Impostor Syndrome – What I've Learned

Impostor syndrome is a term that you may or may not be familiar with. It’s defined as:

a pattern of behavior where people doubt their accomplishments and have a persistent, often internalized fear of being exposed as a fraud.

Psychology Today

While it’s a term that we may more frequently hear now, it was coined by Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes in 1978 when they discovered that people were experiencing a feeling of being undeserving of their accomplishments despite adequate proof of earning their success.

I’ll be honest in saying that I’ve struggled with these very feelings throughout different stages of my life without knowing there was an actual term for it. Today I want to share how I am actively fighting against these thoughts.

Depression Can Play a Part

It’s no secret that I’m a person who deals with depression. While I do a pretty decent job controlling it through therapy, learned behaviors and medication; sometimes it can get the best of me.

There will be times I’m at a low and I begin to reflect on the things I’m truly grateful for in my life. I do this as a way to practice gratitude and center my thoughts. Sometimes though, I’ll begin to feel as if I don’t deserve the good things that I’ve accomplished and find myself minimizing and scrutinizing my accomplishments.

Talk with a Close Friend

Having a friend who knows you well can be a really helpful way to deal with your impostor syndrome. For example, my husband and my best friend have known me the longest. They’ve seen me fail and they’ve also seen me succeed. Talking to the both of them helps me to remember that I’ve worked really hard to accomplish some things in my life.

It’s Ok to Be Proud of Yourself

One of the things I have done is downplay the things I was really proud of out of fear of appearing arrogant. I never want to come off as a braggart, and I have also had experiences where my success has offended my associates. As a result, I internalized those feelings even though I shouldn’t have.

Balance is honestly key. You can be humble and still celebrate the things you accomplish. Working hard to accomplish something and being proud of it truly is a normal response.

Gratitude is Key

Being grateful for what you accomplish is just as important of being proud of what you’ve accomplished. I’m grateful that I was able to put my hard work into something and reap good results. Practicing gratitude is a great way to remain balanced and help fight those negative thoughts of impostor syndrome.

In Conclusion

First, everyone experiences impostor syndrome at one time or another in their life. Impostor syndrome does not have to be a permanent state of mind. It’s important that you get to the root cause and work on dismantling those negative thoughts. Therapy is a really good outlet to work through those feelings if you’re unable to do it on your own.

In the end, you are deserving of what you’ve worked hard for, and it truly is as simple as that.