Find out if you're suffering from imposter syndrome

Find out if you're suffering from imposter syndrome
Find out if you're suffering from imposter syndrome

Do you sometimes feel your achievements are not the result of your hard work and skill but are just luck? And do you fear that one day, someone will reveal you as an imposter or fraud? You might have imposter syndrome!

People suffering from imposter syndrome feel they don't deserve to be where they are and only got there are by sheer chance. The term is most commonly applied to the fields of work and intelligence but is equally applicable to relationships.

Imposter syndrome can also be a form of social anxiety. Even if you perform well in a social situation, you feel that it's just chance and that a socially inept person will never belong in the group. Your belief that you are socially awkward is so strong that you always feel like an imposter and are at risk of being found out. People suffering from imposter syndrome tend to hide their feelings and will suffer in silence. These feelings will eventually worsen anxiety and may trigger depression.

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The signs and symptoms of imposter syndrome

Some of the signs of imposter syndrome that you might recognise in yourself include:

  • Feelings of self-doubt
  • An unrealistic assessment of your skills and intelligence
  • Attributing your achievements to luck
  • Criticising your own performance
  • Fearing that you won't meet expectations
  • Overachieving
  • Self-sabotaging
  • Feelings of disappointment when you fail to achieve very demanding goals

People suffering from imposter syndrome are often high fliers, but their achievements come at the cost of perpetual anxiety. They may work harder than required or prepare over-meticulously so that no one discovers that they are "faking it". They seem unable to internalise their successes. The greater their achievements, the more they feel like imposters.

This syndrome can be triggered by parents who flipflop between high praise for a child's achievements and criticising them too harshly. It can also be triggered by moving into a different life stage; for example, a student starting at university for the first time might feel that they don't deserve to be there.

Identifying imposter syndrome

If you suffer from imposter syndrome, you're certainly not alone! Psychologists believe that around 70% of people will experience imposter syndrome on at least one occasion in their lives. Ask yourself the following questions to find out if you might be one of them:

  • Are you a perfectionist who worries over the tiniest mistakes?
  • Do you believe your success is due to external factors or luck?
  • Are you hypersensitive to criticism?
  • Do you worry about being exposed as a fraud?
  • Do you underplay your abilities, even on occasions when you know you are more skilled than others?

Imposter syndrome is characterised by self-doubt, negative thoughts and self-sabotage and can impact on many aspects of your life. Bach Flower Mix 44 is specially formulated to help with performance anxiety and a lack of self-confidence.

Imposter syndrome types

Psychologists have identified several different personality types who are likely to experience imposter syndrome:

  • Superheroes: these people can never measure up to the challenges they set themselves and drive themselves very hard.
  • Natural geniuses: these individuals have extraordinary natural abilities but feel devastated the first time they fail at something.
  • Perfectionists: rather than focussing on their achievements, perfectionists fixate on tiny mistakes or flaws. They often suffer high levels of anxiety.
  • Experts: always trying to learn more about their subject, experts are never satisfied with their level of knowledge and tend to underate their own abilities.
  • Soloists: Soloists dislike being part of a team and will often refuse help, seeing it as a sign of incompetence or weakness.

Overcoming imposter syndrome

To get past feelings of being an imposter, you need to confront some of your most deeply rooted beliefs about yourself. No matter how much you feel like you don't belong, don't let that stop you from pursuing your goals.

Here are a few techniques to try:

  • Talk about your feeling and emotions. When you share your irrational anxieties, they are less likely to fester and take hold.
  • Assess your skills and abilities, then write down all that you have achieved in our life. Compare the list with your self-assessment - the difference might surprise you!
  • Practice focusing on others. In social situations where you feel anxious, look out for others who might be in the same position. Ask them a question and try to help them into the group. This is an excellent way to develop your own social confidence. When you're feeling stressed, Bach Flower Mix 85 is an effective way to help reduce feelings of anxiety.
  • Small steps count. Don't try for perfection but aim to do things well enough. For example, in a social situation, try telling a story about yourself or share an opinion.
  • Don't compare yourself to others. Every time you compare yourself to someone else, you will discover some failure or fault that drives your feelings of being an imposter. Focus on the other person instead and really listen to what they are saying.
  • Limit your use of social media. The images people post on social media often paint a picture of perfection that may be far from the truth. If you try to match these goals that are impossible to achieve in reality, it will only strengthen your belief that you are an imposter.
  • Ask whether your fears are rational. Given everything that you've achieved in your life, does it make sense to believe that you are a fraud?

Final thoughts

Acknowledging that you are suffering from imposter syndrome is the first step in dealing with it. Don't allow negative emotions to hold you back. When you feel self-doubt starting to creep in, try to turn your thoughts to a positive direction by remembering everything you've achieved in your life. This will boost your self-confidence and set you on the right path to deal with future challenges.

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Marie Pure

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