Imposter Syndrome – Nov 2016

“I worry that someday everyone will find out that I’m a fraud”

Imposter Syndrome – the experience where someone feels like an imposter or a fraud because they think that they have deceived the people around them – is found to be more common than first thought. We think that we have got to a certain level in our life by chance/luck and that our peers are on the verge of discovering that we’re no good.

For example a CEO of a large company becomes preoccupied by her thoughts that she doesn’t know that much about business, that she will slip up at any moment and her peers with find. This is also in spite of the praise and accolades she has amassed over time.

Another example is a student who has just recently graduated from university with first class honours feels that his friends and family will eventually know that he got lucky in the assessments and that really he just wasted the last 4 years.

A common example is when a mother who works hard to provide for her children with the best life possible has this overwhelming anxiety that other mothers will see she is a fraud. She will feel that nothing she does will compare to the great job her friends are doing with their own children.

In spite of our success, the evidence to show we are OK, we just can’t shake this feeling of being a fraud. With imposter syndrome we can even convince ourselves that we are so bad that we don’t even have the syndrome and we’re faking that too.

Here are a few tips to counter this experience:

Accept that you have some role in your success – We often attribute things to luck, “I was just lucky with the results” or we discount performing better than others at that time “I only got the job because others must have messed up”. Its not always fair and other influences can be present but you did do something to get where you are now. We create opportunities for ourselves, we say yes to challenges and then we work hard to get the results required. Accept that you play a part.

Stop comparing yourself to others – When comparing ourselves with others it is easy to fall into the trap of viewing their strengths and success and comparing them with our failures and imperfections. Imposter syndrome effects more people than you think and we all have a tendency to view others as better. At the end of the day we’re all thinking that each other is better than ourselves, so who is right. Remember that you are good enough, you do what you can do and you do it well. And remember, making mistakes doesn’t make you a fraud.

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