By Gladys Ooi Jia Ying
Do you feel that you don’t deserve praises for your achievement? Feel like a fraud? If you are constantly having these feelings, you may be having impostor syndrome.
What is Impostor Syndrome?
Impostor syndrome is a psychological condition characterized by emotions of self-doubt and personal inadequacy that remain despite your educational background, professional experience, and achievements in life. Although it is not an officially diagnosed mental health disorder, it is a real condition.
How do people get Impostor Syndrome?
There is no single explanation. Impostor syndrome is believed to be the result of a combination of circumstances, including personality traits and family history. It is also believed that if you are the only one in your work group with your physical qualities, you will be scrutinized further. Impostor ideas might be triggered by self-consciousness.
Common symptoms of Impostor Syndrome
The following are some of the most common signs and symptoms of impostor syndrome:
“Perfectionists” think that everything they do must be flawless. They have unrealistically high expectations for themselves, and even if they achieve 99 percent of their objectives, they will still feel like failures. Because they are more concerned with the 1% of their goals that they did not attain rather than the overall picture of the 99 percent of which they have achieved.
The Natural Genius
For the “Natural Genius”, they believe that learning new things should be simple. They often assess their competency based on the ease and speed of accomplishing a task as opposed to the efforts they put in. In other words, if they have set a time to accomplish a task but have been unsuccessful to complete the task within the specific time, they feel shame. When they are not able to do something quickly or fluently, their alarms sound.
The “Expert” has a strong desire to know every piece of information even when they have already learned everything they need to know. They often play catch-up and feel they never know enough.
The Workaholic is addicted to the sense of accomplishment that comes from working, rather than the work itself. Furthermore, they believe that seeking assistance from others is a sign of weakness.
How Impostor Syndrome affects your career and health
This Impostor feeling is not merely an isolated attitude or opinion, it can drastically affect your job performance and has also been associated with anxiety and depression. If you are plagued by the Imposter Syndrome, you tend to attribute your success to luck rather than your abilities and work ethic. The persisting self-doubt from Impostor Sydnrome can undermine your confidence and make you feel unqualified for your job, which eventually could hold you back from asking for a raise or applying for a promotion.
Impostor syndrome also makes people believe that they need to be perfect. To counter these feelings, you might end up working harder and holding yourself to ever higher standards. This pressure can eventually take a toll on your emotional well-being and your performance. You have a tendency to exaggerate everyone else’s accomplishments and downplay your own brilliant accomplishments.
In short, feelings of self-doubt can stir up a lot of fear, anxiety and unnecessary stress.
How can you overcome Impostor Syndrome?
If you feel like an impostor, you are in good company. The symptomatic feelings of inadequacy can be managed with time and practice, but they may never subside altogether. First and foremost, it is important for you to share your feelings with your friends and family. A good chat with someone who is supportive and knows you well can help you to realize that your impostor feelings are normal but also irrational. If sharing your impostor feelings with someone you know makes you feel uncomfortable, perhaps you can engage a therapist. A professional therapist can assist you better in recognizing the symptoms of impostor syndrome and aid you in developing new habits to guide you to overcome them.
Next, you should stop comparing yourself with others. Everyone is unique in their own ways. And everyone progress at a different pace. There will always be someone who is better and the act or habit of comparing often result in a feeling of lacking in accomplishment, leading to low self-esteem. The healthy habit that you should cultivate is to compare yourself with the you from yesterday. As long as you are consistently better from yesterday, you are headed towards the right direction and you should be proud of it.
Well, I believe in keeping tangible evidence of your positive accomplishments. Document what you have done, it need not be big. You can also keep your gifts or thank-you cards from people you helped. All these would serve as helpful reminders that people appreciate you probably more than you appreciate yourself. More importantly, these concrete proof of contributions will help you realize that your impostor feelings are not justified.
In conclusion, if impostor syndrome is something you can relate to, I hope you now know that you are not alone. We all have our own insecurities and some self-doubt moments, but it’s important to recognize these feelings when they’re actively hurting us in various aspects. Remind yourself that you are unique and good enough — even if it sometimes it doesn’t feel like it.