You might have imposter syndrome if you constantly feel like a fraud, even in situations where you usually do well. 1 Imposter syndrome can make you feel restless and nervous, and you might talk badly to yourself. Imposter syndrome is often accompanied by signs of anxiety and depression.
Imposter syndrome is not a mental illness that can be diagnosed. Instead, the word is usually only used to talk about intelligence and success, but it can also be used to talk about perfectionism and the social setting. In the 1970s, psychologists Suzanna Imes and Pauline Rose Clance were the first ones to use this term.
Here, we talk about the warning signs of imposter syndrome and some of the things that make it more likely to happen. We also talk about the different kinds of imposter syndrome and how to deal with the feelings it can cause.
Types of Imposter Syndrome
There are five basic types of imposter syndrome:
The Perfectionist: This type of imposter syndrome is when you feel like you could have done better unless you were perfect. You feel like a fake because your desire to be perfect makes you think you aren’t as good as other people might think you are.
The Expert: The expert feels like a fraud because they don’t know everything there is to know about a certain subject or topic, or they haven’t mastered every step in a process. They don’t feel like “experts” because they still feel like they have a lot to learn.
The Natural Genius: In this type of imposter syndrome, you might feel like a fake because you don’t think you are naturally smart or skilled. If you don’t get something right the first time or it takes you longer to learn a skill, you feel like a fake.
The Soloist: You might also feel like a fake if you needed help to get to a certain level or status. Since you couldn’t get there on your own, you’re not sure how good you are or what you can do.
The Superperson: This type of imposter syndrome is when you feel like a fraud if you don’t work the hardest or reach the highest levels of success possible.
Imposter Syndrome has these Traits:
Common imposter syndrome characteristics include:
- Inability to evaluate your skills and abilities in a realistic way
- putting the credit for your success on outside factors
- criticizing your performance
- Worry that you won’t meet people’s expectations
- destroying your own success
- Setting very difficult goals and being disappointed when you don’t reach them
Impact of Imposter Syndrome
Some people are more motivated to succeed when they have impostor syndrome, but this usually comes at the cost of feeling anxious all the time. You might over-prepare or work much harder than necessary, for example, to “make sure” that no one figures out you are a fraud. Eventually, anxiety gets worse and could lead to depression.
This makes you think that the only reason you passed that class presentation was that you stayed up all night practicing. Or you think that the only way you made it through that party or family gathering was because you remembered details about everyone there so you would always have small talk topics.
The problem with imposter syndrome is that doing well at something doesn’t change your beliefs. You keep asking yourself, “What gives me the right to be here?” and the more you do, the more you feel like a fraud. It’s like you can’t learn from your successes.
This makes sense if you got early feedback that you weren’t good in social or performance situations. Your core beliefs about yourself are so strong that they don’t change, even if there is evidence to the contrary. The way people think is that if you do well, it must be because of luck.
Causes of Imposter Syndrome
In the earliest studies, researchers found that imposter syndrome was linked to things like how families worked when people were young and ideas about how men and women should act.
But later research has shown that this happens to people of all ages, backgrounds, and genders.
Questions to Know if you Suffer from Imposter Syndrome
If you think you’re a fraud, you might want to think about the following ten questions. If the majority of your answers are yes, you might want to think about what your real skills are and stop comparing yourself to others. Remember that there is no such thing as perfection.
- Do you try to stay away from what other people think of you? Do you worry that you won’t be able to handle them if they come?
- When people praise you, do you worry that you won’t live up to their expectations?
- Usually, do you think your success at work is due to luck?
- Do you tend to think a lot about the mistakes you’ve made at work and not much about the good things?
- Do you often compare yourself to other people, and do you think that you usually come out worse?
- Do you find it hard to do nothing or not work? Do you think that doing nothing is the same as wasting time?
- Is it hard for you to ask for help? You don’t work well with others, do you?
- Even though a lot of the people around you like what you do, do you think you can do much better?
- Does taking on leadership roles in your work projects make you nervous?
- Do you work more hours than most of the people you work with?
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