All over the world, people have worked hard for centuries to make their lives and countries better. They have struggled, fought wars, and even died to make the lives of the people they care, better. But enough with the heavy, we are here today to talk about the Imposter Syndrome.
Yes, you might have heard of it. This is a psychological condition where people undervalue what they have done as a fraud and curse themselves for being useless and not being able to produce something using their ideas.
You may know a lot of creative individuals that excelled in their fields by working hard and not letting anything stop them to achieve greatness, and you also must be an accomplished professional that has worked hard to wherever you are right now. You should be proud of that.
But if you are not proud of it and you’re secretly afraid that you might be caught for something that you have never even done to aid your career, then there’s some bad news for you. You might be suffering from Imposter syndrome.
What is Imposter Syndrome?
The syndrome is based on the person’s shortcomings and self-doubt that the achievements that they had collected over the years were not theirs to take and one day, their fraudulent success is going to come out in front of their family and peers, exposing them badly.
The term imposter syndrome was first coined by clinical psychologists in the late 1970s when they noticed that a group of talented women at college felt very nervous and insecure about their academic careers and they were worried that their true capabilities were going to be exposed if they took the exam.
After that discovery, numerous accounts have been documented where men and women showed signs of nervousness and insecurity throughout their lives and are fearful that someday someone is going to expose them as frauds, even if they have done nothing of the sort.
According to an estimate, more than 70 percent of the world population will go through this phase before we bite the dust.
According to research, this syndrome of more deadly for those of us that are working in the creative industry. Why? Well, as we all know in the creative world, some people are born gifted while the rest of us have to work all our lives, just to make something of ourselves.
These God gifted angels are never worried about anything because they have tasted success and that makes them immune to all of the problems and issues, that the rest of us mere mortals have made our best friends.
And this syndrome is proving to be more and more dangerous with each passing day. According to studies, this syndrome is becoming a fatal enemy to the professional careers of many people all over the world.
Stats show that the people who are affected by this syndrome tend to be quite confused and keep themselves reserved in their working spaces, which results in them getting paid less than their colleagues. They are also the last ones on the list when the manager is looking to promote people.
So, if you are suffering from this horrific syndrome, don’t worry. We have the solution for you.
According to research, scientists dived into the minds of the sufferers of this syndrome, and based on the insights they found there, they suggested 5 simple strategies that can reduce the effect of imposter syndrome in your and you can happily move on with your personal and professional life.
5 Strategies for Getting Rid of Imposter Syndrome
1. Adopt a Healthy Perfectionist Approach
According to a study conducted by a group of Belgian Psychologists that included over 200 test subjects from many different domains like finance, engineering, human resources and bio-tech, found that the feelings and emotions felt by the sufferer of the syndrome are similar to “maladaptive perfectionism”. We know it’s a mouthful but bear with us.
Maladaptive perfectionism is the state where the person is alarmingly upset when they make a mistake in their work and always tends to set higher than average goals for themselves that they can rarely achieve.
Perfectionism is nothing to be afraid of if it is applied in a positive way where it benefits the person. But unfortunately, many people who exhibit perfectionism are doing it negatively and they are the ones who are always fearful of any failure that may or may not envelop them.
They are also fearful of:
- Being criticized by their friends, family, and colleagues
- Making mistakes no matter how small or big their impact is
- Stewing over the mistakes that they have done in the past
- Disappointing people with the actions they perform
If you are suffering from this then you can counter this situation by developing a condition where you perform a healthy perfectionist strategy that enables you to do the best you can and not think about anything “that you might’ve achieved if you worked harder”.
Positive perfectionism is all about doing what’s necessary without the approval of anything but yourself. It allows you to free your mind from all of the worries about any setbacks that you may have or any mistakes that you might’ve done.
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2. Avoid Self-Handicapping and Defensive Pessimism
When a person is suffering from the Imposter syndrome, they are generally prone to two psychological traits which are shame and anxiety. They think that when they perform badly, it is because they are not talented enough or they lack the basic ability to perform a task like that.
When they have suffered constantly, they seek ways to end this torture by adopting either or both of these psychological habits. They are,
Defensive Pessimism: This disorder is when a person fears the worst (being exposed) and tries to avoid it by working more hours or grinding more than anyone else, to cover for their lack of skill and talent.
