Do you feel you don’t deserve it? Fighting the Impostor Syndrome

August 16, 2018 ...

Don’t have time to read? Then give it a listen.

Suppose you’ve got a promotion and have been appointed to lead a project. Well, that’s a good news. Everyone from your workplace is congratulating you. Such a great moment of your life. But deep down you get this feeling that you don’t deserve any of it, that you stumbled onto this opportunity as a result of pure luck rather than actual talent. Finally, you feel that you’re a fraud and soon you’ll be exposed.

If you can relate to this, then you are not alone. You’re experiencing the crippling effects of Imposter syndrome. And It happens to the best of us—even if you’ve never heard of it. So what is the Imposter Syndrome?

Impostor (or imposter) syndrome, also known as impostor phenomenon (IP), is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubt their accomplishments, and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud”. Basically, it’s that gnawing voice in the back of your head that makes you question your abilities and self-worth. “You got the opportunity because of your luck, you didn’t earn it”,  “you got to lead the project not because you are the most experienced but for the timing.” And so on! These thoughts make you believe that you’re not as capable as others. Slowly you start to feel unworthy of your success and think irrationally about your performance.

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Research suggests that something like 70 percent of people “will experience at least one episode” of IP in their lives. The more you’ll move forward in your career, the more chances are there for impostor syndrome to rear its ugly head. Now, if you are reading this article, chances are that at some point of your career, you too, have experienced or might experience impostor syndrome.

The godmothers of this concept are psychologist Dr. Pauline R. Clance and Dr. Suzanne A. Imes. It was introduced in 1978 in the article “The Impostor Phenomenon in High Achieving Women: Dynamics and Therapeutic Intervention” by Clance and Imes where they interviewed a sample of 150 high-achieving women. These women explained that how their success was a result of luck and others simply overestimating their abilities.They described how often they felt like a fraud. In the mid 80’s clance broke down some of its key characteristics.

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Clance & Imes

Now, because Clance and Imes did their research on women, a lot of people assume that impostor syndrome doesn’t affect men, but that’s totally a myth. Both genders experience impostor syndrome, but women are more susceptible to it and more intensely affected by it.

How does it happen?

The impostor cycle, as defined by Clance, first begins with an achievement-related task. Once the assignment has been given to the individual, first he becomes anxious which leads him to either spend too much time on the task or procrastinate and then rush to finish it. And when the task is finally done, he feels relieved. Then if the task is good, he starts getting positive feedback which is normal. But when the person doesn’t accept the positive comments, that’s when impostor syndrome hits! S/He ignores the fact that he could actually be smart – insisting s/he actually got lucky which gives him more anxiety and thus the cycle repeats on and on. 

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Do you have Impostor Syndrome?

Chances are you have. But how strongly? You can simply take this online test and find out if you have high IP or not.

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Now, If you’ve high level of IP,  It’s not likely you’ll ever be able to fully rid yourself of it. But the good news is there are ways to combat it. You train yourself and try these ways to overcome your fear of being a fraud.

1. Own your success:

Let’s say you’re giving a job interview and you are asked what exceptional things you’ve done.Suddenly you feel blank and realise you did a lot of things, but when you did, you didn’t notice it. Now, this is relatable to many of us. We’re not confident with our work and don’t greet appreciation. Impostor syndrome affects the less-confident people most. It is only when you are aware of how good you are, you become confident.

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Being confident will not let you doubt your worth

Don’t downplay your achievements.Create success log. Write down all the things you’re proud of doing. Even if it’s small. These records will bring positive change. And lastly don’t minimize the compliments you get rather say “Thank You”

2. Accept your role in your success:

Believe it that, you succeed because of your hard work and talent. You came this far on your own. Just don’t think that it happened as a result of your luck. Yeah, luck does play a role- but not all of it. So, accept your roles in your success. You achieved them all by yourself. Don’t doubt the intelligence of those who have promoted you, hired you, or offered you opportunities. Remember, Opportunities come to those who expose themselves to them.

Screenshot 6 1More importantly it’s you!

3. Be a mentor:

Hey sufferer, you can’t really imagine how much effective mentoring is to overcome IP! Once you start mentoring, you get to reveal your skills. Skills which you took for granted once and assumed them as luck. You get to know yourself and also you’re helping others in their journey too!

4. Say “It’s Impostor Syndrome”:

Whenever you feel that you are not deserved and are a good-for-nothing, just calm down and say in your mind that “it’s impostor syndrome”. And trust me, half of the troubles just go away. It’ll feel less terrible. Keep believing yourself.

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Once you believe in yourself, Impostor syndrome will not hurt you much

5. Impostor Syndrome is actually good sometimes:

Believe it or not, all the successful people suffer from IP. So when you’re feeling that you’re a fraud, that means you are doing something right. You realize how little you know – that’s what wisdom is. And what I understand is that it is the wise people who make the differences. So, if you feel that you know very little, that means you are actually learning more.


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It’s okay to have Impostor syndrome.

Life is a lot better  when you can appreciate who you are and what you’ve accomplished. So, if you have high level of IP, I hope these steps can help you to overcome it and let you to embrace your success. And if you think your friends also need this, share this to let them know.

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This article’s audiobook is read by Sadia Raisa

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