Stop Telling Women They Have Imposter Syndrome
Women, particularly high-achievers, are believed to doubt their skills and see themselves as incapable and incompetent. Are women prone to a persistent feeling of discomfort and self-doubt in the workplace and in life? Why is this attitude problematic, and why do we need to stop telling women imposter syndrome?
What is Imposter Syndrome?
Imposter syndrome is a thinking pattern in which we doubt our skills, capacities, and achievements, believing that our success is due to external factors like good luck or timing.
Those who struggle with imposter syndrome experience persistent thoughts and feelings of faultiness and incompetence. They tend to believe that they are not as skilled or talented as other people see them be.
This conflict between the way others perceive them and their self-perception causes individuals to doubt themselves and feel guilty over “tricking” people.
Therefore, imposter syndrome can adversely affect your performance, mental health, relationships, and well-being.
The term “imposter syndrome” first appeared in 1978 in two psychologists, Suzanna Imes and Pauline Rose Clance. They used it (initially calling it “imposter phenomenon”) to describe the internal conflicts in high-achieving women.
However, today we know that imposter syndrome is a universal human experience. Namely, psychologists believe that approximately 70 percent of people will experience imposter syndrome at some point in their lives.
Symptoms of Imposter Syndrome
“I don’t belong here, I am not good enough, I was just lucky. I don’t deserve this credit. Sooner or later, everyone is going to discover that I am a fraud.”
Does your mind habitually flood such and similar thoughts?
People with imposter syndrome tend to understate their abilities, knowledge, and intelligence. They often feel like they don’t belong where they are, or they don’t deserve recognition for their accomplishments. As a result, they usually set unreasonably high goals, battering themselves for every mistake.
Here are the most common signs of imposter syndrome:
- Persistent self-doubt and self-criticism
- A lack of confidence in ones own abilities
- Sensitivity to criticism
- Feeling like a fraud and fear that others will find them out as a phony
- Accrediting your achievement to luck, fluke, or other external factors
- A tendency to minimize own success
- Feeling incredibly disappointed after making a mistake
- Looking for external validation from others
Why We Need to Stop Telling Women They Have Imposter Syndrome
Self-defeating beliefs stem from a woman’s inability to internalize success and attribute it to their knowledge, skills, or competence. As a result, even when they perform on a high level, some women have difficulty attributing their success to expertise and qualifications because their beliefs about their own incompetence are so deep-rooted.
Such beliefs often lead to anxiety, low self-esteem, and depression.
Anxiety typically stems from our negative self-perceptions and false beliefs about ourselves. Persistent self-doubt and negative thoughts about your skills and knowledge may lead to social anxiety because you often feel inadequate and not belonging in social situations.
You may fear that people will discover your fraudulence and social incompetence because you perceive yourself as incapable and incompetent.
Imposter syndrome results from a combination of factors that include a person’s upbringing, specific personality traits such as perfectionism and low confidence, existing mental health issues, and culture.
In many cases, imposter syndrome originates from an upbringing by rigid and controlling or overprotective parents who valued achievement above everything else.
For example, messages you received in childhood that you were not good enough can trigger imposter feelings. In addition, these internalized beliefs of own incompetency can cause you to believe that you are not good at social situations, causing social anxiety.
Also, social pressures in western cultures to compete, accomplish, and be successful can cause imposter syndrome.
How Bias Plays a Role in Diagnosing Imposter Syndrome?
Another significant factor that contributes to imposter feelings in females is a bias toward gender roles and race.
Studies show that, while everyone can experience imposter syndrome, these feelings are more present in women and people of color.
Being aware of these stereotypes and prejudices can adversely affect your mood, self-esteem, and performance, causing you to doubt your doubt yourself.
How to Overcome Imposter Syndrome
Beliefs that are at the core of imposter syndrome usually don’t motivate people to perform better. Instead, these thoughts turn a healthy nervousness (“Wil I perform well?”) into anxiety, depression, self-esteem issues, and self-loathing.
Namely, to counter the feelings of inadequacy and falseness, people set higher standards and work harder to meet them. But unfortunately, this pressure eventually takes its toll on one’s mental health, self-esteem, performance, and overall well-being.
Below are some strategies to help you challenge your self-doubt and manage this mindset.
Overcoming Imposter Syndrome at Work
Stop Comparing Yourself with Others
Instead of comparing yourself with your colleagues, try comparing your old self and yourself now – focus on your development and growth and the things you need to learn to improve and boost confidence.
Focus on Your Strengths
Try focusing on self-reflection and identifying your biggest strengths. Analyze your previous work successes and failures and learn from your mistakes. You may decide to start practicing mindfulness or hire a personal life coach to boost awareness of your strong points and how to use them to boost work success.
Overcoming Imposter Syndrome in Relationships
Don’t be Afraid to Openly and Communicate Your Needs
Start practicing affirmations and self-compassion, as this will allow you to express your needs and feelings more assertively.
Positive statements about yourself and self-compassion can help reframe your thoughts, so instead of thinking, “I am not lovable enough,” you say to yourself, “I deserve love like anyone else, and my insecurity doesn’t change that.”
Open up about how you feel to your partner, family member, or friend, and ask for their support in overcoming imposter feelings.
Challenge and Reframe Your Thoughts
Whenever you think how unlovable or unworthy you are, try to observe such negative thoughts about emotionally reacting to them mindfully.
When you mindfully detect self-demeaning thoughts, ask yourself how accurate are such thoughts, is there anything that proves them, and whether they help or hold you back. This will allow for self-compassion and improve your self-esteem.
Are you ready to move beyond imposter syndrome? Schedule a time to speak to learn how coaching can assist in moving you forward. www.chatwithkamini.com