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06 Jan 2021

Imposter Syndrome

What is Imposter Syndrome?

Imposter Syndrome (IS) was first recognised by Psychologists in 1970 and was originally thought to predominantly affect high achieving women. It has since been recognised to affect individuals from all backgrounds, regardless of status, skill, work background and levels of expertise. Imposter Syndrome is an internal experience that affects the way we feel about our competence, usually in a work-related role. Thoughts of feeling fraudulent and that you’ll be ‘caught out’ are usually the most prominent thoughts.

Whilst it is not a classified disorder, it’s estimated that around 70% of people will experience at least one ‘episode’ of IS in their life*.

Common signs of Imposter Syndrome are: –

  • Continuously berating your own performance
  • Not believing your work is good enough, self-doubt
  • Fear of not living up to everybody’s or your own expectations
  • Feeling your success is only due to luck rather than skill
  • An inability to set realistic goals, feeling strong disappointment when unable to meet them
  • Overachieving
  • Taking on extreme workloads
  • Agonising over small mistakes or flaws
  • Sensitivity to constructive criticism
  • Downplaying your expertise

For some, these feelings are the motivation of what drives them forward. However, it often comes with a price which is usually in the form of continuous anxiety. An individual that is experiencing Imposter Syndrome is often prepared to work harder in order to ensure they aren’t ‘exposed as a fraud’, and therefore are much more likely to overwork which can lead to burnout and stress.


Types of IS

There are a few different types of Imposter Syndrome that have been recognised but here are some examples: – *

  • Perfectionists – Those who are never satisfied and feel that they can always do better, will usually only focus on the flaws in their work rather than the strengths
  • ‘Superheroes’ – Those who feel inadequate and feel that pushing themselves to the maximum is the only way of dispelling that inadequacy
  • The ‘Expert’ – Those that are highly trained and skilled, but not satisfied by the level of understanding they possess. They will often underrate their knowledge

The main problem attached with Imposter Syndrome is that it can be a vicious cycle. Our internal beliefs can be so strong that no matter how well we do something, simply experiencing that job done well isn’t enough to change our thought patterns alone.

Negative thinking and self-doubt can lead to self-sabotage and further anxiety. It can help to talk to a therapist if you’re experiencing these feelings. Confronting deep seated beliefs can be a helpful way for tackling these irrational fears and thoughts head on.

Our practitioners here at The Eaves can provide support if you’re struggling. We have highly trained Counsellors, Psychologists and Psychotherapists available across Surrey in Guildford, Godalming and Farnham. Support is available to individuals of all ages, Monday to Saturday between 9am and 9pm.  Please call 01483 917000 to speak to a member of the referrals team if you would like any help sourcing a suitable practitioner.

You can also contact us using our enquiry form. Click here to find out more.