Impostor Syndrome goes by other names, such as impostorism and impostor phenomenon. In simple terms, this explains Impostor Syndrome: “I feel everyone is achieving so much and is aware of where they are headed, but I feel lost and deserving all the time”.
The term was introduced in 1978 by Pauline R. Flame and Susan A. Imes, who published an article titled “The Impostor Phenomenon in High-Achieving Women: Dynamics and Therapeutic Intervention”.
They define the phenomenon as “an internal experience of intellectual phoniness”. Their initial research was focused on high-achieving women in education and professional industries.
Presently, men, women, and young adults, including children, experience it.
Types Of Impostor Syndrome
There are five basic types of this phenomenon, based on an expert in impostor phenomena, Dr. Valerie Young.
- The Perfectionist: This form of imposter syndrome revolves around the belief that unless you achieved absolute perfection, you could have performed better. One experiences feelings of being an imposter because their perfectionistic tendencies lead them to doubt their competence as others perceive it.
- The Soloist: Feeling like an imposter can also occur when one has to seek assistance to attain a particular level or status. One may question their competence or abilities because they could not reach that point independently.
- The Expert: Imposter syndrome can affect even experts who believe they haven’t mastered every aspect of a subject or process. Their self-doubt stems from the notion that they do not know everything there is to know or have not achieved a comprehensive understanding, which makes them feel like they have not truly earned the title of “expert.”
- The Superperson: This form of imposter syndrome revolves around the belief that one must consistently be the most diligent and attain the absolute highest levels of achievement. If they fall short of these standards, they may feel fraudulent.
- The Natural Genius: Imposter syndrome of this type can make one feel like a fraud due to a lack of belief in their innate intelligence or competence. If they struggle to grasp something immediately or take too long to master a skill, they feel like impostors.
Symptoms Of Impostor Syndrome
Imposter syndrome often manifests in various ways, including:
- attributing success to luck or external factors.
- a deep fear of being perceived as a failure.
- believing that overworking is the sole means of meeting expectations.
- feeling undeserving of attention or affection.
- minimizing personal achievements.
- holding back from pursuing achievable goals.
These patterns of thinking and behavior can contribute to feelings of being an imposter.
Where can Impostor Syndrome manifest?
- At Work.
- At School.
- At Home.
- Within relationships.
Feelings of self-doubt, often associated with imposter syndrome, can give rise to significant fear, anxiety, and stress. Research indicates that imposter syndrome is linked to decreased job performance and job satisfaction, with an increased risk of burnout. Additionally, it has been associated with heightened levels of anxiety and depression, underscoring the real impact it can have on one’s well-being and professional life.
How To Overcome Impostor Syndrome
The first step is recognizing one’s potential and accepting their achievements.
- Separate feelings from facts. Challenge your negative thoughts with the success you have achieved.
- Share your feelings with trusted people who can give honest feedback.
- Document your accomplishments and celebrate them.
- Quit comparing yourself to others. Everyone has their own unique abilities. Focus on your personal strengths and weaknesses, and learn from them.
- Cultivate self-compassion.
- Refrain from negative self-talk.
- Practice emotional vulnerability by asking for help and developing emotional intelligence by expressing yourself to supportive peers.
- Keep a gratitude journal.
- Rid yourself of perfectionism: start small and stay consistent.
- Be and remain assertive.
- Clarify your priorities.
- Talk to a professional.
Finally, impostor syndrome is a psychological phenomenon. But its effects are physical. Some of its causes include parenting styles, trauma, a fixed mindset, hypervigilance, and rumination. But once you discover any of the symptoms, it’s pertinent that you seek help.