10 Signs You are Suffering From Imposter Syndrome
We’ve all experienced self-doubt at some point in our lives...well, fine, many times...but what happens when this self-doubt is chronic and just doesn’t go away? Or leads you to see yourself as a fraud? Psychologists have started to pay closer attention to this phenomenon, dubbing it the Imposter Syndrome. As the name implies, it leaves those afflicted (women overwhelmingly) feeling like a fake.
While it’s not yet an official diagnosis, perfectionists and people who are often looked to as experts, seem to be more vulnerable to this condition. If you see yourself in these 10 signs, you too may be suffering from Imposter Syndrome (and here’s what you can do about it).
You are often described as a perfectionistYou have an inexplicable drive to control the final outcome in anything you do, and that outcome cannot be less than the very best. The mere idea of not meeting these high standards causes you to feel anxious, and its pursuit frequently brings you to the brink of burnout.
Try this:Perfect is a process not a destination (it doesn’t exist). Remind yourself that you will always do your best, but that your best will vary depending on the circumstances (your health, your timelines and resources, etc.).
You see yourself as a fakeDespite your experience and education, you feel sorely underqualified for the jobs you’ve applied and been hired for. You can’t help feeling like somebody made a mistake in trusting you to carry out this job.
Try this:It’s not reasonable to expect that you will be a natural born expert at all new tasks. Be patient with yourself. Experience is the best teacher, and you are doing your homework.
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You fear your “fraud” will be discoveredBecause you see your achievement as someone else’s mistake in judgement, you constantly feel on high alert and as if you have to persistently anticipate someone catching you in a slip-up. For this reason, you feel your work always has to be beyond reproach (see note about perfectionism).
Try this:You will make mistakes. And mistakes can be a good thing, when approached with the right mindset. Think of them as learning opportunities.
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This fear makes you feel anxiousThis fear that you will be “found out” causes you some anxiety, and your guard is up any time somebody offers constructive criticism, making you somewhat prickly to approach.
Try this:Be sincere and open with what you are working on improving. Nobody is perfect, and your candidness and honesty will be recognized by the right people.
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When doing your work, you tend to focus on your struggles and challengesWhen reflecting on your work, you tend to zero in on what went wrong, rather than what you did right.
Try this:Reframe your thinking and manually override your tendency to focus on your deficiencies. Recognize them. Take note. Come up with strategies to overcome these mistakes. But don’t dwell there. Instead, for each challenge, mistake, or error, also remember what you did right.
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You feel uncomfortable with praiseYou minimize your accomplishments and chalk up any success to external forces such as luck — not merit, nor your hard work. You feel as if anybody else could do what you do.
Try this:Simply say “thank you.” If somebody was directly involved in your achievement, do recognize them. But also accept the accolades.
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You use minimizing language“Just”, “only”, and “perhaps” are regularly peppered throughout your communication (such as your emails). You’re meek and afraid to speak boldly and stake claims in major decisions.
Try this:Be direct. Say what needs to be said with courtesy and tact. But forego the self-deprecating lingo. It does nobody any favours.
At work, you are reluctant to volunteer for tasks that are beyond your job descriptionAll this makes you risk-averse (and this is too bad, because you know what they say...no risk, no reward). You stay on the well-trodden path, and play it safe because all that worrying is taxing as it is. Sadly, this behaviour has ramifications for your career goals as well.
Try this:Try something beyond your comfort zone. Often, this is where the most rewarding experiences reside.
You feel like you’re “winging it”You feel as though you’re making it up as you go along, while everybody else has their sh*t figured out.
Try this:Consider this for a hot sec: A Hewlett Packard report found that men apply for jobs or promotions even if they meet only 60% of the qualifications, whereas women only apply if they feel they’ve met 100% of the qualifications. This has huge career-limiting implications, because what dooms the latter group is not failing, but, in fact, not trying.
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You feel like you’re not enoughDeeper feelings of inadequacy might be at the root of Imposter Syndrome. Despite the hard work, and despite all the knowledge you already have, there is a deeper sense of not being enough.
Try this:You may need to do some deeper soul-searching to determine why you feel this way, but the fact remains: You are enough.
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