There is a huge chance that you are amongst the 70% of people who have experienced at least once an episode of the Imposter Syndrome (IS). I did, in all my corporate jobs. Imposter Syndrome is a term that was first used in the 1970’s by psychologists Suzanna Imes and Pauline Rose Clance in the 1970s.
Imposter syndrome is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a “fraud”. According to Wikepedia.
In simpler words, it means that someone believes they are not performing as well as everybody else thinks. They are critical of themselves, worried about making mistakes and expecting to be found out by the people who rate them really high.
No matter how many praise and compliments come their way, they can’t take that on board. They lack confidence and self-belief and the discrepancy between the external feedback and the internal belief system creates huge anxiety. It’s a gap, which is too huge to bridge.
The Imposter feels like a fraud, is convinced they can’t live up to the high expectations and know that earlier or later, they will be discovered as the incapable and unprofessional performer they really are.
The vicious circle of Imposter Syndrome
The basis of Imposter Syndrome is a lack of confidence, which is rooted in a poor relationship with the self. The imposter or pretender is looking for external validation, but when that is given it has a negative impact. Instead of embracing it and using it to validate themselves, they use it to undermine themselves and their confidence even more. Read more about external vs internal validation.
What triggers Imposter Syndrome?
- Being raised in a family that highly values achievement – fuelling the feeling of incompetence towards high expectations
- Receiving both praise and criticism for similar achievements – fuelling confusing, because how can you do both at the same time? It clouds the judgement
- Entering a new role or new circumstances – no one might have voiced expectations, but change always has an element of fear for the not knowing, which can be translated in the need to perform exceptionally well
- Being around people who have high expectations – always fighting to fulfil those expectations
Emotions around Imposter Syndrome
The common emotions of the imposter are not supporting well-being and happiness, they are creating the ‘knot in the stomach’ collection of:
- Fear of failure
Imposter Syndrome is the effect of underlying limiting beliefs and an unloving and unappreciative relationship with the self as a result of success.
Success can break you…. If you let that happen.
Success can build you…. If you choose so.
Do you want to know if you are an imposter? Take the quiz and find out.