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Imposter Syndrome

Landed a new job? Got a promotion or a raise? Received praise for being a great team leader? Yet, you feel like you don’t deserve any of this. If you’re feeling that your achievements are not what they’re chalked up to be, then you might have fallen into the trap of imposter syndrome.

I’m a fake

Coined by clinical psychologists Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne A. Imes, imposter syndrome is when someone believes that their achievements are based on pure luck, aren’t worthy of praise or are totally unwarranted. There’s this inexplicable nagging feeling that despite all their success, they are not as good as everyone thinks they are. They fear that one day everyone will realise that they’ve been faking it or that they may be ‘found out’ as not being as intelligent or capable as they led people to believe. Basically, they feel like a totally fake.

Imposter syndrome may prevent people from applying for jobs, acknowledging their achievements, or feeling like a good partner, amongst other things. In extreme cases, people may have such a huge fear of failure that they stop trying new things altogether.

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And women are more susceptible to imposter syndrome than men…

Why is that? Perhaps because from a young age, girls are often taught not to be as confident their male counterparts. We’re allowed to be confident, but not too confident; because of this, we may feel we need to downplay our achievements so as not to intimidate others. Yet, due to certain expectations, whether societal or self-inflicted, we still feel that we need to do more, and be more, in order to measure up. So, it’s no surprise that women fall victim to imposter syndrome as we feel the pressure to be perfect.

Common signs that you’re suffering from imposter syndrome

  • You can’t acknowledge your achievements.
  • You feel the need to work twice as hard as others in order to prove yourself.
  • You lack confidence in your work, relationships or life in general.
  • You believe you’re a one-hit wonder.
  • You feel that you need to live up to exceptions (often self-inflicted).

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Removing the mask

If you feel that you may have imposter syndrome, how do you go about removing the mask?

Acknowledge the problem

Firstly, you need to acknowledge that you may have low self-esteem. Try to pinpoint why you feel like your achievements aren’t worthy of being celebrated. If you’re having a hard time confronting these feelings, seeking professional help can assist you in understanding yourself better.

Switch the negative to positive

Stop with the ‘why me?’, and ask yourself ‘why not me?’ Tell yourself how smart, hardworking and totally badass you are! Any time you find yourself having negative thoughts, stop, breathe and counter that negativity immediately. You wouldn’t say discouraging things to your best friend, so no need to say them to yourself.

Nobody’s perfect

Despite what pop songs might tell us, no one is perfect! Don’t expect yourself to be able to do everything at once. When you find yourself expecting perfection, remind yourself that there’s no such thing! You owe it to yourself to do your best and be kind to yourself.

Know your worth

Okay sure, you’re not perfect – but you’re still pretty awesome. Acknowledge that you’ve done some amazing things in your life and that those achievements deserve to be celebrated. You deserve to be celebrated! A great practical tool is to create a praise journal: simply list all your achievements and your amazing qualities, then when you find doubt creeping in, open your journal and BAM! Instant motivation.

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