What is imposter syndrome, and how do you fight it?
Let’s set the scene: You’re working hard and doing well. Your boss comes by to tell you that the work you’ve done has been amazing and to keep it up! That’s great, right? Not if you’re suffering from imposter syndrome.
Imposter syndrome is the phenomenon of self doubt. According to American Psychological Association, it’s described as an “all-encompassing fear of being found out to not have what it takes.” If you are constantly comparing yourself to others, feeling unworthy and convincing yourself that you aren’t good enough or smart enough, then you may be experiencing imposter syndrome.
“Imposter feelings represent a conflict between your own self-perception and the way others perceive you.” (healthline.com)
How do you spot imposter syndrome?
The identification of imposter syndrome will require taking an honest look at your reactions to your work and yourself. Not all feelings of fraudulence present themselves in the same package. There are 5 types of imposter syndrome.
- The perfectionist – Sets excessively high goals for themselves.
- The natural genius – Judges themselves on the speed and ease with which they comprehend their tasks.
- The soloist – Feels asking for help shows they are a fake.
- The expert – Measures their competence based on how much knowledge they have.
- The superhero – Believes that working more and harder will prove they aren’t a fraud.
Symptoms can be small or large. They can simply be the inability to accept praise, which can lead to consistently attributing your success to ‘luck’ or ‘timing’ and, ultimately, discrediting your contributions.
Other symptoms include telling yourself you’re not enough, belittling your performance, and setting unrealistic goals. There is so much pressure on yourself that there is no other option than success and any hiccup in that journey sends you spiraling.
What triggers imposter syndrome?
Like symptoms, the triggers are many and varied. They can be carried over from childhood, appear when transitioning from a student to a working adult or hit you hard years into your work life.
Pressure to achieve, whether external or internal, diminishes your confidence. Did you grow up with a gifted sibling? Were you compared to your classmates? These pressures have the ability to instill a fear of failure and increase self doubt.
According to an article from Time Magazine Online imposter syndrome can be internalized from “…childhood memories, such as feeling that your grades were never good enough for your parents or that your siblings outshone you in certain areas.”
Some people have a natural tendency toward perfectionism, which can also trigger imposter syndrome. If you’ll never measure up to yourself, how could you possibly measure up to your co-workers? New responsibilities can also trigger the “I’m a fraud” alarm in your mind. This affects people in different ways. Some imposter syndrome sufferers will dive head first into new responsibilities to prove they aren’t frauds, while others shy away from new tasks in order not to “out” themselves as fakes.
How do you fight imposter syndrome?
The first step to fighting this mindset is noticing the symptoms. Remember to be kind to yourself, find positivity in your day and find small moments of success to celebrate.
Keep track of your progress! A physical record of your achievements and successes is a great way to keep your mind grounded in reality. (Now, if only there was a great source of templates you can use easily to track your accomplishments 😉 )
Even though expressing these feelings can be difficult, it is essential to moving forward. Also, remember to take it slow! Don’t push yourself to fight all the things at once. Track your thoughts, your accomplishments and work data, speak up about your feelings and, most of all, have patience. Read more about overcoming imposter syndrome here.
You’re Not Alone!
We don’t know about you, but we at Kroma definitely see ourselves in many of these points. One of the best reasons to speak out is to relate to others suffering from imposter syndrome.
“Psychologists first described the syndrome in 1978. According to a 2020 review, 9%–82% of people experience impostor syndrome. The numbers may vary depending on who participates in a study.” (Medical News Today)
Changing your mindset isn’t an easy process, and if you find these steps are not enough to help pull you out of this mental roller coaster talking to a professional is a great option.
Remember, you are not alone!