What Is Impostor Syndrome And How To Get Out Of It?

Impostor Syndrome is the psychological process that people think less about them and never trust their own achievements. Despite the accomplishments that they could make, people with the imposter syndrome do not consider their personal achievements as success. Victory is misunderstood as luck or a result of cheating others and they do not consider themselves as intelligent and competent that they really are. The Impostor syndrome is especially seen among the high-potential women.

Primarily, it is due to the feeling that you are not authentically victorious, smart and proficient student that you are impressive as such.For example, “I am not worth of it”, “The selectors’ choice is wrong”, “I feel like a fraud” are the general and frequently seen feelings of the people with this impostor syndrome.

The Three Main Sub Categories of Impostor Syndrome Feelings are as Follows:

  1. Feeling Like a Fake: Feeling that success is not deserved or the professional position is not apt, the people having imposter syndrome deceive them. “Unmasked” or a feeling of “found out” is the commonest feelings stay in their minds. For example they feel that “People feel that I am proficient than I really am.” “I fear that others will know that I lack the required knowledge in the field”.
  2. Assigning Success to Luck: Individuals with the impostor syndrome do not accept their internal abilities and attribute the success to luck or good time. They say that “My luck is with me this time” “It was a fluke” as they fear of not getting success the next time.
  3. Discounting Success: Downplaying or discounting success is the third category of the Impostor syndrome. They often avoid by saying “It’s not a big deal.” “It was less important.” Statements such as “I could do it as it was simple” etc. They do not accept the compliments either.

Impostor Syndrome

Who Can Be The Possible Victims of Impostor Syndrome?

Impostor Syndrome is not considered as low self-esteem as it is seen in the highly successful people such as teachers, artists, academicians, and many other professionals. This is the reason why this varies from low self-esteem. There is a vast difference between these two. The impostor syndrome is generally seen in women, but recent studies show that men also suffer from this. Distinguishing this from the low confidence levels is a bit difficult and needs to have hands on human psychology.

The foundation laid for the impostor feelings is from your childhood like the attitudes, mannerisms, goals and environment created in home and schools and the instructions given by the teachers and parents play an eminent role in forming the mindset. Specific conditions of the play an active role in making someone fill with impostor feelings. For instance, when the person’s aspirations conflict with the family expectations, when the success rate do not match the required point, when few unrealistic ideas are imposed in contradiction with the gender, race and other aspects, we can observe this syndrome very close. Family conditions and way of thinking creates a difference in the people for a lifetime.

Notable researches are carried and there are two chief categories in family dynamics that let the impostor syndrome feelings to grow.

  1. Family Stamp: Children in the family are labeled differently with their capacity and caliber. If there are two kids in the family and the family label them “clever” and “sensitive”. When children grow, the family members do not wish to change their perception and continues to see the same way. Though the sensitive child gets equal grades as the clever child, he or she feels that he/she is not “clever” and this leads to impostor feelings thinking that she is not successful. Many a times, these labels contradict with actual situation.
  2. Family Messages of Dominance: The level of superiority is initiated within the family though the child is capable of establishing some hard task. When parents appreciate the other kids with the same quality thinking that their child is not that tough, it makes her feel that she is not really proficient and hide her strength before her family thinking that she is only average but not superior. So be cautious and analyze perfectly.

The Relation between Success with Impostor Syndrome Feelings

There is a relation or a link between impostor syndrome feelings and success. Impostor feelings connect to the incapability to the past inside and the present victory. Achieving success does not modify your feelings and even does not bring out your deficiency of deficiency.

Doubt About Success: Impostors continuously feel fear of inside failure. The responsibility of success and appearance that it presents are the main components of their fear. Since having a successful track will increase the pressure and feeling of failure in people with impostor feelings.

Burden Not to Fail: Though the victims of impostor syndrome bag high success, they tend to feel tensed of being “found out”. This lets them by not enjoying the current, may be tremendous success.

