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What is Imposter Syndrome and How to Overcome It?

Imposter syndrome

Imposter syndrome can be defined as a psychological phenomenon in which a person consistently doubts their talents, achievements, and skills and constantly fears being unveiled as a fraud. Anyone can experience it, and it can happen in a variety of contexts, including the workplace among diverse employees, close relationships, and other social encounters.

What is Imposter Syndrome?

People often in a competitive, diverse environment may suffer from imposter syndrome at times and believe that despite their best efforts- their successes and accomplishments are not theirs. Even if what they portray is genuine, they always feel as though they are misleading people. This mental thought can cause serious drama within one’s mind and will prevent them from fulfilling their potential.

Imposter syndrome, particularly among minorities, is related to self-doubt, low self-esteem, depression, and anxiety, even though it is not listed as a form of mental health disorder. Both the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) for mental health disorders published by the American Psychiatric Association and the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Classification of Diseases (ICD) do not recognize this syndrome as a mental health disease (APA).

Most people who suffer from imposter syndrome do not share their feelings with others because they are afraid of being found out. They may also feel that they do not need to seek help because they are not worthy of receiving mental health care.

Imposter syndrome was initially thought to be primarily among women diversity, however, research published in the International Journal of Behavioral Sciences in 2011 showed that men can also experience imposter syndrome if they are high achievers.

Reasons for Imposter Syndrome

If a person grew up in a home that continuously sent out mixed signals, such as criticism on the one hand and over-praise on the other hand, imposter syndrome may start when they are impacted from a young age.

The need to succeed in society and the need to feel inclusively diverse may be another possible reason why people have imposter syndrome. Only when someone succeeds are they made to feel deserving.

Imposter syndrome can also be caused by personality factors like being a perfectionist and having low self-confidence.

Impact Of Imposter Syndrome

People around the world suffer from feelings of imposter syndrome, but for those affected by racism and those who belong to BIPOC communities, the situation is worse. This is due to the widespread stigma that is associated with colored people, minorities, and indigenous persons. 

A person of color may have to work extra hard to match up to societal standards among diverse professionals. They are put under tremendous pressure from society and are generally made to feel like they are not worth it. They are also not taken seriously by others, especially in a diverse workplace. As a result, when they achieve anything there is constant doubt as to whether they actually deserve the credit, thus making them feel more like a fraud.  

Three Ways To Overcome Imposter Syndrome

#1 Recognize Imposter Syndrome

Recognizing imposter syndrome and comprehending how it impacts your life is the first step. Impostor syndrome does not equate to being a fraud or imposter. Once you know that you are in no way a fraud, it will be easier to overcome the syndrome. 

Acknowledge that you may have imposter syndrome and seek help from a good friend or a counselor. Once you take the first step, try to challenge yourself to prove yourself wrong. Change your train of thought by repeating positive affirmations instead of negative self-talk.

#2 Look For Support

Know that you are not alone no matter what your current life circumstances may be. Look to your family and friends for support, whether at home or at work. With the right support, you will receive validation from others, thus helping to boost your confidence. 

For instance, if you are a member of the BIPOC group, make an effort to network with other members of your community who share your identity. If you come across people who have the same emotions, you can work through them together and provide support for one another also as a part of building community.

#3 Stop Comparing Your Life To Others

Remember that those to whom you compare yourself also compare themselves to others. Moreover, what others portray may not always be the truth or maybe just the highlights of their life. Comparisons only add extra pressure which is unnecessary most of the time. 

You may not be good at every task and that is perfectly fine as no one is an expert at all tasks! Focus on your talents and abilities and look for ways to add to your skill set.

Always maintain a positive attitude and try to seek support for any feelings of anxiety, depression, or inferiority complexes. Reiterate your self-worth every day, especially in situations where you feel unworthy of success. Once you begin to act confidently others around you will slowly begin to respect you too!

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