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Are You Suffering From Work Related Imposter Syndrome?

Joanna Clare

Imposter Syndrome? What is that?! Well, like any other syndrome, (which is described as a group of symptoms occurring consistently together or a condition which is characterised by a set of associated symptoms), imposter syndrome - strange as it may sound- is very real indeed.

Imposter syndrome is a recognised psychological phenomenon and is defined as an inability to have the belief that your own success is deserved or legitimately achieved as a result of your own efforts or skills. You are, in essence, unable to accept your accomplishments.

Many people who are perceived as successful, high flying and talented individuals have a deep overwhelming feeling that they are simply not good enough and are not clever, able or qualified enough to fulfil their role. They feel so inadequate and counterfeit that they constantly question their own gifts and abilities and therefore live in fear of being ‘found out’ by others.This, of course, can cause a continual feeling of heightened anxiety and mental exhaustion which as we all know, has the capacity to make you both mentally and physically unwell.

A considerable amount of research has gone into imposter syndrome and it appears to affect both men and women equally and up to 75% of people feel that they do their job badly at times with up to a fifth having these feelings on a daily basis. This does not mean that they are not doing their job well, but it is more about their perception of themselves.

People with imposter syndrome will often believe that others are more talented and worthy of the job that they have and will ‘down play’ any praise or positive reinforcements due to feeling intimidated. They will try not to draw attention to themselves, preferring to blend into the background and will try not to become vocal within the working environment especially when it comes to public speaking or indeed even having to address colleagues in an authoritarian situation which may arise from time to time.

Even very well known and famous people - musicians, artists, actors, scientists, authors - suffer from the fear of being found out that they are not good at what they are perceived to be good at and that at any time, they will be discovered to be ‘an imposter’. It happens in all walks of life, whatever your job or role is.

In order to overcome imposter syndrome, it is important to firstly be aware that it is a very real thing and that you are not alone in your feelings. Accept your feelings as your own but also accept that any feelings of inadequacy are unrelated to whether or not you deserve the job or are good at your job. Every person you meet has some feeling or insecurity or inadequacy about themselves but it is how we internalise and process these feelings.

Accept that everyone is allowed to make mistakes and question their own decisions at times. Each time you have a negative thought or lack confidence in yourself, replace it with a positive one and give yourself simple positive mantras to repeat such as ‘ I am good at my job’ or ‘ I deserve my own success’ and then celebrate that success.Permit yourself to feel proud of your achievements and your successes and strive to do your job to the best of your ability. Be compassionate to yourself and let go of the idea of perfectionism. Whatever your role is, never be afraid to seek help, positive feedback or reassurance from the people around you.

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