Have you ever doubted your abilities and confidence in what you do regularly? Felt that your not capable of doing the task well, even after achieving good feedback and high-quality standard? If so, it may be linked to something called ‘Imposter Syndrome.’ This was first given its name in 1978 by two American Psychologist, Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes. Many people have probably experienced this feeling through all walks of life, whether at work, university, school, the gym, a class or any social setting. Do you have that voice in your head that tell you that you aren’t good enough?
For example, when I was applying for my Masters in Psychology part of me doubted my academic intelligence, that I wouldn’t fit in, others would be better and I would be rubbish. The catch 22 is though, that people who show qualities of this often actually have a real desire to achieve and be successful – it is our minds playing tricks and allowing us to self-doubt!
If it still isn’t quite clicking maybe this diagram will help below –
The syndrome can make us believe that others already know what we know so we discount its value and makes us feel less entitled for feeling proud of learning or doing something new. Or that it is easy, that by not knowing it we are not as good as others. The reality is this is not healthy. It is good for us to take on board and recognise that we have achieved something, and we have done that you the best of our ability. Not focusing on how others have done or what they know.
Why can this be a problem? Well, the image below illustrates nicely how we can distort our assumption of what we think we know and what we think other knows, leading to a lack of self-confidence and can potentially spiral in anxiety and depression if not managed. So, it is key to look into dealing with our expectations and to try and release doubtful fears. A good way to tackle this is through daily gratitude and positive affirmations, which help you to believe and motivate your mindset. Every day I post a daily affirmation which you can say to yourself and start to train your brain to feel more confident. I also have a gratitude blog post if you scroll back on the blog posts which can kick start you to reframe and establish goals and targets you can let go of external pressures or be less focused on it – check it out – Gratitude journal practice blog
I know I have felt inadequate at times and that others know more than me in social settings. Imposter syndrome can affect us all, no matter what our backgrounds are we have probably all felt that we aren’t good enough at some point. But stop and think about the environment you are in; are you at university in a class – chances are you are all thinking the same questions it’s just who says it first. The same as with work, you are all still learning and finding out new aspects. This can be applied to so many social situations that you find yourself in. So, to combat this I have devised some key top tips for you all:
- Be confident and believe in yourself in every situation, even if you don’t fully feel it – you are amazing!
- Support and nurture others – you don’t know how they are feeling on the inside, and that might be you one day so treat others as you would like to be treated.
- Always continue to grow and develop yourself. Learning new things can be scary because we don’t feel confident in it yet – but it pays off in the long run.
- Challenge yourself and focus on what you know you can do; not what people may find you can’t.
You got this.
“Everyone of us needs to show how much we care for each other and, in the process, care for ourselves.” – Diana, Princess of Wales
- Prevalence, Predictors, and Treatment of Impostor Syndrome (2020)- https://doi.org/10.1007/s11606-019-05364-1
- It feels a bit like Imposter Syndrome (2017) – https://pillars.taylor.edu/mahe/86/