People with imposter syndrome feel as if they will be found out at any moment, so they don’t share things often. However, impostor syndrome can affect anyone irrespective of status, background, or expertise.
Psychologists first used the term in the nineties, and it was initially thought to apply to high-achieving women, but it has been widely experienced since then. Below are some signs of imposter syndrome, the forms, and how to cope with it.
Hallmarks of imposter syndrome
- You often deny credit for your success, or you attribute your success to external factors
- You often berate yourself
- You don’t realistically access your abilities
- You set impossible goals and feel disappointed when you don’t meet them
- Because you underestimate your abilities, you tend to overprepare or work harder than necessary to ensure nobody finds out you’re a fake
Everyone feels like an imposter sometimes, but having this feeling continuously is dangerous and can damage your self-esteem. If you think the only reason you survived that class presentation was that you read all night or got promoted at work because you worked a lot more than your peers, then you have imposter syndrome.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself to know if you have imposter syndrome:
- Do you feel like you’ll be eventually exposed as a phony?
- Do you agonize over minor flaws or mistakes in your work?
- Do you often take constructive criticism to heart?
- Do you criticize yourself, even in areas where you’re more skilled than your counterparts?
If you can relate to any of these questions, you have imposter syndrome and need help. Of course, many factors like family upbringing, trying to fit into a new environment, personality, and social anxiety can trigger imposter syndrome, but you need not let it define you; if not, you’ll be looking over your shoulder all your life.
To cope with imposter syndrome, you need to understand that you’re worthy of love, affection, achievement, or praise. Accept that you’re not perfect, but you are good at what you do and confront the way you see yourself. Question your thoughts, access your abilities, and don’t let feelings of inadequacy hold you back. Only then can you be the best version of yourself. You can also speak to a therapist if you need to communicate your feelings.