Mental illnesses can cause people of all ages to experience thoughts of inadequacy, sadness, or loneliness. Imposter syndrome can limit those who experience it from reaching their full potential and may cause their job performance or daily function to deteriorate. People who feel like an imposter may believe that their presence isn’t needed, or that they should abandon their current career path. Below is some more information about imposter syndrome, symptoms you may experience, and ways to overcome these feelings.
What Is Imposter Syndrome?
The feeling of being less than is common among other mental illnesses, but imposter syndrome typically revolves more around thinking you don’t deserve to be where you are, or that those around you know everything, and you are lost. Those who struggle with imposter syndrome often feel like they are a fraud which keeps them from achieving their full potential.
Some other common symptoms that accompany this imposter persona include:
- Crediting other things like luck for their success
- Fear of being seen as a failure
- Thinking overworking is the only way to meet expectations
- Downplay accomplishments
- Low self-confidence
- Holding back from going after opportunities or goals
- Feeling unworthy of attention
- Trouble making decisions (about children, projects, or large purchases)
- Avoid sharing opinions with others
- Refusing affection or saying they don’t deserve it
Who Can Experience Imposter Syndrome?
It has been estimated that 7 in 10 adults experience imposter syndrome symptoms at one point or another. Feelings of inadequacy can occur in many people, but continuing feelings can be a sign of a larger issue.
Some studies have shown that imposter syndrome often occurs in those who are hard workers, who have high-paying jobs, or who deserve attention. Doctors, lawyers, parents, service members, and more are often people who experience feelings of unworthiness. Women and men can both struggle with imposter syndrome. It is most common in adults, but it is not uncommon for teenagers to experience it as well.
Ways To Cope And Limit Imposter Syndrome
When feelings of inadequacy are filling your brain, it can be hard to find hope or see your good works. Coping with imposter syndrome is possible when done the right way. Cognitive training and therapy can be helpful in improving how you see yourself.
Separate Feelings From Fact
More often than not, feelings of imposter syndrome are not factual. Just because you think these things, or read into interactions with others as being negative, doesn’t mean that this reflects your actual competence. Understanding that these are just feelings will help remind you that you are capable of doing whatever you set your mind to, as well as learning from your mistakes.
Don’t Compare Yourself To Others
You have probably heard the saying “comparison is the thief of joy.” This means that looking at the achievements or possessions of others and comparing yourself to them can make you feel inadequate. Comparison creates unrealistic expectations and can actually lead you to make unnecessary mistakes.
The contributions that you bring to your unique situation are valuable. Whether you are experiencing imposter syndrome at work or at home, your skills and knowledge are appreciated. Looking at what others are doing will not be helpful in making you a better person.
Make Note Of Your Accomplishments
While learning from your mistakes can be beneficial, listing your accomplishments can also be helpful when overcoming imposter syndrome. Save emails from your boss that point out your excellent work in a special folder, hang drawings or cards from your kids on the fridge, or write down ways you have served others this year.
Reframe Your Mindset Around Growth
Making a mistake can be a little embarrassing, but mistakes and learning experiences can help us become better people. Life is a journey and many experiences are chances to learn from. Feeling like a fraud means that you are more aware of how your actions impact others. Learning from moments of weakness will help strengthen your resolve for the future.
Speak To A Therapist
Imposter syndrome and other mental illnesses can become debilitating. When it starts to impact your daily performance or you start to lose interest in hobbies, it is time to speak with a therapist. Working with a therapist can help change your mindset around your accomplishments and give an outside perspective on how your contributions matter.
Our therapists at Ogden Psychological Services are happy to work with patients of any background or who are struggling with any issues. We use evidence-based approaches to help patients reframe their thinking and meet their personal goals.