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This is how imposter syndrome uses success against us

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Imposter syndrome It is a psychological phenomenon that leads some people to have a distorted view of their own merits and abilities. In fact, you could almost say that it makes your own success look like a problem. Let's see how it is.

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What is it like to experience imposter syndrome?

Imposter syndrome is characterized by a pattern of behavior that is characterized by the existence of doubts about their own abilities, fear of failure and low expectations regarding the results of their own projects. It usually occurs at the beginning of challenges that the person gives value to, such as a new job, being a new parent, starting a business, receiving an award, etc.

Although imposter syndrome is not a recognized disorder as such in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), it is estimated that approximately 70% of people have experienced this phenomenon some time.

Usually, people with this syndrome may consider that others unreasonably magnify or overestimate their own achievements

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; hence they think they are impostors. In this way, they believe they are not worthy of the recognition that others (friends, bosses, etc.) give them and show concern that others might discover that they are not as smart or skilled as they might seem.

His strange relationship to success

As a mechanism, people with imposter syndrome They may attribute their success or skill to luck, chance, their own charisma, or simply being in the right place at the right time.. Ultimately, they tend to focus on what is alien to oneself when explaining their success and recognition, considering that they are not up to the task. These feelings described can lead the person to work even harder and increase her effort in the face of fear of being unmasked, which can lead to greater success and feedback on initial beliefs and feelings.

The pattern described it is not associated with a high failure rate or a history of unexpected results, quite the opposite. Despite the fact that the person may have the recognition of merits and achievements in certain competencies, the associated feeling in the face of new challenges is quite different. The perception regarding self-efficacy, the selfconcept, the social dimension and high self-demand seem to be related to this phenomenon.

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What can be done before him from Psychology?

One of the tests to evaluate the impostor syndrome is the CIPS, developed by Pauline Clance. The questionnaire assesses concerns about being a fraud and doubts about one's ability and intelligence. Likewise, it inquires about the attribution of merits and the inability or difficulty to accept praise and recognition for the good results obtained.

However, as in most disorders and problems related to mental health, it is difficult for the person to recognize these symptoms and to seek psychological help. Some of the statements that the person with this tendency could identify with are as follows:

  • "It can make me feel like I'm smarter than I look."
  • "I'm afraid of not meeting the expectations of others."
  • "I tend to remember more the moments in which I have failed compared to the situations in which I succeeded."
  • "I have a hard time acknowledging compliments or praise for my achievements."
  • "I worry about not successfully completing my tasks or projects, even though others tell me that I am capable."
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In therapy, work on self-assessments, self-efficacy and perfectionismAmong other areas, it can help the person to accept and value their achievements, reducing the negative feelings described. Knowing and elaborating on this question could bring benefits to life satisfaction and have a positive impact on academic and work environments. Therefore, faced with the impostor syndrome get in touch with psychologists is a recommended option.

Bibliographic references:

  • Jiménez, E. F., & Moreno, J. B. (2000). Defensive pessimism and the impostor syndrome: analysis of its affective and cognitive components. Journal of Psychopathology and Clinical Psychology, 5 (2), 115-130.
  • Bogiaizian, D. (2018). Imposter Syndrome and Anxiety.
  • Chrisman, S. M., Pieper, W. A., Clance, P. R., Holland, C. L., & Glickauf-Hughes, C. (1995). Validation of the Clance imposter phenomenon scale. Journal of Personality Assessment, 65 (3), 456-467.
  • Vergauwe, J., Wille, B., Feys, M., De Fruyt, F., & Anseel, F. (2015). Fear of being exposed: The trait-relatedness of the impostor phenomenon and its relevance in the work context. Journal of Business and Psychology, 30 (3), 565-581
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