Imposter syndrome is more common than many people believe. It is found in both men and women and can occur at almost any age. The syndrome affects people in different ways and to different degrees. According to the Journal of Behavioral Science, up to 70% of adults will deal with imposter syndrome at some point in their lives. No matter how accomplished they are or how many achievements they earn, they begin to believe that it is all due to luck and that their natural ability had nothing to do with it.
Imposter syndrome is not technically a mental disorder or health condition. It is more thought of as a reaction to specific events that cause a person to question their own natural talents and abilities. Being put in an environment where a person automatically feels inferior or the need to be perfect in everything they do in order to be accepted are just two recognizable patterns that are associated with the beginnings of imposter syndrome.
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Luck vs Natural Ability
One of the biggest fears a person with imposter syndrome must face is that, even though they are quite skilled, someone will discover that their biggest accomplishments were the result of dumb luck instead of true talent. No matter how much they achieve, they don’t feel worthy of the accomplishment. The sense of failure and low self-esteem can lead to depression which is a recognized mental health condition. The fear that each achievement is just a lucky break can be demoralizing and will set a person up for future failure.
Different Types of Imposter Syndrome
There are five different types of personas associated with imposter syndrome.
- The Perfectionist – Everything must meet the highest standards or it simply isn’t acceptable
- Natural Genius – Naturally smart and learns without effort; challenges equal inadequacy
- Soloist – Needs to handle everything on their own; it’s unacceptable to ask for help
- Expert – If you lack any information, you cannot be successful
- Superhero – Must succeed at every task, every time, and in every role
With imposter syndrome, any imperfection or flaw can destroy your image and allow others to see you as an imposter. They will see that you are not as skilled as you portray and that all of your accomplishments were based on luck or an accident.
There are many possible causes that can lead to this level of self-doubt. Parents who constantly demand that their children push themselves to do better can lead to feelings of anxiety and inadequacy. Self-imposed feelings of doubt caused by not being able to pick up new skills as easily as their peers is a common cause. An inability to keep up with peers when it comes to performing difficult tasks can also cause feelings associated with imposter syndrome. Feelings of self-doubt that accompany not succeeding at a specific task are often taken to heart, with the person dwelling on the failure instead of the information and lessons learned.
The Masks We Wear
When it comes to feeling like an imposter, many people compare it to wearing a mask that makes you look beautiful or handsome. The image the public sees isn’t necessarily the person that truly lives inside the body. We tend to be afraid that with one wrong move, the mask will slip and others will get a glimpse of how we truly are. Our imperfections will be glaring and it will be uncovered that we are not who we claimed to be.
Challenging Your Doubts
Even though people experience the symptoms associated with imposter syndrome, the majority are able to overcome their feelings of doubt and unworthiness through challenging their doubts. Each person will handle these feelings differently and will be able to improve their self-image through positive self-talk and the reassurance of others. Surround yourself with people who value you. The ones who are not afraid to speak the truth and give constructive criticism when it is needed.
Challenging the doubts you have concerning your own abilities and intelligence isn’t easy, but it is part of the healing process. There are therapy options available to you that will provide you with the insight you need to overcome those inner doubts and use them as fuel to keep you motivated. Enlisting the help of a life coach who can give you insight in how you can readjust your thought patterns and become more aware and appreciative of your own abilities.
Premier Life Coaching Can Help
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