First described in 1978 by psychologists, Drs. Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes, imposter syndrome refers to an internal experience of believing that you are not as competent as others perceive you to be. While this definition is usually applied to intelligence and achievement, it has links to perfectionism and the social context as well.
I may have lost track of the number of times that I have felt this way. Thinking that the incredible milestones in my life have been a result of luck and not so much the hours of hard work spent on getting the results.
The thing is, I am not alone in feeling this way either.
Impostor syndrome doesn’t discriminate. It can happen regardless of the level of success a person has achieved only being amplified more now in ways as a result of social media.
Imposter syndrome (IS) can take a massive toll on self-esteem & confidence. So if we all feel like we are the fraud, and surely everyone else is perfectly good enough, where exactly are all these so-called highly skilled people that we have inside our minds?
It’s been a work in progress but there are ways in helping to combat this feeling.
Challenge your “inner bully”
Work to be relentless in challenging the inner critique that questions your abilities and self-worth. Listening to it can often leave a long term adverse effect and leads us to feel more negatively about ourselves. If we succumb to that voice, you’ll end up with what that voice wanted the result to be; so what’s the point in giving in? Might as well give what you are looking at a go.
Letting go of the need to find perfection every single time and aiming instead of just to try your best has helped to really shift what I want out of the task or situation. Instead of the acute stress associated with wanting it right every single time, I now take comfort in knowing I tried my best.
According to Headspace, we should remember that the feelings that trigger this response are literally just that - feelings that come and go. We need to try to change our relationship with them, so they don’t have a negative impact on our lives.
There’s a notion that we need to work to shut it out completely and you should never let these feelings of insecurity cross your mind. This is an extremely difficult and unfair standard to set which can almost make you feel worse. It’s okay to have feelings associated with IS, so long as you work through it before they begin to harm you.
It’s not always going to be positive affirmations and self belief though.
Sometimes I think it can be okay to be passive to those thoughts and have it flow through.
It can simply be one of those rainy days where you are not in the mood to accept any cheer from others or yourself. But with all emotional states being temporary, even if it sucks now, it will most likely be different tomorrow, or the day after.
Easier said than done for sure, but we have to be our own biggest fans.
The absolute least we can do is celebrate the goals we achieve, and cheer for ourselves.
The future you is thanking the work you’ve put in now to get to where you are going to be.
art by @theopeninvite
By Shreya Basu, Inclusion Advocate at GRLKND