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  • Writer's pictureEmily Del-Grande

Imposter Syndrome- it’s a trick, not a treat

When thinking about a blog that ties in with Halloween, it is not surprising that imposter syndrome came into my thoughts. The Google dictionary definition is:

the persistent inability to believe that one's success is deserved or has been legitimately achieved as a result of one's own efforts or skills.

How scary is that? To succeed, have a skill, do well at something yet internally believe you have failed. It's almost as brazen as seeing a beautiful person who can't see past their ugliness. See a healthy person view themself as obese. See a kind person hate themselves for being so selfish.

It's like something out of a horror film.

But what causes it?

I'm going to introduce you to circus mirrors as one of the ways to explain imposter syndrome.

The longer we view ourselves through a distorted lens, the more likely we are to believe a distorted truth.

You've seen circus mirrors right? You stand in front of them and they make you look like a 7 ft tall bean pole or a 3 ft tall bean bag! But we find it funny and walk away, returning to our former self.

But what would happen if every mirror you ever looked in showed that distorted you.... especially as a child who's frame of reference is smaller? Well, the chances are you would start to believe you looked a bit more like that image than you actually do.

Consider what alters one's view of themself... perhaps parents, friends, social expectations, social media, criticism, bullying, adverse life experiences, toxic workplaces, bad relationships.... the list goes on.

But also....

Ironically, 25-30% of high achievers may suffer from imposter syndrome (source: Psychology Today). It is believe that competitive environments, drawing attention to success and pressure around academic achievements can all create imposter syndrome.

I think I suffer from imposter syndrome, what can I do?

Well, it's all about mindset. Whilst some people may benefit from additional support like therapy to help them through more embedded issues, you can still do things to help yourself.

Acknowledging your successes, embracing them, admitting them, saying them out loud!! It's actually ok to be proud of yourself and you are allowed to say you did well at something... you just need to learn to give yourself permission to do so! Some top tips:

  1. Don't compare yourself to others

  2. Ask yourself 'did I do my best?' And accept the answer!

  3. Celebrate the achievements you can undoubtably claim- an exam score, a positive review meeting at work, a compliment

  4. Share your feelings with a loved one and maybe tell them you're working on yourself and you need them to support with this

  5. If you're worried at work, ask for feedback or request a meeting

  6. Seek external support

  7. Focus on your effort, not outcome

Sometimes, just recognising your doubts and worries stem from imposter syndrome can go a long way in itself.

See it as a narrative, and not as a reflection!

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