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  • Writer's pictureSam Boulazreg Registered Psychotherapist (Q)

Ways to Overcome the Impostor Syndrome

Ways to Overcome the Impostor Syndrome

By: Sam Boulazreg, Registered Psychotherapist (Q)

Ever have those days where you look at your accomplishments and feel like a fraud? Like you've just been riding a wave of good fortune and haven't actually earned any of your success? If you're nodding along, you're probably familiar with the “mental bug” we know as Impostor Syndrome. This sneaky mindset, coined by Clance & Imes back in 1978, tricks you into believing you're undeserving of your triumphs and that you've just been fooling everyone around you. Funny enough, the smarter you get, the more you realize how much there is to know, and the more this impostor feeling can grow. It's like an irony wrapped in a paradox! But here's the catch - if you're feeling like an impostor, it actually signals that you're intelligent and self-aware.

Now, before you brush this off, consider this: Impostor Syndrome isn't a phenomenon to be taken lightly. It's been linked with heightened anxiety, depression, overall mental distress, and a lower sense of self-worth. It's perfectly okay to have those fleeting thoughts of feeling "not good enough" now and then. However, if these feelings start to form a pattern or dominate your inner dialogue, it's time to hit the brakes. What you could be facing is a sort of internal hijacking, where self-critical thoughts are amplified, and you're stuck in a loop of self-doubt.

If you're wrestling with these feelings, remember, you're not alone. Suppressing these emotions or denying their existence only amplifies the problem. It creates unnecessary stress and self-imposed pressure, making you feel even worse about yourself. Additionally, this emotional struggle can hinder your personal growth and development.

For instance, individuals with Impostor Syndrome often have a hard time dealing with criticism. Normally, constructive feedback is a key driver of growth, helping us refine our skills and increase our confidence. But if you're suffering from Impostor Syndrome, you might start to perceive criticism as a personal attack that confirms your deepest fears. This negative mindset can prevent you from making the most out of the feedback, thus stalling your growth.

Also, being in the grip of Impostor Syndrome can make you underestimate your abilities while simultaneously overestimating others. It's as if everyone else has a secret playbook you don't have access to. This skewed perception deepens the gap between you and your peers, making you feel like an even bigger fraud. Unfortunately, this problem is amplified in competitive environments, like graduate and postgraduate schools, where there are countless opportunities for comparison.

One of the strange side-effects of Impostor Syndrome is what researchers call 'intellectual flattery.' This means you may find yourself mimicking other people's opinions just to fit in or get approval from peers and superiors. The trouble with this is, if everyone is too scared to challenge the status quo, personal and professional growth may be hampered. This intellectual conformity undermines the creative and analytical processes needed to push boundaries and introduce novel ideas.

Another related problem that goes hand-in-hand with Impostor Syndrome is perfectionism. While striving for excellence is usually a good thing, when it's rooted in fear, one ends up striving for perfection—something that is impossible and unrelentingly crippling, particularly for individuals with Impostor Syndrome. This unhealthy obsession with perfection can further trigger anxiety, lower self-esteem, and foster a defeated mindset.

However, there's a bright side: you can take action. Sharing your feelings with trusted friends, family, or colleagues (who are likely experiencing the same feelings as you) can create a sense of liberation that you aren’t alone in this. Journaling your accomplishments can also be a great exercise. In your moments of self-doubt, re-read what you wrote and remember everything you’ve accomplished so far. Mindfulness practices, such as meditation, can also help manage these feelings. For example, if you notice a surge of impostor-like feelings after receiving criticism, you can practice deep breathing exercises to calm yourself down. By consistently applying this approach whenever you experience a self-critical or impostor-like thought, you can foster an association that evolves into an automatic response. This will help interrupt the cycle of impostor thoughts, guiding your mindset back towards a more positive and realistic state.

Another very important thing to remember is that you should not let your opportunities for growth be misperceived as criticisms of your worth. Embrace constructive criticism, see it as a catalyst for growth, rather than a validation of our perceived inadequacies. A good support crowd can help instill confidence in our skills and capabilities and reassure us that it's okay to ask for help when we need it, and that we are not the mistakes we make.

So, if you find yourself wrestling with Impostor Syndrome, remember, you're not alone. There's a whole community of 'impostors' out there, and plenty of effective strategies to help you combat this mindset. Believe it or not, the mere fact that you're concerned about being an impostor is a testament to your intelligence and self-awareness. You are more capable and deserving than you think. Keep going; you've got this.

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27 jun 2023
Obtuvo 5 de 5 estrellas.

Great read

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