Welcome to Part 2 of our Imposter Syndrome series. In our previous blog post, we delved into Dr. Valerie Young's five imposter types: The Perfectionist, The Expert, The Natural Genius, The Soloist, and The Super-person. For a more comprehensive understanding of each type, please refer to Part 1 of our series titled "Imposter Syndrome: Overcoming Feelings of 'I don't deserve to be here' and 'I'm a fraud.'"
Early research suggested that imposter syndrome was linked to factors such as family dynamics and gender stereotypes. However, subsequent research has revealed that this phenomenon affects individuals of all backgrounds, ages, and genders. Several factors contribute to imposter syndrome:
Family Upbringing: Family dynamics can significantly influence imposter syndrome. Specifically, individuals raised in households with controlling and overprotective parenting styles may be more prone to developing imposter syndrome. This could manifest in families that place a high value on achievements or caregivers who alternate between offering praise and being overly critical. Additionally, studies have indicated that individuals who grew up in households characterized by high conflict and low support are more likely to experience imposter syndrome.
New Opportunities: It's no surprise that starting a new role can trigger imposter syndrome. These feelings tend to intensify when individuals are undergoing major life changes, such as beginning a new job, changing schools, or starting college. The pressure to succeed combined with a lack of experience can evoke feelings of inadequacy in these new roles.
Personality Traits: While personality traits don't directly cause imposter syndrome, certain traits have been associated with a higher risk of experiencing it. These traits include perfectionism, low self-efficacy (belief in one's ability to succeed), and neuroticism, a Big 5 personality trait linked to higher levels of anxiety and insecurity.
Social Anxiety: Imposter syndrome and social anxiety share similarities. Although the symptoms of social anxiety can exacerbate imposter syndrome, they don't always occur together. Typically, imposter syndrome causes individuals who are normally non-anxious to experience anxiety when they feel inadequate in certain situations.
To make progress in overcoming imposter syndrome, individuals need to address the deeply ingrained beliefs they hold about themselves. Here are some strategies that can help:
Share Your Feelings: Irrational beliefs tend to fester when kept silent. Sharing imposter feelings with others can reduce feelings of loneliness. However, it's essential to choose trusted individuals (sometimes outside your professional circle) who can provide an accurate and supportive perspective on your accomplishments and value.
Celebrate Successes: People who struggle with imposter feelings often downplay their successes. Pay attention to how you respond when others congratulate you and actively speak positively about yourself. Save tangible reminders like emails with positive feedback, no matter how big or small, to remind yourself of how others perceive your accomplishments during moments of heightened imposter syndrome.
Let Go of Perfectionism: This doesn't mean lowering your standards, but rather adjusting your definition of success. Focusing on progress rather than aiming for perfection can combat imposter syndrome. Resist the urge to view situations where standards aren't met as failures and reframe them as opportunities for growth, ultimately moving you closer to your desired success.
Limit Social Media Usage: Social media often leads to feelings of inferiority through constant comparisons. Being intentional about your social media consumption and avoiding unnecessary comparisons can help reduce imposter syndrome.
Practice Self-Reflection: Cultivate self-compassion by shifting your focus from external accomplishments to internal self-worth. Reflect on when imposter feelings arise and how you respond to them. This self-awareness can help you respond intentionally to these feelings, as the process is often subconscious.
Wishing you all success on your journey to overcome imposter syndrome. Until next time, take care of yourself, and have a Happy Holiday season!