Imposter Syndrome

Imposter Syndrome: Feeling Like a Fraud

We’ve all had that moment. You are sure you have no idea what you are doing, and don’t have the skills necessary for the work you are doing. You are out of your league and someone is going to catch on soon. That voice in your head telling you that you are not capable. I hear that voice when writing something out of my comfort zone. I had it when I worked as a therapist. I remember the doubt creeping in. Who in the world wants me as a therapist, what if I say or do the wrong thing, I have no idea what I’m doing, etc. I am in many professional groups and see that I am not alone. So many others second guessing themselves and doubting their ability to succeed. Where do these thoughts come from?

So, what is imposter syndrome?

Imposter syndrome is the name for this feeling and it is far more common than people realize. It is often found in people who identify as perfectionists and tend to be high achievers as well as those struggling with anxiety. There may be a challenge of internalizing success and feeling as though praise is invalid. The overwhelming fear of "being found out as a fraud."According to this article in the International Journal of Behavioral Science, it is estimated that 70% of people will experience an episode of Imposter Syndrome in their lifetime. These feelings don’t just show up at work. Parents may feel that they can’t be “supermom” and get everything done like others do. In a relationship, a person may feel that they don’t deserve the love they receive and can self sabotage to end the relationship before their partner does.

What can I do to stop feeling this way?

The Cleveland Clinic notes several things that you can do to overcome imposter syndrome such as:

  • Note your accomplishments: Print out emails or messages from clients praising your work, or put cards and drawings from the kids on the fridge. Seeing these positive messages can help quiet the negative

  • Stop comparing: Only measure your success against yourself, never against others, particularly what you see on social media. People tend to post the positives in their lives so you aren’t seeing their struggles and mistakes. Don’t punish yourself by thinking you aren’t keeping up with others

  • Turn these feelings around: a true imposter would never feel this way, and since imposter syndrome affects high achieving people at a higher rate, congratulate yourself for being amongst them!

  • Positive affirmations: Put positive thoughts in your head by repeating positive phrases such as “I am skilled at writing and I will be successful at my job”, or “I deserve the love I receive”.

Imposter syndrome is real and can freeze you in your journey. However, with a few changes in thinking, and recognizing your strengths, it can be overcome and you can move forward in your success.

Have you ever felt this way? What did you use to cope or silence the negative voice?