Self-Handicapping: This is the other one where the person suffering from the syndrome actively tries to lower the bar for performance measuring, by procrastinating till the last second and then starting their work, to make sure that if something bad happens, they’ll have the excuse that they started the project at the very last minute.
These two approaches are critical and often put the sufferer into a lethal spiral in which they can have mixed fleeting feelings about being a defensive pessimist or a self-handicapper, resulting in a debilitating state of mind.
If success ever comes to them, the pessimist will always assume that the hard work that they put into was the factor that got them the success and no time is needed to be invested in learning a skill or ability.
And if success comes to the other one, they would consider it their good luck because they were successful in winning it.
3. Listen to the True Stories of other people
According to research conducted on Imposter Syndrome, all of us feel like we are not worthy and we are just winging everything at every point in our lives. Because for true success, we have to be born exceptional and act like that our whole lives. That is not true.
All of the most exceptional people you see all around you in every walk of life, have been through some difficult times, ups and downs, and many different setbacks that forced them to start and think again for a moment.
But the most impressive thing about them is that they pulled through that phase and made themselves successful without relying on anyone.
And that’s why one of the best antidotes we have to beat the Imposter syndrome is to talk to the people all around and find out all the details about their extraordinary journey from nothing to everything.
That will help you realize that successful people are also human and everyone can be a superhero.
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4. Help Each Other Out
Most of the Imposter Syndrome cases that have been studied over the years had more than a few things in common but the most common traits were anxiety, self-doubt, and low-self esteem above all else.
If you are a manager of a big organization and you need to make sure that all your employees are free from these three psychological disorders, then you need to work and find your best-performing employees that are very successful in their respective areas and convince them to motivate the others.
Most of the people that suffer from this syndrome are very impressed by these high-performing colleagues of theirs because they think that they have been blessed with their gifts and luck since they were born. It’s time to shatter this bubble.
Successful employees need to share their life stories and all of the challenges and hurdles they had to face to be where they are right now.
All of this will help open the eyes of all of the sufferers that have been living under a spell all their lives and they would finally be able to see everything as clear as day, and they will start trusting themselves, their abilities, and their skills.
5. Adopt Counter Measures
Imposter Syndrome has become a major problem for people all over the world. They are suffering in their professional lives by the never-ending harmful effects that this syndrome rains upon them.
For example, the sufferers of the syndrome are less likely to check up on any new job openings in the market or strive to get extra credit that can lead to them getting promoted. Instead, they just focus on the day-to-day work and want to maintain what they have, to the highest limit.
This shows that they are more concerned about holding their current position because they are too afraid to move on to something else that can prove to be beneficial for them in many ways. Why? Because they are afraid that if they went somewhere else, they might get exposed as frauds.
While it is very positive to meet all of the issues and problems that one faces in their life, head-on because they finally feel brave enough to conquer them, it is also important that you find less ominous ways to tackle the issues because more often than not, they can suck you back in their web.
In the case of Imposter syndrome, we will recommend that you find all of the root causes that make you feel a certain way or find the root of the anxiety or any other psychological disorder that has made you suffer from the syndrome, and find countermeasures to tackle it.
These measures can be looking for a new job or looking for errands to do that can boost your chances of getting a promotion.
6. Recognize When You’re Not Being Honest with Yourself
Sometimes when you’re the only one of your gender or race in your working environment, you feel left out because of the feeling that you don’t fit in there and you really should be working where there are more people like you.
That is complete BS. You are a valued member of that community and you should never feel like an outsider.
And if the feeling becomes stronger and you can’t stand the loneliness, you should start reminding yourself that there is nothing like this and you are just experiencing a normal feeling that can happen to anyone.
You should also try to communicate with the people around you and be more familiar with their quirks and habits. This will help you realize that you are just the same as they are and it will help you be more confident in the face of adversity.
7. Don’t follow the Wrong Rules! Right Them
Every person in their personal and professional life lives by a set of rules that govern their daily life. These rules can be amazing self-tracking devices to check your self when you’re feeling that something is not right.
But what if the rules you were following your whole life, were wrong. These wrong rules can be “Never ask anyone for help” or “I have to know everything about everything”.
These are some of the most dangerous rules that you could’ve made for yourself. Always remember that you’re a human and not a robot. You are bound to make some mistakes just like everybody else, and it is not right to shame yourself whenever you don’t know something or make a mistake.
You should learn to ask for help from people and just free your mind so that you can live to fight another day, rather than exhausting your mental faculties and be no good to anyone.