Imposter Syndrome is characterised by a feeling of intellectual fraudulence, and is common amongst creative people and high achievers. Sufferers feel that they are not as talented as people believe and that they’ve bluffed their way along; these people are waiting for their luck to run out and for someone to expose them as the fraud they feel.
Imposter syndrome is a growing problem for people in the workplace, especially younger generations; one third of millennials suffer from imposter syndrome in the workplace, but the cause of this mass decrease in self-confidence isn’t clear.
Perhaps people feel less confident due to continual changes in the workplace. It could be caused by the difficulties young people have had getting into meaningful work; or even the high incidence of graduates ‘devaluing’ degrees, leading employers to vale experience over qualifications. This leads to many young people working for free or for low pay in order to boost their profiles.
Imposter syndrome is closely linked to feelings of anxiety, which has increased sharply in teens and young adults in recent years
Perhaps we can lay the blame on social media which distorts people’s perception of real life and encourages a comparative mindset?
Imposter syndrome disproportionately affects women, racial minorities, and LGBT individuals. According to Valerie Yong, this is because of the added pressure of ‘accomplishing firsts’.
Most likely, it’s a combination of all these things and more.
Increased success and praise just makes sufferers feel they’re one step closer to being found out.
Imposter syndrome may mean missing great opportunities because you don’t believe you are capable of rising to the challenge, or afraid of what will happen when people figure out you’re not as great as they originally thought.
Imposter syndrome won’t be fixed overnight, but remember these things whenever you don’t feel good enough:
- Don’t let messing up ruin your confidence – everyone makes mistakes, and you are thinking about your mistakes much more than anyone else ever will. Use your mistakes as an opportunity to learn, not to punish yourself – remember what Henry Ford said: “Failure is only the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.”
- Be kind to yourself. Why do you expect more from yourself than anyone else? Speak to yourself in a way you would speak to a friend
- Just because you feel something it doesn’t mean it’s true. Keep an achievements log that you update frequently to read when you’re feeling insecure about your abilities
- Celebrate your achievements. Learn to really listen to positive feedback and accept it on face value rather than dismissing it as someone being generous or kind
- Is everyone involved in your hiring process or has given you positive feedback an idiot? Of course not! Trust that the people who hired you did so because you’re right for the job and if you weren’t you would not still be there
- Everyone is just winging it – that’s life! Instead of feeling like everyone has their life together whilst you’re flying by the seat of your pants, look at your ability to ‘wing it’ as a skill that will serve you very well in your career!
These tips might seem simple but actually they’re all about changing the way you think about yourself, which is a huge task! Cognitive Behavioural Therapy has had excellent results in treating imposter syndrome, and CBT techniques allow you to learn new thinking habits which allow you to overcome this barrier to career success