Do you know the feeling of never having really achieved anything or not worthy of success? Behind this is the impostor syndrome. We explain how you can fight against self-doubt.
“It was pure coincidence” and “it all just flew into my head” are thoughts that are characteristic of imposter syndrome.
If people often believe that luck and not their own talent made them successful, then these can be the first symptoms.
Imposter syndrome – a mental illness?
Research into this fear of failure has been going on since 1978, after the American psychologists Pauline Rose Clance and Suzanne Imes gave this phenomenon the English name “Imposter Syndrome”.
As the Oberberg specialist clinics explain, science regards the syndrome as a “cognitive distortion of perception”. This means that it is not a recognized mental illness or disorder, but rather seen as a part of personality.
How does imposter syndrome feel?
Anyone who has the imposter syndrome basically suffers from the fear that people in their personal environment will recognize a subjectively perceived uselessness in their own person.
Sufferers constantly have the feeling that they are betraying their fellow human beings with their talent or their work and will soon be found out as incompetent and incompetent. You find it difficult to accept compliments or to be really happy about success.
That means a lot of mental stress and self-doubt, according to a 2011 study.
More than half of all people are affected at least once
Imposter syndrome can occur in people, especially when they are successful at work or at school. In the International Journal of Behavioral Science, two scientists found that about 70 percent of all people will experience imposter syndrome at least once in their lives.
It can affect both women and men equally, regardless of age. The only difference can be seen in dealing with the fears. While demotivation often occurs in men, affected women tend to exaggerate perfectionism.
These are signs of imposter syndrome
- Unusual perfectionism & high demands on yourself
- Constantly under pressure
- Low self-esteem
- The feeling of being overrated
- Fear of disappointing others
- Fear that fellow human beings will recognize the subjective imposture
Where does imposter syndrome come from?
The exact origin of the syndrome can only be determined individually. According to the Oberberg specialist clinics, some causes can be identified in the childhood of those affected.
Excessive demands from parents, overprotection or difficulties in dealing with tasks can be reasons for fear of failure.
Bullying or trauma in adulthood can also be decisive for the imposter syndrome.
Self-help: Here’s how you can do it
1. Write down what was good
If you keep a list of happy moments, you will realize that you do not only experience negative things in everyday life. Such a list helps to focus attention on positive experiences that have nothing to do with self-doubt or disappointments.
2. Keep a diary.
Not only a list of happy moments, but also a journal entry at the end of the day can help you to shed the feeling of failure and high pressure. Even simple experiences, such as breakfast or doing the laundry, should find a place in your daily review.
Finally, the list of completed things can show you that you have accomplished and experienced more today than it still feels in your head.
A compliment to yourself is also welcome at the end of your entry. Even if it feels weird at first, self-praise has positive effects on your brain after a while.
3. Selfcare moments
When was the last time you took a long shower or even bathed? When was the last time you consciously watched a movie, meditated or cooked your favorite meal in the evening?
These are all small methods of integrating rest and relaxation into your everyday life. If you take a deep breath and do things for yourself, you can process experiences and sort thoughts.
4. Question thoughts
If you manage to listen to yourself and your thoughts in peace, then try to question your negative thoughts. Search for logical connections. Imagining your version of the future can also help to find the right way out of the thought spiral.
A notice: The tricks are not enough? You are never alone. Professional help is also possible with imposter syndrome. Seek advice from a doctor or talk to a psychotherapist.