Imposter syndrome is an internal experience that forces us to believe that we are not so competent as others perceive us to be. This definition is usually applied to intelligence and achievement but it is also linked to perfectionism and social context.
Imposter syndrome makes us feel like a fraud. It constantly makes us feel as though we’ll be found as fake. We start thinking that we don’t belong where we are and have got there through sheer luck. It affects people irrespective of their social status, work background, skill level or expertise degree.
This term was introduced by the psychologists Suzanna Imes and Pauline Rose Clance in the 1970s. Initially, it was applied to only high-achieving women but was later recognised as being more widely experienced. About 70 per cent of the people experience this condition at least once in their lives. Here are 5 reasons why we need to shut it down right now.
1. Causes anxiety
Imposter syndrome can initiate feelings of motivation to achieve in people but it is often in the form of constant anxiety. They start over preparing and work harder than required to “ensure” that nobody finds out their “fraudulence”. This sets up a vicious cycle in which they begin to doubt themselves and their capabilities. If they do well in a class presentation, they feel it is only because they stayed up all night preparing for it. Similarly, if they get through a party or family gathering, they justify it by making themselves believe that it was because they memorised the details about the guests to have conversations.
2. You suffer from under confidence (for no reason)
Even the experience of excelling at work doesn’t seem to change the feelings of the person suffering from imposter syndrome. They might perform well at their work but keep thinking if they truly deserve to be where they are. The more they achieve, the more they feel like a fraud. It becomes difficult for them to internalise their success
. No matter how much they improve at work, their mind still believes in the criticism they received way back in time.
3. Affects mental health
People suffering from imposter syndrome begin to believe that they are socially incompetent and think that it is due to luck factor that they are excelling in their respective fields of work. Such feelings worsen their anxiety and slowly causes depression. They do not talk about their feelings with anyone and keep on struggling in silence. This creates stress, anxiety and isolation, which are more relevant in the present times.
4. Obstructs career growth
If you are suffering from imposter syndrome, you begin to agonise over even the smallest mistakes or flaws in your work. You become very sensitive to constructive criticism and think that sooner or later, you will be found out as a phoney. This mental health condition also makes you underestimate yourself in the areas where you are actually more skilled than others. You reject praise, downplay your achievements and permit others to take the acclaim. The sufferers do not expect or ask for a promotion or increase in payment. They also don’t push themselves forward at their work.
5. Leadership and management qualities get hampered
The victims feel vulnerable and there is a constant fear of “being exposed”. This makes it tough for them to take difficult decisions. Therefore, it becomes difficult for them to display strong leadership and management skills. They also fear taking risks because they are afraid they will fail. It also restricts their ability to create or invent something new.