Imposter syndrome is something we’ve probably all experienced at some point in our lives. A 2011 study indicated it has affected as many as 70 per cent of us. For anyone that has achieved a level of success that came to them unexpectedly, it can often be accompanied by the lingering thought that sooner or later you’re going to get found out. You fear that you’re going to be exposed as inept or a fraud and really, all your achievements were actually down to luck rather than any real skill you possess.
The real crux of imposter syndrome is of a core belief that you’re somehow not good enough or worthy of the success that comes your way no matter how hard you’ve worked. It is an issue or low self-esteem all else. Since there is an absence of worth, you find a way to try and endlessly invalidate your success, which is often the result of the influence of your social circle and guardians during your formative years.
Here are some of the most common thought processes that indicate you might be exhibiting signs of imposter syndrome:
“I’m a fraud, and any moment now people are going to figure me out…”
This is probably the most common… Someone in this mindset feels like they’re always on the brink of committing a massive professional blunder that is going to unmask them. It creates enormous amounts of anxiety and stress from the fear of being found out. It’s a constant that never goes away.
“I had no idea what I was doing during any of what I did…”
Some people like to downplay their abilities and will debase themselves by saying they had no idea what they’re doing. But the fact is many people aren’t consciously aware of why they’re following a certain action, but are merely allowing themselves to be guided by their intuition, and that’s fine.
“I couldn’t have done it without all the help I received…”
This occurs when someone has been working in a team, but has been singled out for individual praise or an outstanding contribution. They’ll quickly attribute success to the group effort, but this is rarely out of genuine humbleness, but more of an inability to accept praise for their own efforts.
“Anyone could have done this…”
Achievements are often devalued with the suggestion that anyone could have done what I did if only they’d bothered to do it, but the fact is if what you did was easy then everyone would be doing it. But they aren’t. Your achievements are your own, no matter how attainable you perceive them to be.
“I was just lucky this time out…”
This is another big one, especially if you’ve found success hard to come by in the past. Suddenly, you find yourself in a phase in life where things are flowing much easier. But you fear that they’re simply a ‘one-hit wonder,’ and when put under pressure won’t be able to produce the same results again.