You’re no good at this, you’ve no right to be here, who do you think you are?
If a family member, friend, or colleague spoke to you like this, you’d feel hurt, let down, and very offended, yet with imposter syndrome this is exactly the kind of dialogue that’s in your mind, speaking to yourself. Is it still offensive? Of course, it is.
What is it?
According to the American Society of Microbiology, a whopping 7 out of 10 people, experience imposter syndrome (known also as impostorism or the imposter phenomenon) which is a faulty belief system where one chronically doubts his or her abilities in spite of competing for external evidence.
You’re not alone
Initially thought to be just experienced by women, studies have shown that this in fact isn’t the case. While some also might think it’s experienced by people who don’t come from a highly esteemed academic background, this is also in fact incorrect, it’s common for it to be linked with perfectionism and internally believing that you are not as competent in the way others believe you to be.
Even Albert Einstein seemed to hint at being impacted by imposter syndrome when he once said: “The exaggerated esteem in which my lifework is held makes me very ill at ease. I feel compelled to think of myself as an involuntary swindler.”
Albert isn’t the only one to have felt this. Celebrities that you never thought would have a lack of confidence can also be subject to imposter syndrome.
Even award-winning actor Tom Hanks has felt it. In an interview with NPR, he explained that he felt particularly connected to his character in ‘A Hologram For the King’ because he too has experienced self-doubt.
Hanks said: “No matter what we’ve done, there comes a point where you think, ‘How did I get here? When are they going to discover that I am, in fact, a fraud and take everything away from me?’”
In Lady GaGa’s HBO special, she said: “I still sometimes feel like a loser kid in high school and I just have to pick myself up and tell myself that I’m a superstar every morning so that I can get through this day and be for my fans what they need for me to be.”
Characteristics of imposter syndrome
Very sensitive towards even constructive criticism
Setting unrealistic challenges and feeling like a failure when you fall short
Not being able to adequately assess your skills and competence
Fear of failure or that you won’t live up to expectations
How to fix it
Whilst doubtful thoughts about ourselves can emerge at different times we can help ourselves out of these thoughts when they do occur.
Recruit Ireland spoke to an accredited psychotherapist, certified life coach, experienced public speaker, trainer, and best-selling author, Siobhán Murray.
She said: “The feelings of imposter syndrome can be managed through simple steps. The first is being able to identify that it’s causing a problem for you. This can be the hardest step, but once you’ve acknowledged this you can then begin to implement what I call TLC.
“Ask yourself if your thought True, Logical, and Constructive. Using this process allows the skill set to quieten your inner critic in an organised way rather than jumping straight to feelings of imposter syndrome.”