The “Imposter Syndrome”

Feelings of self-doubt can plague any of us. An internal negative dialogue can be debilitating. We may not feel worthy of our accomplishments or even devalue them because they don’t meet our expectations. Of course, the expectations are for perfection!!!! Since no one can be perfect, we arrive at not feeling very good about ourselves, perhaps even a fake, imposter about to be found out as incompetent. This fear and negativity generates a lack of self-worth, poor self-esteem can threaten confidence and happiness, thus fueling our feeling like a fraud.
Psychologists Pauline Rose Clance and Suzanne Imes first documented the Imposter Phenomenon. Their research documents how high achievement doesn’t automatically translate or correlated to a deep sense of confidence. Many people fear being discovered as imposters which feeds a sense of doubt and fear. In fact, questions arise that dominate the negative self-talk with questions of “Do I deserve to be here?”, “Do I really have what it takes to succeed?” Anxiety levels rise. Fear of being “discovered”  as less than competent or even a fraud can be a plague as you progress through the career ladder. What to do?

  1. Squelch the negative inner voice and replace it with positive and affirming self-talk.
  2. Don’t fall into the “perfect trap.” Being a perfectionist will cold your judgement and cause you to procrastinate and drive more negativity. Who can really be perfect anyway?
  3. Learn by taking risks to achieve your goals. Mistakes are opportunities to improve. Setbacks help you grow. Embrace them and then enjoy the journey.
  4. Doubts? Get some coaching or help to focus on what is really important to gain a new perspective.
  5. Focus…….stifle the inner critic and build an self-affirming. Validate yourself, focus on successes and what you do well.
  6. Validate, affirm and enjoy your accomplishments and successes. 

Confidence is knowing you can do something well. Self-esteem is “how you feel about what your are doing.”  So, work on every project, relationship and effort to focus on doing your best, then confidence and self-esteem will emerge. Then, you won’t feel like a fraud or imposter. 

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Dr. Mike Klaybor

Dr. Mike Klaybor

Dr. Mike Klaybor brings thirty years of experience in practicing counseling psychology with individuals and couples. His approach is cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT. Specific specialties include; anxiety and stress management, chronic pain & chronic illness management, depression, substance abuse evaluations, employee assistance and executive coaching for workplace performance and leadership.