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Understanding impostor syndrome and ways to combat it

Understanding impostor syndrome and ways to combat it Illustrative photo (Photo: Freepik)
Author: Daria Shekina

Impostor syndrome can affect many individuals, as not everyone acknowledges their successes and accomplishments.

RBС-Ukraine, based on the psychological portal Pleso, explains what impostor syndrome is and how it hinders our lives.

What is impostor syndrome?

It's essential to note that impostor syndrome is not an official psychiatric diagnosis like anxiety or depressive disorders. It's more of a fitting term for a specific set of feelings and beliefs to which many people are prone.

This term gained popularity, and now, when someone is mentioned as having impostor syndrome, you can somewhat understand what's meant.

Typically, individuals with this syndrome behave in the following ways:

  • They excessively criticize themselves for any mistake but may consider their achievements accidental, fortunate, or insignificant.
  • They tend to compare themselves unfavorably to others, believing that others are better than them. This feeling can be so strong that individuals might think they are deceiving everyone and don't truly deserve what they have, including praise and success.
  • These individuals often have objective achievements.

What else can trigger these feelings?

Certainly, impostor syndrome can stem from general self-doubt, but not all self-doubting individuals experience this syndrome.

The feeling of being different or self-doubt can trigger impostor syndrome. This usually implies having high standards for oneself, paying excessive attention to details, and striving for perfect results. However, perfection doesn't exist in life.

Due to this, people with this syndrome are often dissatisfied with their work, leading to the emergence of the impostor syndrome.

Understanding impostor syndrome and ways to combat itWhat is impostor syndrome (photo: Freepik)

Daily advice to overcome this syndrome

If you feel you have impostor syndrome, the main advice is to seek help from a professional who can assist you. This may be related to a complex personal history that has impacted your life.

Additionally, impostor syndrome may only be part of a more comprehensive issue concerning self-relationship.

How to ease your state

For instance, the thought "I'm a bad professional" can't be supported by the argument "It seems to me." However, it can be refuted by the fact that "I was recognized at work."

You can engage in an exercise. Write down the thoughts of your impostor and list two columns beneath: facts that confirm this thought and facts that contradict it. Then, analyze the presented facts and write a more realistic conclusion. It shouldn't be positive or negative as we analyze reality and consider everything.

Thus, the thought "I'm a bad professional" can transform into: "In 5 years, I was promoted twice, and I often receive positive feedback about my work. There were also negative comments. I still have room to grow and develop, and I'm a decent specialist."

Creating a comprehensive list of achievements in your life is also beneficial. From early childhood (e.g., learning a poem in kindergarten and reciting it at the celebration) to the present day.

It's important to note everything, even what may seem insignificant through our lenses (e.g., securing third place in a math Olympiad in the seventh grade).

Through our lenses, we might not notice achievements, considering them unimportant, thinking it was just luck. However, it's crucial to learn to notice victories, not just defeats.

In challenging moments, this positive experience can become our support. Additionally, creating a daily ritual of noting your achievements for the day can be beneficial. This will help develop a habit of noticing even your small achievements.

Keep a journal where you record every day. You cannot skip or omit new achievements because there's something in every day that went well, but sometimes it's hard to notice. This exercise will help cultivate the habit of recognizing your successes.

Also, read our article on what annoys men the most in communication with women.