It has been estimated that nearly 70% of individuals will experience signs of impostor phenomenon at least once in their life. Why so many of us can’t get rid of the feeling that we have earned our accomplishments by luck or that our skills are not worth rewarding?
Feeling inadequate in your profession despite having significant experience in your field and persistent inability to recognize that your success has been legitimately achieved is commonly known as an impostor syndrome.
It’s not a disease or abnormality. It has no official definition or criteria and won’t be found in DSM. It isn’t necessarily connected to depression, anxiety or self-esteem either. At the same time, this common issue has been established globally across gender, race, age, and a wide range of occupations.
Most of us doubt ourselves privately but because people do not talk about their doubts openly, we believe we’re alone in thinking that way and go along with incorrect patterns. Insecurities block people from voicing their vulnerabilities and stating ideas that could actually turn out great. The same thing applies to the range of knowledge or expertise. Most people tend to consider themselves less competent or skilled than their colleagues.
“In social psychology, pluralistic ignorance is a situation in which a majority of group members privately reject a norm, but go along with it because they assume, incorrectly, that most others accept it. “.
On the other hand, high levels of self-confidence can be a result of the “Dunning-Kruger effect,” which essentially means you can’t recognize your own incompetence. Many people are afraid that their fears will be confirmed if they ask for feedback or performance valuation. Hearing feedback from a trained and understanding leader who is open about their experience can help relieve those feelings. The same goes for colleagues. Once you’re aware of the syndrome, you can actively start talking about it and fighting it.
The 5 types of impostor syndrome:
Dr. Valerie Young is an expert on imposter syndrome. She’s the author of “The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women: Why Capable People Suffer from the Imposter Syndrome and How to Thrive in Spite of It” where she divides imposter syndrome into five types:
- The perfectionist- characterized by high self-expectations. Even small mistakes might make them feel like a failure.
- The Superwoman/Superman – They tend to work longer hours and avoid taking days off. Must succeed in all areas of life in order to prove their overall worth.
- The Natural Genius – People who are used to things coming easily. Might doubt themselves when something is too hard or they don’t master it quick enough.
- The Soloist – They feel like a failure or a fraud if they have to ask for help.
- The Expert – In constant pursuit of certifications or additional training as they feel they will never know enough to be truly qualified.
How to overcome Imposter Syndrome?
I realize that there are no easy solutions to getting rid of imposter syndrome and surely I’m not a mental health expert but you can take steps to thrive in spite of it. The mental health tips that can help every IT professional are quite universal and should be a part of everyone’s daily routine.
Try journaling to write down and recognize when feeling fraudulent is normal and when it isn’t to better understand how the pattern works and when it is triggered. Adopt a growth and self-validation mindset. Try to quiet the mind by taking time for yourself every day. Accept when you don’t have the answer and admit it as knowledge comes from asking questions.