Imagine your best self, the one that seems almost unattainable. Think of how GR8 they are and why. Imagine if you were that self at this very moment, with every accomplishment your heart has ever wished for in hand. Now, imagine feeling terrible about it. This is the phenomenon of Imposter Syndrome.
What is Imposter Syndrome?
Psychologists Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes established the term. It was defined as a term used to designate an internal experience of intellectual phoniness that appears to be particularly prevalent among a select sample of high achieving women despite outstanding academic and professional accomplishments. It was first popularized in the 1970s when women first become more commonplace in the workforce.
While the term originated this way, it certainly does not exclude men. The tendency to experience it can come from a variety of factors but is often the product of past thought patterns or limiting beliefs. These can be inflicted by the self, others, or environment.
Any of These Sound Familiar?
Author Valerie Young has delved into identifying particular types of people that are believed to be most susceptible to developing this glitch in self-image. They are as follows.
The Perfectionist: The person with extremely high expectations. Even after success, they can feel like a failure if one little thing wasn’t met. Trivial mistakes enable them to question themselves.
The Expert: The person who insists that they require every piece of information about something before proceeding. They don’t make decisions without data. They avoid asking questions at times to avoid appearing as though they don’t know the answer.
The Natural Genius: The person who is naturally intelligent, receptive, and requires minimal effort to understand things. They feel like an imposter when they need to put in the effort.
The Soloist: The person who insists on completing things alone to avoid feeling like a failure of fraud.
The Super: The person who can, must, and will do it all. They feel the need to out-do everyone.
Running through the list, a few people may come to mind. You might have even found yourself. While these personality types are prone to feeling Imposter Syndrome, the range in who it affects doesn’t stop here.
What Can We Do?
Because there is no singular cause for Imposter Syndrome, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to it either. However, as it is decidedly a mental mismatch of reality, consulting with a mental healthcare provider may be beneficial in preventing the onset of Imposter Syndrome from actually derailing one’s success.
Outside of a professional opinion, if you find yourself tripped up—try to remember the following:
- How far you’ve come: Don’t minimize your progress by forgetting where you came from. Humbly take time to reflect on how you got to where you are today. You will realize that it wasn’t overnight and that quite a lot happened in the time from when you started to now.
- Don’t compare your progress: Your progress will never be the same as someone else’s. Where you are now is not the same place you were 10 years ago, and it won’t be the same 5 years from now. Everyone grows at different speeds. Embrace your progress.
- That success may never feel exactly how you plan it to: Surrender your ideas of what success should look and feel like. Success is not a linear path, and neither is feeling it.
The “what you think you become” concept applies closely with these sentiments. You can only spend so long thinking you don’t deserve success before you stop experiencing it.
While not easy, controlling mindset is critical. You know what they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Honestly, though, even if it were, would that make it any less impressive?