I Am An Impostor

That feeling that you are a fraud, that one day people will find out you have no idea what you are doing,  it has a name…Impostor Syndrome.  It can strike when you get that first real job, when you leave the hospital with your first child, or when you graduate from college.  You feel like you are not qualified or don’t deserve your accomplishments.  It is estimated that at least 70 percent of successful people have experienced Impostor Syndrome.[i]  So, don’t worry.  If you are afraid someone will find out that you are an impostor, they are probably too busy worrying about their own fraud to care about yours.

The filp-side of Impostor Syndrome is Entitlement.  The sense that one deserves more than others.  That phenomenon that we see in so many kids these days.  While most of us would rather be surrounded by impostors than entitled people, there are a few things we can do to slightly tip the scale away from Impostor Syndrome:

 

  1. Let go of Perfectionism. A drive for perfectionism is a classic symptom of Impostor Syndrome.  The more of a perfectionist you are, the more likely you are to fear being found out as an impostor.  This is especially true for those who try to promote themselves as being perfect and/or those who avoid behavioral displays of imperfection.  By lowering your expectations to a realistic level, the pressure of trying to be perfect is reduced.[ii]   No one is perfect, so strive for realistic, achievable goals.

 

  1. Stop Self-handicapping. Another behavior related to impostor syndrome is self-handicapping.  Behavioral self-handicapping occurs when people purposefully set themselves up for failure, such as by not practicing or reducing effort.[iii]  This is seen as a way to preserve self-esteem…you can’t fail if you aren’t trying, right?  Sometimes just being aware that you are self-handicapping is enough to stop the cycle.  Preparation and effort are keys to overcoming Impostor Syndrome.

 

  1. Focus on Your Strengths. Everyone has a unique set of strengths and accomplishments that makes them uniquely qualified for different tasks and jobs.  Realize that you worked hard to get where you are and you possess qualities that you need to succeed.  Make a list of your accomplishments, strengths and abilities and look at it often.

 

  1. Ask for feedback. Regular feedback on performance (assuming it is at least partially positive) has been shown to reduce feelings of being an impostor.  Be quick to give feedback when someone does a good job and don’t be afraid to ask for a review of your own work.  Feedback or assessments can enhance feelings of confidence and self- efficacy. [iv]  When you receive positive feedback, accept it and add it to your list of strengths and accomplishments.

 

  1. Change your View of Failure. Fear of failure can be a cause of anxiety and often goes hand in hand with Impostor Syndrome.  Small “failures” usually are not failures at all; but rather, they are opportunities to improve and learn.  “Failures are finger posts on the road to achievement.” – C.S. Lewis

 

  1. Help Another Impostor. Instead of focusing on yourself, shift the focus to those around you.  There is a good chance you are surrounded by people who feel like impostors.  Try reassuring the new person that they are doing a good job or talking with someone about their accomplishments… and don’t underestimate the value of a good compliment.

 

If you enjoyed this post, please don’t forget to comment, share or like!

 

[i] http://journals.lww.com/em-news/blog/BreakingNews/pages/post.aspx?PostID=259

[ii] http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0191886905002618

[iii] https://www.researchgate.net/publication/228512926

[iv] http://insight.cumbria.ac.uk/2084/

https://snappygoat.com/s/?q=masks#6e216e2201183a113897ac64b3b9d7ac46b10c42,6,2757.

52 thoughts on “I Am An Impostor

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  1. Love that you mention self esteem. For years I was told work on your self esteem. Then I discovered that was dependent on validation from others ( always a recipe for disaster for me anyway) Then I discovered Kristin Neff and her talks on self compassion, am currently working on that. Some people think ” oh, that’s just self pity ” but it really isn’t. It just we’re just not used to being kind to ourselves. Thanks for the post, really enjoyed it S x

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for reading! I’m glad you enjoyed the post. I’m going to check out Kristin Neff, it sounds like she has some great advice. I think so many of us are dependent on validation from others, sometimes without even realizing it. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  2. What a great post! This is exactly what I was going through all those years working endless hours at the law firm, hoping nobody would notice that in the end I had no clue what I was doing (or at least that’s what I thought). Thanks for this

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Exactly! Me too. I feel this way often in my legal career. There have been many times in the past that I would sit and spin my wheels trying to come up with the perfect work project, only to realize that I just need to produce my best work, not “perfect” work. I’m glad you could relate!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh yes, I know Impostor Syndrome very well. Great suggestions.

