ave you ever felt as if you don’t meet expectations? That everyone else in the room knows what they’re doing and you don’t? That everything you’ve achieved so far has all been down to sheer luck? Then you aren’t alone.
That feeling is called “impostor syndrome” and one US study found that 70 per cent of those surveyed had felt it at some point.
It was Drs Clance and Imes, in 1978, who first put a name to that creeping feeling of self-doubt, calling it the “impostor phenomenon”. They noted it again and again in high-achieving women, clouding their minds, making them believe their success came from something other than their own skill and hard work. Of course, we now know everyone is capable of experiencing it.
Impostor syndrome can be tricky to identify in yourself. It’s a part of you - a deep belief. But a faulty belief. What makes it so hard to undo is that it’s a learned behaviour. It’s our inner saboteur misinterpreting any discomfort we feel as proof of our lack of competence. And that kind of deep-rooted self-doubt can’t be uprooted immediately.
Here are some signs of impostor syndrome to look out for:
- You don’t feel worthy of your success
- You’re worried someone will find out you’re bad at what you do or that you don’t belong
- You find it hard to take compliments and praise
- You think your achievements are down to luck or other external factors.
Fortunately, there will be people around you – your friends and family – who can tell you the truth about your impostor syndrome. They can see your skill and brilliance, and notice when you don’t give yourself enough credit. Your mind has been conditioned to ignore this part of you, and you have to actively want to see yourself differently.