I recently completed a course on LinkedIn Learning called Understanding Imposter Syndrome. Sounds like something you’d hear on a television crime drama, doesn’t it? But in reality, it’s a disorder felt by millions of people around the globe.
According to the Harvard Business Review, “imposter syndrome is loosely defined as doubting your abilities and feeling like a fraud. It disproportionately affects high-achieving people, who find it difficult to accept their accomplishments. Many question whether they’re deserving of accolades.”
According to a review article published in the International Journal of Behavioral Science, an estimated 70% of individuals experience imposter syndrome at some point in their lives.
If you think you’re alone in these feelings, well, you’re in good company. Maya Angelou, Tom Hanks, Sheryl Sandberg, are just a few. Oh, and you can add me to that list as well.
So it seems imposter syndrome can apply to anyone “who isn’t able to internalize and own their successes,” says psychologist Audrey Ervin.
There is no single answer as to why people experience such feelings. Many experts believe that family and behavioral causes, as well as cultural stereotypes, play a big role. Ervin says, “People often internalize these ideas: that to be loved or be lovable, ‘I need to achieve’. It becomes a self-perpetuating cycle.”
One of the suggestions through my coursework to counter this syndrome was simple but I can assure you potent. When feelings of imposter syndrome begin creeping up on you, stop yourself, grab a pen and paper and write down all the legitimate reasons why you should doubt yourself – why you should brand yourself a fraud? Remember, I said “legitimate” reasons, not hyperbole bred from emotions.
When you do, you’ll discover something profound – that your reasons for self-doubt and sentiments like “I’m not good enough” when measured up against others is what’s actually fraudulent.
It’s important to remember that everyone has wonderful skills and talents, but we all have faults too. Regardless of what people say or how they behave, no one is perfect. No one.
We all must be proud of our contributions to the world regardless of their grandeur in the eyes of a judgemental society. Our time here on this earth matters and it should never be wasted questioning whether or not you’re good enough for everybody else.