Impostor Syndrome

Imposter Syndrome

The other day a client worriedly told me she “wasn’t the equal” of the other members of a panel she was on for a very large, very prestigious event.   And she asked: am I suffering from Impostor Syndrome. My answer: a resounding YES!!!

Imposter syndrome, by definition “is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a "fraud".”  

So to ensure I’m not being an imposter writing about this …  I googled it. And discovered really cool, really successful people feel the same way … like Tina fey and John Steinbeck … even Maya Angelou … who wrote “I have written eleven books, but each time I think, ‘uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.’ “

Guess what … one study suggests 70% of us experience imposter syndrome at some point in our careers.   

Plus I believe the problem is only getting worse because of Instagram and Facebook – we fall into a trap of comparing ourselves with others.  On face value, it seems they have authentic lives and ours sucks. The truth is usually something far different.

So what do we do when the feeling overwhelms us – that we’ll be “FOUND OUT”?

First: write down your accomplishments.  Lists make you realize what you truly have done.  Your concrete value.

Stop trying to be perfect.  That pressure leads to the syndrome.

Remember compliments:  that reinforcement will bolster confidence.

And take some action --- talk to your mentor or friends, risk doing that panel, conquer your fears.  And believe it or not, smiling helps.

As I told my client … you’ve earned the spot … and never forget -- you know more than the audience-- otherwise they wouldn’t be there and neither would you.  

Plus:  true imposters don’t suffer from the imposter syndrome.   It would never occur to them!