget how far we have come. It is important to remind yourself that you made it to where you are because you worked hard and have the expertise.
  • Avoid Comparison: Try to avoid comparing yourself to others. Each person is different and has different strengths and growth areas. There are things you excel at that others do not, and vice versa.
  • Teach Someone Else: One of the best ways to remind ourselves of how much expertise we have is to teach someone else. When we teach others, we are reminded of how much we know.
  • Talk To an Expert: Talk with an expert, such as a therapist, to help you challenge your negative beliefs about yourself and your expertise. Talking with an expert and challenging ourselves can change the way we think about ourselves.

If you are interested in speaking with someone about your Imposter Syndrome, therapy can be a wonderful place to do so. There are therapists who can help you challenge your Imposter Syndrome and help you feel more confident. All you need to do is contact someone.