Do you feel like you don’t belong? Imposter Syndrome: What it is & how to beat it

Do you ever feel like you don’t belong?

Maybe you feel like you are completely winging it at work and don’t deserve the position you have. Maybe you feel like your group of friends will discover your true personality and decide to drop you. Insecurity at work and in social situations is completely normal, but when these feelings start to affect your day to day life or inhibit you, it’s time to have a closer look at your mental health.

Imposter Syndrome is defined by a person’s inability to internalise their success. In other words, a constant feeling that what you have achieved in any aspect of your life can be attributed only to luck and not your own merit. You feel as if you haven’t earned the love or respect of those around you. You might even live in fear that your colleagues, friends or family will find out that you are a fraud because you think you're not as competent as you seem.

In the beginning, those who identified the phenomenon believed that only women could suffer from Imposter Syndrome. However, these days we know that absolutely anyone can experience more than their fair share of these inhibiting thoughts.

Even mental health professionals have found it hard to put their finger on what causes this uncomfortable state of mind. However, the following factors could influence your ability to internalise your own success:

  • Firstly, those who already suffer from an anxiety disorder can be susceptible to Imposter’s Syndrome.
  • High achievers and highly intelligent individuals can develop Imposter Syndrome when they are achieving less than perfection in their own view.
  • Those who grew up with the notion that academic success would earn the love of their parents may also feel like an ‘imposter’ at some stage in their lives.

It's very easy to tell someone with Imposter Syndrome to simply stop feeling like an imposter. Fighting hard against this state of mind can sometimes make feelings even stronger.

Here are a few small ways you can reframe your mindset when you are having ‘imposter thoughts’:

  • Observe these thoughts but try not to engage with them. This means that when a thought such as, ‘I’m not qualified to do this job’ surfaces, acknowledge it as it floats by but try not to analyse it or pick a fight with it.
  • Thoughts are not facts, period. The key is not to treat imposter thoughts as gospel. When you get the sudden feeling that your best friend no longer finds you interesting, try to recognise that just because the thought is there, it doesn’t make it true.
  • Try to accept that those who don’t feel like an imposter are no more intelligent, lovable or deserving of their successes than you are.
  • Tell someone you trust how you feel so that they can reassure you that your thoughts are normal.
  • Resist the urge to eliminate your thoughts. Instead, try to accept them and move on quickly.
  • Seek help from a healthcare professional if these thoughts are overwhelming.

So many of us suffer from this frustrating syndrome, so please share any tips you have on how to beat it with those around you.

Source: Psychology Today 

With her daughter Evie as her muse, Anna writes about mumhood and all its intersections from mental health to movies, social issues to pop culture. Anna lives in Dublin with her daughter, partner, three younger sisters and parents. She is a dreadful cook, a fair guitar player and thinks caffeine should be given as a yearly vaccine to parents - courtesy of the HSE.

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