The Impostor Syndrome


Impostor syndrome is a psychological occurrence in which an individual doubts their skills, talents, or accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a fraud.

Despite external evidence of their competence, those experiencing this phenomenon do not believe they deserve their success or luck. 

They may incorrectly attribute it to the Matthew Effect, or they may think that they are deceiving others because they feel as if they are not as intelligent as they outwardly portray themselves to be.

Very Well Mind describe it as a risk for happiness saying that the problem with impostor syndrome is that the experience of doing well at something does nothing to change your beliefs. 

Even though you might sail through a performance or have lunch with co-workers, the thought still nags in your head, "What gives me the right to be here?" 

The more you accomplish, the more you just feel like a fraud. It's as though you can't internalize your experiences of success.

Impostor syndrome expert Valerie Young, who is the author of a book on the subject, "The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women", has also found patterns in people who experience impostor feelings:

Some of them are called "perfectionists", that set extremely high expectations for themselves, and even if they meet 99% of their goals, they’re going to feel like failures. Any small mistake will make them question their own competence.

Others are called "experts”, who feel the need to know every piece of information before they start a project and constantly look for new certifications or trainings to improve their skills. They won’t apply for a job if they don’t meet all the criteria in the posting, and they might be hesitant to ask a question in class or speak up in a meeting at work because they’re afraid of looking stupid if they don’t already know the answer.

The "natural genius" has to struggle or work hard to accomplish something, he or she thinks this means they aren’t good enough. They are used to skills coming easily, and when they have to put in effort, their brain tells them that’s proof they’re an impostor.

There are also the "soloists", that feel they have to accomplish tasks on their own, and if they need to ask for help, they think that means they are a failure or a fraud.

And finally the "supermen" or "superwomen", that push themselves to work harder than those around them to prove that they’re not impostors. They feel the need to succeed in all aspects of life and may feel stressed when they are not accomplishing something.

Impostor syndrome can stem from and result in strained personal relationships and can hinder individuals from achieving their full potential in their fields of interest.

Individuals with impostor syndrome often have corresponding mental health issues, which may be treated with psychological interventions, though the phenomenon is not a formal mental disorder.

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