Imposter Syndrome

Harvard Business Review:

According to Harvard Business Review, ‘Imposter syndrome can be defined as a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist despite evident success. ‘Imposters‘ suffer from chronic self-doubt and a sense of intellectual fraudulence that override any feelings of success or external proof of their competence. They seem unable to internalize their accomplishments; however successful they are in their field. High achieving, highly successful people often suffer, so imposter syndrome doesn’t equate with low self-esteem or a lack of self-confidence. In fact, some researchers have linked it with perfectionism, especially in women and among academics.’

Psychologist Pauline Rose Clance was the first to study this phenomenon in her work as a therapist to undergraduate students. She found many of her students has high grades but persistent feelings that they were unworthy of being at the university or even that their admission to the university was an error.

Einstein has been said to have had imposter syndrome, and felt undeserving of all the attention his ideas and experiments got.

It’s not a disease or abnormality, it’s universal across gender (though more common in women), races and ages.

70% of people have these feelings and periods in life:

4 Traits of imposter syndrome:

  1. Fear of Failure
  2. Perfectionism
  3. Anxiety
  4. Persistent self-doubt

Harvard Business Review:

Ted Talks on Imposter Syndrome:

So what can you do to start to overcome Imposter Syndrome?

• Recognize imposter syndrome and name it. Awareness is the first step to change, this takes the feelings out of your limbic center and allows you to logically think through them and rewrite those neural networks over time.

• Every failure is a learning opportunity– you can reframe, learn and grow from all of your ‘failures’

• Be kind to yourself– everyone makes mistakes because we’re all human. Love yourself and forgive yourself!


-talk about it

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