Imposter syndrome

Coaching Blog-Imposter syndrom

You work hard to get recognized. You have the constant feeling that you are not getting things done well enough. As if you are missing something inside. As if you aren't good enough.

Instead of enjoying life in your free time, you sit in front of the computer, looking for more e-books or training. You have the constant feeling that others know more than you, that you are constantly missing out on something.

Or maybe you always have to do some work first to give yourself the right to rest. Or you will not rest until you have completed your assigned task. Sometimes even at the cost of sleeping or declining an invitation to meet friends.

Moreover, maybe even if you achieve success, even if you are praised by others, you don't really enjoy it. You yourself are not convinced that what you have done has been appreciated, and some vague voice inside whispers to you that you need to be vigilant.

If so, you may have what psychologists called the imposter syndrome in 1978. It is a psychological phenomenon that causes a lack of self-confidence in one's own achievements. Despite external evidence of their own competence, those suffering from this syndrome remain convinced that they are scammers and do not deserve the success they have achieved. They see the causes of success in happiness, favorable circumstances, or as a result of being perceived as more intelligent and competent than they really are.

I do not know if you are aware that in today's busy times Imposter Syndrome affects about 70% of the world's population (1). And it does not matter if you work in a corporation, office, run your own business, or play sports professionally. Social status, gender, and wallet content do not matter. Maybe you will also be comforted by the news that such "giants" as Albert Einstein, Maya Angelou, Agatha Christie, or Michelle Obama were struggling with this syndrome.

Michelle talks about it openly in one of her interviews:

Typically, the causes of the impostor syndrome are complex and related to childhood. They are often associated with excessive perfectionism, entrenched low self-esteem, or tendencies towards self-observation. Undoubtedly, the source is also the pace of life in today's world and the constant pressure that is exerted on us. You have to, you have to, you have to ... Or: if you don't do something, buy it, don't learn, you will lose, you will lose, you will lose ...

Is there anything you can do about it?

YES! The first thing you need to do is realize that the problem exists, name it, and admit that it may be you. Then it will be much easier to focus on the solution and move on.

But how to do it?

In short, I would say this: start thinking about yourself and behaving towards yourself as you do towards your best friend. Become your best friend!

First of all, be less strict with yourself and more understanding and supportive (isn't that what you do with your friend?). Start practicing appreciating yourself. Not only in thoughts, but in deeds. For example, as a recognition, give yourself some pleasure on a regular basis.

Also start the process of limiting yourself from comparing yourself with other people. You are one of a kind. There is no such second person in the world. Among over 7 billion, NO! It's a miracle!

Perhaps this metaphor will appeal to you:

The flower does not compete with the flower growing next to it. It just blooms!

Or maybe a saying like this will help you change your perspective:

Everyone is ignorant. Just everyone in a different field. Even a genius.

Instead of constantly looking for flaws and imperfections, turn to a professional and ask for an objective assessment of your competencies. It may quickly turn out that all the positive opinions and kind words you have heard so far were not (as you thought) exaggerated.

For one week, observe yourself and see if by any chance you are expecting more from yourself than the outside world (such observation should not be difficult for you - after all, you are constantly monitoring and evaluating yourself, right?)

For the next week, DON'T do something, don't finish a task, and see if anything terrible has happened ?! And maybe experiencing such a situation (which you avoid so much) will bring you invaluable reflection. Your reflection.

Next week, introduce the "Ritual of Gratitude". Each day before going to sleep, sum up all the things that went well. And be thankful for them. Including the smile of a stranger passing by on the street. Start practicing this awareness on a daily basis.

And if, after 3 weeks, you do a retrospective, comparing your starting state with the state you are in and find that little has changed, I recommend the book:

Yes! You Are Good Enough: End Imposter Syndrome, Overthinking and Perfectionism and Do What YOU Want

And if this does not help - contact a professional, e.g. a coach. Her/his understanding, non-judgmental approach, but also wise assistance in this change can bring a long-lasting effect for you.

(1) Harvey and Katz, If I’m So Successful, Why Do I Feel like a Fake? The Impostor Phenomenon, s. 3 [za:] Melanie Clark, Kimberly Vardeman, and Shelley Barba, Perceived Inadequacy: A Study of the Imposter Phenomenon among College and Research Librarians, „College & Research Libraries”, Vol 75, No 3, 2014.

See also:

Loneliness Coaching. How do you feel about yourself?

Assertiveness coaching

Causality Coaching. How often do you have to and how often do you choose?

What are you hiding in your nooks and crannies?

Endurance Coaching. How much can you take?

Mindfulness Coaching. And seagull named Jonathan

Why do we need Life Values? - ep. 1