Are you a person who can’t accept a compliment? Do you often feel like you don’t deserve the success you achieve? Do you feel like you are cheating on people and you will be discovered every hour? If your answer to these questions is yes, welcome to the circle of people who achieve great success and have a common problem: imposter syndrome. If you don’t know what this is, find the answer below.
It is widespread!
A large number of successful and world-famous people hide a great secret. They feel like cheaters, born under a lucky star, and think that they did not deserve their success in any way.
This phenomenon, in Serbian, is called “fraudster’s syndrome”, and is based on the belief that we are insufficient, inadequate, and incompetent failures, regardless of the evidence that tells us that we are quite capable and successful.
To be clear, people who really cheat people and commit fraud cannot suffer from this syndrome, because their fear of being exposed is completely real.
So, only those who really succeed, work on something, achieve goals, but still feel bad about it, can have the cheating syndrome.
What is Imposter Syndrome?
Imposter’s Syndrome (also known as the Impostor Phenomenon, Fraud Syndrome, or Impostor Experience) is a psychological syndrome or pattern that describes individuals who are marked by an inability to acknowledge their achievements and have a persistent fear of exposing their success as “fraud”.
The term “Imposter Syndrome” was coined in 1978 by clinical psychologists Paulina R. Clans and Susan A. Imes.
Imposter syndrome affects very intelligent people, regardless of demographic background.
Despite numerous realistic indicators of the abilities and values of their success, people suffering from this syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve praise from people.
These people explain their success as happiness, coincidence, coincidence, or the result of cheating other people.
Also, people who suffer from fraud syndrome do not believe in their abilities, intelligence and believe that they are not competent to be successful.
Although early research on this syndrome focused on women with high achievement and low self-esteem, Imposter syndrome was found to have equal effects on both sexes today.
The ways in which Imposter syndrome manifests itself
“I am a fraud”
A person who suffers from this manifestation of imposter syndrome is afraid that he will be discovered. She thinks that the day will come when all her successes will be buried, so that people will understand that nothing is deserved.
For example, Adam is a full professor at a prestigious university. He is considered one of the leading experts in a certain field, he often travels to conferences, workshops and is in a leading position in everything he does. Adam recently attended a high-level meeting. He felt uncomfortable because he was presented as a “respected professor”. Adam felt insecure and bad then, he thought everyone at the table knew what they were doing, they deserved to be there. He thinks that it is not a big part for them that he is a part of that and he feels that they will ask him to leave the meeting at any moment.
However, this syndrome does not only affect successful adults.
It is very common that the phrase “I am a fraud” is felt by young people who are just enrolling in high school or college. They are generally convinced that they were admitted to an institution by mistake or due to fortunate circumstances, and that when a mistake is discovered, they will be expelled and humiliated, because they are not good enough.
“I had lucked”
This perspective of the imposter syndrome is manifested mainly as a thought: “I’m not smart and talented, I’m just working hard“.
For example, Ana – is an investigative journalist and works for one of the well-known news outlets. She has published several important stories and received numerous awards that hang on the wall of her office. However, she thinks that every story she writes is the end of her career, that editors or readers will not like it, and that, even if she does not get fired, she will get every next topic as the fruit of pure happiness, not good abilities. She thinks that her career was successful, just because she was in the right place at the right time.
The idea of “I’m not talented, I’m just working hard on it…” is characteristic of women, especially those who work in a men’s team.
For example, Ines is a software engineer at a well-known technology company. Her grades are the best in relation to all employees and she has already been promoted twice. However, Ines attributes her credit to the fact that she arrives almost two hours before the other employees and stays in the office until the janitor goes home.
“I didn’t start programming when I was 14, like most of my male colleagues”, she says. “I am not a born engineer, but I am working to achieve what others are doing thanks to talent” – concludes Ines.
“It’s nothing special”
Although we sometimes think that some people are falsely modest and do not know how to accept compliments, they may actually be suffering from imposter syndrome.
Those who suffer from this manifestation, mostly find excuses for which they have achieved something important.
They often explain their successes as follows:
“It’s nothing special, it certainly wasn’t serious competition…”
“It wasn’t a hard test, the other group must have been harder…”
“I must have been the only one to apply…”
“It wasn’t an important competition anyway…”
“I’m beautiful? Come on, look, I’ve gained two kilos and my hair is like straw, and this sweater is old too…”
How does imposter syndrome develop?
The answer to this question is very complex.
