Overcoming Impostor Syndrome

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impostor syndrome

We all have lived the moments where we feel that we have achieved something, not because of our capabilities but we exaggerated our abilities. A voice from inside tells us that we are not worth what we have achieved. The thought that soon we will be exposed as cheats and frauds, stresses us. We probably are suffering from impostor syndrome.

Why we suffer from impostor syndrome

Famous people like Albert Einstein many times mentioned that his work did not deserve the acclaim received worldwide. Many famous professionals feel that they do not know how things work but still get applauded for work. The list of people is endless. According to a study, 70% of people suffer from impostor syndrome sometimes or other. The nagging voice from inside is because our observation is from a single perspective and that is ours.

Definition of impostor syndrome

It is a physiological experience of believing that our own accomplishments were achieved not because of our abilities but because of being lucky or manipulations or lies. Hence the phenomenon is labeled as impostor syndrome.

In early studies, researchers showed that females were more affected by the syndrome. However as more and more women became successful worldwide, the results of such studies changed. Now it has been accepted that there is no difference between the sexes in the degree of experiencing impostor syndrome.

Reasons leading to impostor syndrome

  • Childhood experience – Many parents put achievements ahead of everything including character.
  • Anxiety – This leads to not believing in own abilities.
  • Neuroticism – Individual traits and assets are very important in gauging our abilities. One’s approach to life is defined by these.
  • Being perfectionist – For some being perfect and having zero error is everything. A slight flaw gives a feeling of not being capable.
  • Expertism – This is another dimension of perfectionist. Here a person wants to do every task perfectly as one’s brain perceives. Any deviation leads to an internal feeling of failure.
  • Genius – Few master a particular work or task quickly and start believing that they have inborn talent. However, when they are slow or unable to do other tasks, it leads to feeling low about one’s self.
  • Superman – Sometimes our family, friends and peers make us believe that we are good in everything However from inside we are  confused and when we achieve something, we are not sure if that was by luck or our abilities.

Overcome impostor syndrome

  • We need to remind ourselves that the feeling that triggered this are temporary. They just come and go. So no point clinging on to the negative thoughts.
  • Understand that real cheats never feel guilty. Hence if one is feeling guilty then surly it is just a self-doubt and nothing major.
  • Understanding that life is a learning process one should accept self and keep improving. Do not link failure or progress to abilities as one perceive about self.
  • Introspect the ability under question. Hence, if one feels that success was achieved because of an ability which is not present, it is time to recheck. Maybe you have not realized but it is present.
  • Meditation helps clear thoughts and get easy on one’s self. It helps eradicate acts from the weight of outcome. 

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