Harish has a stable job and all his colleagues like him. Even his manager appreciates his work ethic. However, Harish feels that he doesn’t deserve this recognition. He has a gnawing feeling that soon everyone will discover that he is not as capable as they believe him to be. He has a habit of dismissing his achievements because he feels like an impostor—attributing his success to nothing but a stroke of good luck. Harish’s thoughts and feelings can be associated with impostor syndrome.
If you can identify with some of these feelings and emotions, you may be suffering from impostor syndrome as well. Let’s find out more about the meaning and causes of impostor syndrome and how you can deal with it.
What Is Impostor Syndrome?
Let’s start by defining who or what is an impostor. An impostor is a person who’s pretending to be someone they’re not. They put on a front to mislead and fool others. If you dig deeper, you will find that every person has probably felt like an imposter at some point in their life.
Impostor syndrome can make you anxious about being exposed as a fake. It can even impair your ability to think positively about yourself. Not only does it affect you emotionally but may also hamper your work performance.
Here are a few common symptoms of impostor syndrome:
Questioning your self-worth
Neglecting your responsibilities
Underestimating your abilities and skills
Fear of failure or disappointing others
Feeling like an impostor every time you go to work can be exhausting. It’s important to recognize it for what it is.
What Causes Impostor Syndrome?
Impostor syndrome doesn’t just come from downplaying your skills. Many perfectionists also feel like imposters, worrying about not living up to others’ expectations. Ambitious people, experts or those who prefer to work alone often experience symptoms of imposter syndrome. They feel crushed and defeated when they’re not able to achieve their goals.
Let’s understand the common causes of impostor syndrome:
Many people who experience social anxiety or social phobia suffer from impostor syndrome. Social anxiety is about feeling anxious, uncomfortable or out of place in a crowd. You may feel like the people around you are judging you or talking behind your back. Experts suggest that social anxiety comes from a lack of confidence. If you are not confident about your abilities and skills, you may feel like an imposter in a social setting.
Culture Or Society
Society plays a significant part in feeding into symptoms of imposter syndrome. You may have heard negative or sarcastic remarks about your work or your appearance. These remarks can leave you with a stunted idea of yourself. It can also affect you in many ways, especially at the workplace, where you are required to prove your abilities consistently.
Our upbringing shapes us in more ways than one. Someone who grew up in a house full of kids may act differently from someone who belongs to a small family. This can affect how competitive you are and how much faith you have in your abilities.
There are many underlying causes of impostor syndrome but it’s important to acknowledge them. Overcoming impostor syndrome is possible only when you acknowledge it.
How To Deal With Impostor Syndrome
Overcoming impostor syndrome will help you become the best version of yourself. If you can understand how to deal with impostor syndrome, you will improve your work performance, seek opportunities and build lasting relationships at work.
Here are a few techniques to deal with feelings of being an impostor:
Challenge Your Inner Voice
Next time your inner voice tells you that you are not good enough or that you are a fraud, fight it. Question your feelings and don’t just take them at face value. Try to get to the bottom of it by digging deeper. This will help you understand why these feelings have surfaced.
Let Go Of Comparisons
The worst thing we can do to ourselves is to compare our success—or failure—with others’. You can’t assess your achievements based on someone else’s achievements. It’s not relative and it won’t provide you solid answers. Your success and hard work are your own. Recognizing this can help you stop comparing yourself to others and finding fault where there is none.
Understand And Assess Your Feelings
Don’t discredit your feelings and emotions, welcome them and understand them instead. Maybe you can speak to someone to have a deeper understanding of why you are feeling a certain way. This will bring you closer to a solution. Also, you will equip yourself with ways to deal with impostor syndrome.
You can overcome your impostor syndrome with careful steps and dedicated efforts. Harappa Education’s Leading Self course will teach you ways to rise above internal and external obstacles. The Iceberg Model is a helpful technique to understand and combat your limiting beliefs. Develop a growth mindset to make progress in your career and don’t let anything—not even yourself—stand in your way.
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