    I especially agree with the point on failure. I think we have to embrace them. Not try to fail but, when we do, we have to have a little fun with it.

    I aslo think it’s so comforting to realize that so many other people feel the same way. If most folks around us, especially folks we admire, feel like impostors too, how can we be so hard on ourselves.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I was surprised to learn that this is so common. I do feel much better knowing I am not alone. I’ve described this to people in the past how I know one day everyone will realize I have no idea what I’m doing. Another positive point is that Impostor syndrome is most common in high achieving people, so if you have Impostor syndrome, you’ve worked hard for it. LOL. Thanks for reading.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Hello, Rebecca! Nice to meet you. I love your points. I think we all struggle with many of them. I had issues with being a perfectionist. That took time to just “let it go.” I love C.S. Lewis too. Wonderful quote by him.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you 😊. It’s hard to find a balance between being a perfectionist and giving up too soon. I like to set time limits to prevent obsessing over making things perfect. I do what I can in the time allowed and then Let it go. I actually have the “let it go” song stuck in my head on a regular basis. Lol

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Ha ha. I know what you mean about that song in your head. I think it’s difficult when you are trying to achieve any high goal. For example, I’m trying to get a YA book published. I want it as “perfect” as possible, but there comes a point where you have to submit it and see what happens. I’m in the process right now. No book is ever book. It’s finding that “good enough” balance.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, definitely. I often ask myself, “what is the worst thing that could happen?” Usually, the “worst” thing is not really that bad, so that helps to defuse the fear. Thanks for stopping by and commenting:)

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Self-belief is so important here, as well as helping others to believe in them selfs, nothing is as black and white as that, but if you believe in yourself you are going in the right direction.
    really nice post, well written and presented, I enjoyed reading it.
    Nice to meet you Rebbeca.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nice to meet you too! I agree, believing in yourself is everything. I try to teach this to my kids, but it seems that we can only help others so much. I think it comes with experience and mastery. I try my best to encourage others though. Thank you so much for stopping by and commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. That was such an interesting post to read. I definitely suffer from some of those symptoms. I really liked the last point you make about failure. Recently I have been feeling a bit of a failure in a few areas of my life (on a bad day), but on a good day try and reassure myself that actually these things have left my world because they are making room for what is next. I have to have faith that is true, otherwise the failure demons will go to town. I love the CS Lewis quote too. I’m taking that one with me for today. Thanks so much 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  7. That was an invigorating post! I have a hard time admitting that I am full of crap to myself, even though there have been times where I have faked my way through certain situations. I am not out to impress others and if there is something that I don’t know, then I either accept the challenge to learn it or I move on to something new. I am aware that there are many people out there who are brighter than I am and they are more capable and willing to work harder, but since I am in the twilight of my life, I am no longer reaching for the stars and I get by fine, well at least enough to remain satisfied. I think that younger people suffer from imposter syndrome more than older folks do.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I agree Impostor syndrome affects younger people just starting their careers more than those who are more experienced or older. I have gone from thinking everyone knows more than I do to realizing that many people really don’t know what they are doing. Also, not caring about others impressions helps too! Thanks for reading and commenting!

      Like

  8. I’ve been accused of this very thing – can you imagine!
    Fortunately I’m too busy being an awesome and entertaining writer to take too much notice. 😉
    *you think they bought it, Robert? Yeah – totally, Robert – they’ll never find out our hidden identity as a nobody!*

    Liked by 1 person

  9. This was such an interesting read (and the psych grad in me wished I’d written it myself!) I often feel like an imposter too, and I love your tips, especially with regards to changing your definition of, and perspective on, “failure”. x

    Liked by 1 person

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