Certain Attitudes and Assumptions that Sustain Impostor Feelings:

  • Activity: Instead of disclosing the feelings of impostor, gifted women work hard to hide these feelings. Family and friends praise for the success and hard work they undergo every day to preserve the feelings of “found out”.
  • Feeling of being Fake: A lady with the impostor feelings regularly try to render answers to her superiors thinking that they want the, which in turn feel gives an idea that “she is being a fake.”
  • Use of Charisma: In connection with this, gifted women show their charm in accomplishing few things with the superiors and colleagues and though the task is complete on their ability, they mismatch with their charm. The praises she gets for her capability are misleading to her charm in her mind as she possesses impostor feelings.
  • Avoiding displaying Courage: A different way of preserving the impostor feelings is to avoid showing that she is able and confident. A woman having these feelings does not dare to show her intelligence as she feels that she may get rejected if she does that. At last, she satisfies herself that she is not that intelligent or deserves success to refrain this.

How To Get Out of Impostor Syndrome?

To overcome the Impostor Syndrome needs accepting that people don’t need to achieve perfection to be worthy. If you have impostor syndrome feelings, they don’t stick with you for the lifetime. There are few remedies to overcome these Impostor syndrome feelings to cope up when they arrive.

  • Assistance: In order to get reality check, impostor syndrome feelings must be discussed with the family and friends.
  • Analyze these feelings of Impostor Syndrome: Be attentive to the impostor feelings as awareness is the base of changing the mode of behavior and feelings. Let thoughts do not come automatically on your mind.
  • Recurring Thoughts: Perceiving a situation with unquestioned thoughts is the base of automatic thoughts and they can’t be stopped. Automatic thoughts may not be noticed by you though they affect your perception. “I am not smart enough” is the best example of the feelings brought by impostor syndrome. Feeling that “everyone else looks smarter than me” is the innate thought that drives them crazy. Watch these recurring thoughts to get out of impostor syndrome.
  • Self Reality Check: Try to be balanced in thoughts by pushing away the impostor feelings and automatic thoughts.
  • Knowing the Distinction of Feelings and Reality: People with this syndrome feel that whatever they believe strongly right. “I feel useless, it must be that am useless.” But the same feeling can be modified as “I am not really useless that I think”.

Coherence Therapy and Writing Therapy for Treating Impostor Syndrome

Coherence therapy can aid in relieving impostor syndrome.Unconscious emotional learning hold by coherence therapy needs an individual to respond with specific behaviors, thoughts and beliefs. Coherence therapy is unlike cognitive therapy which points the primary learning saved in the extreme, expression-processing segment of the brain that cannot be cured by other psychotherapy and countermeasures. Coherence therapists say that the person with self-depreciation and suffering from the impostor syndrome experience experimental juxtapositions. Core emotional understanding is to be appreciated to overcome the feelings.

Impostor syndrome sufferers can gain from writing therapy. Writing therapy lets the mind to stay organized by penning down their thoughts. Written list of the individual’s objective accomplishments can allow them to connect with the real accomplishments. It reminds the list of the objectives to be achieved and make people happy on writing their thoughts. The sense of inadequacy is avoided by writing therapy.

Few Instructions for the Victims of Impostor Syndrome

The following tips can really help the sufferres of imposter syndrome:

  • When preparing a resume/professional bio/etc. on describing your skills/experience, don’t minimize your caliber using words such as “just”, “only”, etc.
  • When you are called to complete a task, they feel that you are right to handle the task. Denying their conception results in insult and don’t feel pressure to do this and ruin the beauty of your strength.
  • Pay attention to the language you utter. Don’t try to throw a low-profile to family and acquaintances. Don’t underestimate your positive traits and insult your capacity.
  • Studying or preparing excessively projects that the person is suffering from impostor syndrome feelings. This throws a disadvantage and is a waste of time doing it.
  • Taking people’s opinion to describe qualifications, judging their caliber, and keeping a record of the same. Getting a positive feedback helps them to go on.
  • Management and technical skills are different. Recognize the positive traits and remember the last time how you gone through deadlines and memorize your ability of achieving the required objective.
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:April 15, 2019

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