Many people know the feeling when personal achievements are seen not as a product of their own work, but as a happy coincidence. This is probably why they are afraid to take on new projects at work and change their unloved profession.

About the impostor syndrome

Impostor syndrome – a person’s state of mind, in which the latter does not connect their achievements with their own qualities, talents and efforts. Despite the rather objective evidence of their solvency, people prone to impostor’s syndrome continue to think that they are charlatans and do not deserve the kind of respect from others that they have achieved. Because of their lack of self-confidence, they often see positive results as a good luck, a good coincidence or an illusion that they are smarter and more literate than they really are.

It is difficult for a person who is subject to impostor syndrome to hear compliments and approval. Because of the fear of defeat, such a person often refuses a promising position, an interesting job, commending the incoming offers to the fact that he inadvertently created a disposing first impression on others, and his ignorance over time will be exposed. And in reality, such person can be 100% suitable for the proposed position.

Often the impostor’s syndrome is not pronounced. For example, a person may feel a slight doubt in his or her competence at work. This feeling may also arise in times of crisis. It should be borne in mind that impostor syndrome is not a personality disorder. Rather, it is a metacognitive distortion common to many ordinary people. However, people who are prone to impostor syndrome may find it very difficult to work productively while still being satisfied with their work.

The causes of impostor syndrome

There are several factors that contribute to the development of impostor syndrome. Let’s talk about some of them.

  • Excessive shyness. Of course, no one likes to make mistakes. Afraid to experience shame for possible mistakes, a person with impostor’s syndrome does a kind of trick, mentally devaluing all their achievements. Previously accused of “all mortal sins”, such a person becomes less susceptible to criticism of others.
  • Perfectionism. The endless desire for impeccability in the work of the man leads to doubt in everything he does, including in his own competence.
  • Strict education. It has long been known that many psychological problems originate from childhood. Impostor syndrome can also develop due to the fact that once parents were punishing their child because of every “D” grade or any prank. Growing up, such a person continues to be criticized. However, it is no longer parental, but winding themselves up with their own thoughts. And sometimes, even with the appearance of success, such a person has fairly low self-esteem, resulting in not being able to objectively assess their results.
  • High intelligence. Even the ancient Greek philosopher Socrates said: “I know that I do not know anything”. The fact is that people with poor thinking skills are often unable to critically assess their capabilities, so, as a rule, they are quite confident. Conversely, the more knowledge and experience a person has, the more he realizes his weaknesses. In psychology, this phenomenon is called the “Danning-Kruger effect” in honor of scientists who have put forward a hypothesis about the existence of such a phenomenon.
  • The appropriate environment in the team. Sometimes it is even beneficial for the employer to develop the impostor syndrome in his employees. With the help of endless criticism of the employer, its easy to manipulate employees, forcing them to remain in a constant state of anxiety, underpaying and abusing their free time.
  • A desire to respond to a certain image. In the age of different social networks, many people have two lives: one real life, with its sore spots, imperfections, the second one – for the show, and therefore often more beautiful, lucky and happy. Of course, it is not good to deceive, but without presenting your image in the most favorable light, you cannot keep going.
    This is how we get into an endless race for the ideal, which results in an oppressive feeling of your own imperfection and inconsistency.

The effects of impostor syndrome

Impostor syndrome is often associated with the fact that a person constantly avoids such feelings as shame, embarrassment. And this, in turn, is fraught with the fact that it will certainly lead to a quietly narrowing vicious circle. Uncertainty once, turns into a fulfilled evil prophecy.

It is caused by the fear of a person to demonstrate his ignorance in any way: to ask questions to more experienced employees, to study, to take up leading projects. The behaviour of such a person is often reminiscent of the behaviour of a quiet “C” grader, whose most advantageous position is to remain as discreet as possible.

Such a person avoids professional challenges, not realizing that personal and career development is impossible without it. In such a position, it is difficult to fight for one’s rights, to have uncomfortable conversations with one’s superiors about a better salary, or to claim tempting and responsible tasks. As a result, a person can expect only a sad confirmation that his abilities are actually very insignificant.

There is another extreme. In search of external proof of his abilities, a person with impostor syndrome can constantly learn by collecting a collection of certificates and diplomas. Learning, of course, is great and necessary, but not when learning becomes a means to avoid real-world problems. In addition, such a person spends a lot of money and time just to service his impostor syndrome.

How to fix the situation

Before you start the fight against impostor syndrome, it is worth considering whether in your case this phenomenon is a signal that you do not live your life and do not do what you dreamed of. In this case, you should thank the syndrome and think about changing the field of professional activity. In other cases, check to the following tips:

  1. Deal with the beliefs instilled since childhood, separating someone else’s “voices in the head” from your own. Remember, any criticism once thrown at you is not worth dragging such a dubious assessment into an independent life.
  2. Get out of the “comfort zone”. Speak publicly, do not be afraid to ask for advice from more experienced colleagues (remember that real professionals will never refuse to help or give advice), take on interesting and risky projects. This will help you become a more professional and experienced employee. In addition, over time you will be happy to discover that nothing terrible has happened.
  3. Praise yourself for your diligence, and even minor victories, while eradicating the habit of depriving them of their importance.
  4. Sketch out a list of your achievements sometime at leisure. Try to compare yourself not with others, but with yourself yesterday.
  5. Clearly define the boundaries of your competence. Sometimes it seems that real professionalism is to know and be able to do everything in your field. But this is not the case. A true professional periodically refuses to do something, understanding that the proposed task is beyond his competence.
  6. Allow yourself to make a mistake. Remember that if you are facing an unusual problem, it is quite natural to have no idea what to do with it. Try different ways and approaches, work on your mistakes. Remember, today’s world requires flexibility and elasticity.

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