Have you ever been sitting a meeting, or a class or with friends and suddenly you have that sick feeling in your stomach.
They’re all going to find out I’m a fraud.
If you have then believe me you’re not alone. So many people around the world suffer with this they’ve actually come up with a term for it.
This is a term that was coined in the 1970s by researchers Pauline Clance PhD, and Suzanne Imes PhD to describe the behaviour they observed in some of their students. Like many of us, despite any of their achievements and top grades, the students found it difficult to accept their successes. New research has also been conducted by Ghent University, and they found that strangely those that suffer will tend to bury themselves into tasks, rather than working harder to prove the thing that they’re so worried about. The issue with this though is that they then become trapped in this sort of weird cycle of feeling like a fraud, but being afraid of being unmasked, so not wanting to do anything about it.
I’ve seen this pop up quite a lot in interviews, with even people who I would deem extremely successful, feeling the same way, such as Emma Watson and Maya Angelou. Even they feel like frauds, but why? I suffer from this a lot. A continuous cycle of not feeling good enough, feeling like I’m going to be ‘found out’ for not being good enough, and then so on and so forth.
It’s a reason why I hadn’t actually blogged again for a while. I felt like a fraud, any praise that I got for posts I’d done felt like it wasn’t deserved, that it was a fluke.
“Oh god they’re going to find out I have no idea what I’m doing”
Also it’s what holds me back going for certain things. I feel so convinced that there’s no point in trying as I’ll most likely fail, So if I only half try, I can tell myself that it’s OK, I only half tried so if I fail that’s the reason why. If I REALLY try and then fail, it’ll only prove my standing as a fraud. You see my trouble?
So how do you overcome it?
Well, if I’m honest I still suffer from this A LOT, but here are some things that I’ve found help along the way:
1. Keep a little folder of lovely things people have said about you
This one is a goodun, and one I’ve really tried to still to recently. Any nice tweets/emails I receive, I save them all in a little folder where I can look back on them. Now this doesn’t mean I’m anymore able to accept compliments, but it does help to solidify those feelings. Got a nice thank you note at work? Save it? Got a compliment about a blog post? Save it. Then when you’re feeling shitty, grab them out and give them a good read.
Although I do still feel like it’s somehow a fluke, but that’s something I need to work on.
2. Stop comparing yourself to everyone else
OK so this one is SO hard, but it’s a really important step to trying to combat this. You have to try and base your achievements and success on yourself, not based on everyone else, or you’ll really end up in the shit. You could try writing down a list of all the things you’re proud of to remind you of how far you’ve come and how YOU made it happen.
3. Remind yourself “It’s Impostor Syndrome”
Sometimes just taking it out loud reminds you of what you’re doing. Next time you feel this way, just say “it’s imposter syndrome, I’ve GOT THIS!” can stop those thoughts in their tracks.
4. Remember No One Knows What They’re Doing.
I mean this one couldn’t be more true could it? If you’re ever feeling like you don’t know what you’re doing, remind yourself that most of us are thinking the same thing. So many people are just faking it until they make it anyway, so don’t sweat it.
Has anyone else suffered from this? Do you have any tips to combat it?