Overcoming The Imposter Syndrome

Imposter syndrome is only a feeling or belief, not a reality. This article identifies the signs, types, and how to overcome imposter syndrome.

By Dr. Gwendolyn Maria Parrish — November 28, 2022


Overcoming The Imposter Syndrome

What It Is

Imposter syndrome is described as a psychological, behavioral pattern in which some people believe they are a fraud and not as competent as others may perceive them to be. Regardless of the external proof of their success in the real world—like maintaining a high grade-point average or getting career opportunities that will place them in positions of power, etc.—they still feel as though they are not worthy of this admiration. The syndrome may cause many to feel their success is not due to their hard work or abilities but rather a stroke of good luck.

What Are the Signs?

Some signs of imposter syndrome include self-doubt, which may be demonstrated by negative self-talk. If you have ever won an award or received an honor at work or school and immediately thought, "I'm sure they give that to everyone," you may experience imposter syndrome. When you choose to believe that the result of your hard work is just 'having good luck,' that is a sign of negative belief about your ability. Doing so may even make you feel anxious since you feel guilty for something you have achieved, as though you don't deserve it.

A Few Types of Imposter Syndrome

According to VeryWellMind, several types of imposter syndrome impact the lives of people who find success. Despite the evidence, they continue to believe that they are not truly successful in the way they wish to be, which continues to drive them to achieve more and more.

    Perfectionist: A that everything you do must be perfect and without error of any kind. Otherwise, you are not good enough. (Remember that this is NOT true)!

    The Expert: If you are the expert, you may have moments when you feel like an imposter if you don't know EVERYTHING there is to know about the field of your expertise. You believe you must know all there is to know in the field, which is not humanly possible. You may feel that others think you know more than you believe you do. (Again, this is not true).

    The Soloist: If you work alone but had to ask for assistance at times in your career or school, you may believe that you didn't do it all ON YOUR OWN! To be a success, you must do it alone with no help from anyone. (This is not possible).

    The Natural Genius: If you have a moment when you don't instantly know the solution to an issue, you feel that you are not naturally intelligent. You must get things done correctly first, or you are a fraud. (Not at all).

Some people debate what causes imposter syndrome in some people. Some researchers argue that it has something to do with family history and how a person is raised (i.e., strict parents). More recent studies have led some to believe it is a personality trait like any other. The actual cause may vary; however, the 'cure' is believed to be simple.

Steps to Overcome Imposter Syndrome

First, you can start by changing the dynamic of your self-talk strategies. Start by asking yourself a few questions that will challenge how you think about your value. For example, ask yourself if you must be perfect for others to accept you or if you are worthy of the recognition you have received at school or on the job. Also, stop comparing yourself to others. What you accomplish should not relate to anyone else or what they have done. You may want to talk to others; friends can help you to see the value in yourself that they see every day. To learn more about staying emotionally healthy, read this article from the SAGE newsroom.

To sum up, you want to remember that imposter syndrome is only a feeling or belief, not a reality. Take time to look back on all that you have accomplished. If there are times when you start to tell yourself that you are a fraud, think about all of the hard work you had to do to get to where you are now, whether it is recognition at your school or university or even a promotion at work that you have earned. Just believe in yourself! You are worth all of the hype!

Dr. Gwendolyn Maria Parrish

Dr. Gwendolyn Maria Parrish

Dr. Gwendolyn M. Parrish is a graduate of MSU, where she received a BA in Elementary Education and an MS in Educational Leadership. Maria has more than ten years of experience in the classroom and two years as a high school vice-principal. She is a graduate of Capella University, where she completed a Ph.D. program in Curriculum and Instruction and Administration. Maria has also been a writing consultant for Capella for the past three years and enjoy working with learners of all ages.
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