“Crikey! Not another Imposter (Impostor) Syndrome article in my news feed!”
It does seem that every few weeks a news story breaks that reports how a high ranking director of an organisation has been dismissed when it’s been discovered that their cv and career history was fabricated.
Here’s an example of a from The Guardian in 2018, Is Impostor Syndrome just for women?
Amazingly enough, those people had often been in those positions for many years without the offence being brought out into the open.
So, if those people can lie, fabricate a convincing back-story and bank a wage to which they weren’t entitled, why is it that other people, suitably qualified for their particular positions, live with an incessant and nagging doubt that they’re going to be unmasked, named as unsuitable, an imposter in fact?
First ‘coined’ in the 1970’s
The concept of impostor syndrome was introduced into the lexicon of psychological issues by clinical psychologists Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes from their studies in 1978.
They noticed specific repeated patterns of behaviour in the sample of 150 successful women they had worked with or liaised with in college classes.
Whilst at that time they believed it was a female-only issue, further research has revealed that us men too suffer from this issue.
Its effects can ‘spill over’ into other traits, such as underearning syndrome, anxiety and reduced confidence in other ways too.
Where does imposter syndrome originate from?
Perhaps we feel we were simply “lucky” at school or later, that the right questions simply came-up in the exams we sat, or that someone else’s results were accidentally swapped with ours.
We “know” we don’t deserve the results, promotions or positive feedback we get.
It is as if we believe that one day someone will turn up in our office and announce that we do not have the qualifications we think we have and that we are a fake.
Whilst on the one hand we know that this isn’t true, on the other hand we do believe it, and that part is the part that keeps nagging away in your head telling you that you don’t really deserve your success.
When working with clients we may explore the originating thoughts around your Imposter Syndrome, however, for some clients once we’ve uncovered where I.S is tripping them up in their day to day lives, that can be sufficient for their minds to make the shift to let I.S. simply become a thing of the past.
Yes, it’s true – you don’t have to ‘own’ your Impostor Syndrome for the rest of your life.
Recommended further reading
- Imposter Syndrome – Defining and Overcoming
- 10 signs you’re an underearner – Do you exhibit any of them? and
- Could you be a secret underachiever or underearner?
Are you troubled by Imposter Syndrome?
If you feel that you’re being held back by Imposter Syndrome then if you get in touch I can provide you with some questionnaires that may help to calibrate how bad it is.
We could then get on the phone (or Skype or similar) to review this and then perhaps you could begin to see some light at the end of the tunnel.