Are you constantly doubting yourself or your competency at work? Do you attribute your success to luck or to your client being in a good mood? Do you feel like you are not up to the task or that you don’t deserve to be there? You are most likely the victim of imposter syndrome, also known as fraud syndrome.
In moderation, this feeling of not belonging can have positive effects like modesty, being invested in your work and always trying your best. However, in the long-term, this could ruin your life.
Rest assured, it is certainly possible to rid yourself from this lack of self-confidence.
What is imposter syndrome?
Discovered in 1978 by two American psychology professors, Pauline Rose Clance and Suzanne Imes, imposter syndrome is a form of excessive self-deprecation which can affect all individuals, no matter their age, gender, profession or social status.
Despite their successes and the recognition received for their work, individuals suffering from this syndrome will constantly doubt their value. They will constantly feel that they don’t deserve their place at work, that they aren’t competent and need to hide their short-comings.
They believe their successes are down to luck, an accident or another person’s lack of judgement. They feel like they are lying to their colleagues and their superiors, and they are in constant fear of being found out.
Individuals suffering from imposter syndrome will not put themselves forward for promotions and will likewise refrain from applying to job opportunities or hold back from voicing their opinion for fear of being ignored.
This syndrome is widespread and affects nearly 20% of the population (Kevin Chassangre and Stacey Callahan, 2017). In 2007, a study indicated that 70% of the population doubts the legitimacy of their success at some point in their career. This generally occurs when starting a new job or accepting new responsibilities.
8 signs you should not miss
8 signs that you are suffering from imposter syndrome:
- You put yourself under a lot of pressure
- You lack self-confidence
- You’re afraid of being found out
- You don’t know how to accept compliments
- You are too much of a perfectionist
- You are too critical and self-deprecating
- You believe that anyone could do the work you do
- You attribute your success to fluke circumstance
Permanent anxiety, stress, introversion; imposter syndrome has menacing consequences on your health, your relationship with your colleagues as well as your work.
You can distinguish two types of reactions:
The first type of person sees themselves as an imposter and works obsessively in order to complete the task. In the long term, this attitude will likely lead to a burnout.
The second type of person procrastinates in order to avoid confronting the task, they are voluntarily putting themselves in a difficult position.
In both cases, these attitudes are detrimental to the persons health as well as their professional and personal development. It is important to act quickly before it is too late.
Follow the 5 tips below to regain your self-esteem and rid yourself of imposter syndrome.
1) Accept that you’re suffering from imposter syndrome
This is the first step to regaining your self-confidence. If you recognise the signs outlined above, you are probably suffering from imposter syndrome. Acceptance is a decisive step to solving the issue.
2) Speak to those around you
The feat of speaking to a close friend or a professional (doctor or psychologist) about your struggles, your anxieties and your fear of not feeling worthy is an excellent way to make yourself feel better. Not only are you finally voicing your problems, you will quickly realise you’re not the only person in this situation. In fact, everyone has their doubts and fears of not being up to the task. You will realise you are completely normal and there’s no shame in occasionally doubting yourself.
3) Stop comparing yourself to others
Parents often compare their children with eachother. There is nothing worse than growing up constantly feeling scrutinised. Every human being is unique and has their own skills and talents. Stop comparing yourself, your failures and your successes to other people’s, and come to accept who you are. Rest assured, even if your colleagues seem completely confident now, they will certainly have had their moments of doubt in the past.
4) Accept that perfection does not exist
No one is perfect, and, in any case, perfection does not exist. Everyone makes mistakes, it’s inevitable and its part of life. Thanks to your mistakes you will learn and improve yourself. By accepting that and also accepting your qualities and your faults, you will have better self-esteem.
5) Learn to accept compliments
Stop rejecting compliments and focussing on criticism. The next time your manager congratulates you for your work or your colleagues thank you for your contribution, listen to them, accept what they say and thank them with a smile. It’s as simple as that.
Keep track of your successes and the compliments you receive in a notebook. As soon as you start doubting yourself, take a look at your notebook to boost your confidence.
If your situation does not improve despite this advice, do not hesitate to seek the advice of a mental health professional who will help you improve your self-worth.