Mental Health Check: Do You Suffer From Impostor Syndrome? Here Are A Few Tips To Defeat It
Feeling incompetent from time to time isn't so bad if it's used as a way to humble ourselves and make room for improvement. But if it starts to appear as a recurring thought, a little self-check must be made; you might be suffering from Impostor Syndrome.
For starters, Impostor Syndrome refers to an internal experience where a person downgrades him or herself repeatedly. The term was first used by psychologists Suzanna Imes and Pauline Rose Clance in the 1970s.
More often than not, people with Impostor Syndrome possess the following characteristics:
- He, she, or they agonise over the smallest mistakes or flaws in work
- Attribute their success to luck or outside factors
- Very sensitive to criticism.
- Afraid that they will inevitably be found out as a phoney
- Downplay their own expertise, even in areas where they are genuinely more skilled than others.
Research by the Journal of General Internal Medicine said that about 82 per cent of people reported that they felt the Impostor Mentality at some point in their lives. This syndrome is particularly common among minority groups and women.
Read more: How to cope with mental health problems
Fresh out of college, I quickly landed a job as a news reporter in a major daily; something I didn’t think I deserved. The nature of the industry is unforgiving. It had no room for mistakes, no time for siestas, and there was no refuge for the timid.
The competition was thrilling but it was so tough that when a boss or a colleague complimented me, my default response was to crumble. My mind constantly played phrases such as “I just got lucky,” “they did not mean that,” and “ I don’t deserve it” so much that I nearly made statement shirts out of them.
Now, I would be lying if I said that I have finally mustered the courage to shrug my insecurities off. I have not [entirely] moved on from this mentality, but I am slowly learning how important it is to surround myself with individuals who value mistakes and progress as much as success and achievements.
Here are ways to cope with Impostor Syndrome according to mental health professionals:
Acknowledge small things: If you think you have not done something good today, that may be your Impostor Syndrome talking. You woke up early, greeted a friend, spent an extra minute at work; these things are good too. “People who don’t feel like impostors are no more intelligent or competent or capable than the rest of us,” Valerie Young, an Impostor expert said. “It’s very good news because it means we just have to learn to think like non-impostors.”
Separate facts and feelings: Are you really bad at doing things, or is that what you programmed your mind to think all the time? According to psychologist Audrey Ervin, Impostor Syndrome is a "self-perpetuating cycle".
"People often internalize these ideas: that in order to be loved or be lovable, ‘I need to achieve,’” the expert shared.
Consider seeking professional help: While Impostor Syndrome is not considered a mental disorder, this mentality might be linked to other conditions like anxiety and depression. Make sure you consider coming to a mental health professional but only do so if you’re emotionally, financially, and physically ready.
Don’t force yourself: If you think you have Impostor Syndrome, do not force yourself to feel okay. Emotions can be overwhelming at times, and it is important to process them well. Healing is not linear. Some days will really be bad, do not beat yourself up.
More from Tatler: 5 Mental Health Apps To Incorporate Into Your Lifestyle