Scientists claim that imposter syndrome occurs as a combination of several reasons:
Hard work and obsession with work
When a person works hard and is very intelligent, he often achieves great success. Hard work thus leads to the recognition received from the environment. The moment a hard worker doubts his qualities, he works even harder and better, to become even better. Then, when the job turns into a kind of obsession, imposter syndrome occurs, precisely because of hard work and the fear that you are not good enough. Even when he receives recognition for his work, a person who has cheating syndrome is not satisfied with himself, so he works harder and feels worse. In situations where he does not admit to himself that he has a problem with self-confidence, this can become a very exhausting process and very hard life.
When a person is very charming and charismatic, it is often easier to achieve success. Thanks to the attention it attracts, a person like this can get to something that other people have been fighting for a long time. For that reason, charming people often think that they are cheating on someone and that they did not deserve success, regardless of the fact that charm is a part of the character.
The family also plays an important role. One team of researchers studied the links between parenting styles and imposter syndrome. On that occasion, it was determined that the lack of parental care and too much parental care are related to a higher opinion of oneself.
Another study found that family expectations also influence the development of imposter syndrome. In families where children have to meet certain expectations of their parents and behave according to a certain pattern in order to be approved, children often grow up who later have a problem with self-confidence and self-esteem as well as evaluating their success.
This is how insecure people are created, who think that they constantly need the praise of others, and then when they get it, they think that even that is not enough.
Imposter syndrome in students
When we talk about pupils and students, the phenomenon of fraud is present in them mainly in the upper grades of high school or in the final year of college.
As young people are often compared to others, they become insecure and mostly lower their self-confidence until the moment when they think that they do not really deserve success and praise.
It often happens that students believe that they were admitted to the faculty because of their luck at the entrance exam, and not because of the really great results. Then they believe that the exam passed great, because they only got questions they knew, even though they learned almost the entire book.
The situation is the same with high school students, they mostly observe other students who work harder and therefore believe that those who have achieved success at the expense of intelligence, and not overwork, do not deserve success.
As adolescence and early youth are a period of change and growing up, it is even harder for young people to compare themselves with others, who often force themselves.
Given that today we live in a society ruled by the media and social networks, it is possible that this is the biggest trigger for the development of imposter syndrome in high school and college students. Today, more than ever, young people are able to observe other young people and spot their perfectly represented lives on social media.
Although we all know that social networks enable the manipulation of data and images, young people generally easily believe that they are worse than others or that they are not beautiful and smart enough.
This is the first step towards the development of imposter syndrome, and the key role in the development of this disorder for young people be played by family and close friends.
If a young person realizes that the comparison can lead to either frustration or motivation, depending on the perspective of looking at the person with whom he is being compared, he will very easily avoid the occurrence of imposter syndrome.
It is very important to lead young people to base their self-confidence on their own virtues and qualities, and not on the idea of doing something better than others.
Do you suffer from imposter syndrome?
If you suspect that you have the cheating syndrome, I will give you a few statements, which will help you, if you are honest with yourself, to understand whether this phenomenon bothers you as well.
Answer YES or NO to each statement.
1. I feel like I don’t deserve the success I’m achieving.
2. Even when people praise me, I feel like I haven’t achieved as much as they think.
3. Sometimes I am aware that they praise me, because I worked hard, but I still do not feel that my merits are mine.
4. I’m afraid of people will realize that I’m not as smart as they think.
5. Most of my successes weren’t really a big challenge.
6. I am very uncomfortable when someone compliments me.
7. I diminish the value of my achievements because I think they are not as important as other people say.
8. When people close to me praise me, I have the impression that they do it only because they love me and want me to feel good.
9. I always criticize myself before others.
10. I often don’t notice my successes until someone else points them out to me.
If you answered yes to more than six questions, you probably really have a tendency to belittle yourself and your achievements.
However, this test cannot be considered an official psychological test, but only a type of orientation in relation to the imposter syndrome.
So, if you think that you really suffer from this disorder, the surest way to determine it is to talk to a specialist, that is, a psychiatrist or psychologist.
Celebrities who suffer from imposter syndrome
The famous actress has spoken about this phenomenon on several occasions.
She explained her feelings like this: “I often think: Who would want to see me again in a movie? I don’t believe anyone would really like that…”
Although she became famous in the planet-popular film “Harry Potter”, and then in the movie “Beauty and the Beast”, Emma Watson is still a modest girl who suffers from imposter syndrome.
