Impostor Syndrome: When Your Wins Trigger Self-Doubt & Destroy Your Emotional Well-Being!

We all have those moments in our lives where we doubt our abilities, and that’s perfectly human. But how do you deal with a situation where you not only doubt your abilities but also question the credibility of your achievements? What do you do when you believe yourself undeserving of all the success that you have achieved? How to deal with this belief that you are nothing but a “fraud”?

This kind of thought process, that wreaks havoc on your emotional well-being and mental peace, is a trait of what we call as the Impostor Syndrome!   

What is Impostor Syndrome?

Wikipedia defines the Impostor Syndrome as a psychological phenomenon in which “an individual doubts his skills, talents, and accomplishments and has an internalized fear of being exposed as a fraud”.

Individuals with Impostor Syndrome often credit their success to luck or deduce their achievements as a result of deceiving others into believing that they are more competent and intelligent than they perceive themselves to be.

Is Impostor Syndrome A Mental Illness?

No, it is not a mental disorder but it can definitely damage your self-confidence. Ironically, it is noticed that people who fall prey to this condition are often highly skilled, intelligent, competent, and well-deserving of their achievements.

Who Is Affected By Impostor Syndrome The Most?

It was noticed in early research that high-achieving women were affected the most. The reason could be how our judgmental society often credits a woman’s success to her gender and not her competencies. However, Impostor syndrome affects both men and women.

What triggers Impostor Syndrome?

Usually any new transition or new accomplishment can trigger this feeling of being unworthy of your achievements in your life. They can be any of the following 

  1. New Career
  2. New Job
  3. Job Promotions
  4. Salary Hike, etc.

However, another situation that can trigger this phenomenon came to the fore recently. With the COVID-19 pandemic forcing us to work remotely, resulting in a drastic fall in day-to-day interaction with the managers and peers, the impostorism has seen a surge among the professionals.       

How To Identify If You Have The Impostor Syndrome?

Not every individual has the same trait that can be related to the impostorism, also known as the fraud syndrome. Check if you are one the following and how rooted your internal belief is against the external validation. 

  • I Must Be Perfect: We all strive to be our best selves. However, even the best of the people is allowed some down moments. If you have this internal belief that every task that you do must always be 100%, else you are unworthy of the accolades that you receive for your competency.
  • I Must Be An Expert: You can be a jack of all trades, but if you think you have to the master of all trades, you are being extremely harsh on yourself. You can’t be an expert of everything. Accept that and keep learning. No person can know and do all aspects of a trade, unassisted.
  • I Must Be Smart Enough To Do It All: If you believe that your competence is directly proportional to your success, you might be victim of the fraud syndrome. If one person could have done all the tasks, there would never have been the concept of ‘team work’. Understand, respect and imbibe this.
  • I Must Be An All-rounder: In cricket we have all-rounders, who can bat and bowl like experts. Even then, is the all-rounder able to win every game with either bat or ball or both? No! Do not put unnecessary pressure on yourself of delivering every task easily and quickly!

How To Cope With Impostor Syndrome?

  • Identify the signs: If you have any of the signs mentioned above, put in efforts to stop scrutinizing yourself.
  • Don’t be harsh on yourself: Understand you are human and you are allowed to falter, learn and rise above. Do not beat yourself for mistakes. 
  • Know you are not alone: There are over 7 billion people on this planet at this very moment, so no situation or condition can be exclusive. There are people out there who suffer from similar conditions and thought processes.
  • Talk to your manager & peers: If you have doubt about your talent, success, or achievements, talk to your managers, mentors, or peers and take their feedback on your performance. It has become more important than ever to make these conversations, given we are all working in isolation and do not get immediate validation of our work.
  • Distinguish feelings from facts: If you feel like a fraud, validate those feelings with actual facts. Analyze why did you get that promotion or that salary hike, what was the conversation you had with your manager, etc.
  • Explore new opportunities: If you feel that you aren’t competent or that you are fooling the world with your talent and intelligence, try to counter these feelings by taking up new opportunities and challenges.
  • Write your achievements: When you doubt your talent and worthiness, list down your accomplishments and successes, how did you achieve them.
  • Don’t be afraid of failures: It’s been noticed that often this Impostorism is triggered due to our fear of failures. Understand failures are nothing stepping stones to success. Allow yourself to fail and learn. Even the most successful people in the world fail, whether they are the biggest movie stars, entrepreneurs, sportspersons, scientists, or political leaders. Nobody reached their pinnacles without failing and even when they reach at the top, they still falter. That’s how nature maintains the balance. 
  • Understand the distinction between humility & fear: Being humble about your accomplishments is awesome. But do not replace that humility with fear. Do not be scared of your winning feats. They came to you because of your talent, hard work, and competence. 

Don’t forget you deserve every bit of your accomplishments. Don’t let your victories cast a doubt on your abilities and destroy your emotional wellness. If you still have doubts or struggles to break away from these feelings, reach out to JustBaat experts.