Imposter Syndrome

“I have written eleven books, but each time I think, ‘uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.’” – Maya Angelou

Do you ever feel like you do not deserve to be in the position you are in? Do you have a strong feeling that luck or chance has played a big role in your success? That you somehow slipped through the system? Imposter syndrome is a condition prevalent among today’s workforce, where the sufferer feels like he/she is a fraud and has a fear that he/she will one day be exposed.

Feels familiar? It has been documented that imposter syndrome is notoriously difficult to overcome, but do not worry! In this piece we will have a look at some of the upsides of imposter syndrome, because in fact, research suggests that it can be something positive!

1. True imposters do not suffer from imposter syndrome. According to the idea or cognitive bias known as the Dunning-Kruger effect, people who lack in intelligence are also unable to acknowledge their lack of intelligence. So, it goes to say that if you are questioning your own ability, it is in fact a sign of your high intelligence. In a nut shell: true imposters do not suffer from imposter syndrome.

 2. It fuels your dreams and ambitions. Not only does the fact that you feel like this suggest you are smart, it also suggests you are a high achiever. You care. Not a bad thing, is it? The imposter syndrome is not cured by success; on the contrary, success accentuates it. An imposter needs to constantly stay on top of things and work hard in order to ensure they are not exposed. In this way, the imposter syndrome may help fuel your dreams and ambitions, and may actually play a part in your success. It is a chicken or egg situation.

 3. It keeps your feet on the ground. Doubting and questioning your own ability will keep your feet firmly on the ground, and help you remain humble.

 4. A fresh perspective. Appreciate the fact that sometimes you are not yet fully comfortable in your role; feeling overwhelmed and like a fraud means you are not yet steeped into the conventional wisdoms of the game. This gives you the advantage of approaching things from a different perspective and asking questions others would not think of.

 5. Do not compare your insides to others’ outsides. If you are having difficulty seeing your imposter syndrome as something positive, write down your successes, the positive things people say about you and most importantly, stop comparing yourself to others. Remember, when you do, you are comparing your insides to others’ outsides, which is like comparing apples to oranges.

Unfortunately, if you are suffering from severe imposter syndrome and anxiety, the above will not have convinced you, as you are most likely quite certain that whereas others believe they are frauds, you are the real thing. If this is the case, it is time to challenge yourself and be objective. This can be accomplished by asking for feedback from honest and forthright colleagues and friends, making a true effort to see yourself from other people’s perspective.

Are you suffering from imposter syndrome? How do you deal with it? Contribute to the conversation below.

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