“When I was younger, that was it, I was just acting, that was what I was doing. Today, when I hear praise for my acting, I feel very uncomfortable. I completely shut myself in. I feel like a fraud, as if I was lucky to be a part of something and as if I didn’t get it through my own merit, but through a series of happy circumstances”. – explains the young actress.
“I’m really proud and a little surprised that I’m still getting jobs. Whenever I get a role, I feel like I may not have deserved it and that I will be fired every hour… ”- said this planetary popular actor.
The famous actress explained her imposter syndrome like this: “Sometimes I wake up the morning before filming and think that I can’t do this anymore, that I’m a cheater and that I don’t deserve what I get…”
Admit that this is the biggest shock for you? You did not expect Jennifer Lopez to be on this list, because she is one of the most famous singers of today. However, she is another in a series of celebrities who suffer from fraud syndrome.
“Even though I’ve sold over 70 million albums so far, there are times when I feel like I’m really not that good at what I’m doing”, she said.
I enrolled at Harvard right after Star Wars – Episode 1 was released. “I was most afraid that people would think that I enrolled in college just because I was famous and that I didn’t deserve to be there”, Natalie explained.
“I think the most creative people are struggling with ambition and anxiety at the same time. They all mostly suffer from low self-esteem and self-esteem. I can totally connect with that. I often wonder if what I am doing is good, if I am choosing the right elections or if everything is destined to be like this” – he said.
“I still feel like a quiet, withdrawn and neglected girl from high school. I often have to cheer myself on and convince myself that I am a superstar. That’s the only way I can get out of bed in the morning and do what my fans expect of me”. – Gaga explained.
How to overcome Imposter Syndrome?
If you suffer from Imposter Syndrome, don’t despair!
There are very simple ways to overcome this feeling, and I will list a few.
Accept the fact that you played a role in achieving success!
Think about when and why you have thoughts that indicate you have a cheating syndrome?
Then analyze the situation and think about what you did to succeed? When you realize that you are really engaged and put in a lot of effort, it will be easier for you to accept that you really have merit.
Focus on your values!
If you doubt yourself and your abilities, it means that you are not sure how much you are worth. For that reason, it is important to think about your virtues, instead of constantly finding yourself flaws. Focus on virtues and boost self-confidence.
Remember the beautiful things people say about you!
When someone praises you, simply accept the praise and remember the nice words spoken at your expense. People who suffer from the cheating syndrome, often ignore compliments, and memorize objections – change that!
Stop comparing yourself to others!
If you work in a team, it is very likely that you will be compared to your colleagues, that is the first step towards failure. Everyone is a person for themselves and everyone approaches works differently. Therefore, do not compare yourself with others, but give yourself and their praise for success.
Notice the impostor syndrome!
If you feel deficient, incompetent, or have low self-esteem and you know you have imposter syndrome, simply say to yourself, “Okay, I feel this way because I have the cheating syndrome”. This will help you feel better immediately because you will understand that your bad emotions are produced by the syndrome, and not by reality.
Motivation and affirmation are very important in the business world, especially when the competition is strong. Find a few minutes each day and read a few positive and encouraging thoughts, then remember your goals and desires and your focus will immediately return to the positive spheres of your life.
Understand why you have low self-esteem?
This is another important step in overcoming cheating syndrome. It is very important to know who convinced you and how you are not worth enough? Think about your childhood, your parents, puberty, and the influence of the environment. When you understand why you don’t believe in yourself, it will be easier for you to overcome the idea that it is true and you will soon become full of self-confidence.
Talk to someone about your fears!
Although this seems like a devastating step, because you have to admit how you feel, it is very important to talk to someone and understand that you are not the only one who has fears.
People generally do not talk about imposter syndrome, because they often think that they are the only ones who face these fears. In fact, that is by no means true.
Almost every one of us has at least once faced a situation in which he doubted himself and his qualities and abilities.
It has been scientifically proven that talking about what bothers us can completely solve our problem. The very fact that we have acknowledged how we feel, that we have talked about it and realized that we are not alone and the only one, is a big step towards recovery from some thoughts or fears.
Although the conversation looks like Sisyphus’ job, it is never in vain.
If you suffer from this syndrome, it is very important to work on yourself and solve this problem. Rest assured that each of us goes through various fears every day, some suffer from stress, some from anxiety, but only some have enough courage to overcome fear and make their lives much better.
Be one of those people who changed their lives by working on themselves.
Imposter syndrome is nothing more than the imaginary idea that you are not worth enough, so you need to realize that this is never true and that you are worth much more than you think.
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