As millions of people across the world return to working in offices, an issue which many people are talking about is mental wellbeing.
The impact the Pandemic has had on all our mental health, is clearly an issue which will be with us for some time, as we adapt to whatever the new normal brings us in the years ahead.
One such risk for everyone to be aware of, while not new, but which increases in periods of uncertainty, is what is commonly referred to as ‘imposter syndrome’.
Imposter syndrome is defined as a collection of feelings of inadequacy that persist even in the face of information to the contrary. People with imposter feelings experience chronic self-doubt and feel like an intellectual fraud. Imposter syndrome can happen to just about anyone.
To put it simply, imposter syndrome is the experience of feeling like a phony. You feel as though at any moment you are going to be found out as a fraud. It’s as if a voice on your shoulder is telling you that you don't belong where you are and you only got there through luck. It can affect anyone, no matter their social status, work background, skill level, or degree of expertise.
The concept originated in a 1978 journal article written by Georgia State University psychologists Pauline Rose Clance and Suzanne Imes, who immediately found a greater prevalence in high-achieving women.
Some of the common signs of imposter syndrome include:
If you think you might have imposter syndrome, ask yourself the following questions:
Dr. Valerie Young, an expert in imposter syndrome, has identified five different types of “imposters.”
Talk to people you trust about how you’re feeling, at home, with friends or at work. You could arrange a professional appraisal to speak to your manager about your feelings or speak to a colleague more informally. Other people may be able to reassure you and help you realise that your feelings of inadequacy are irrational. You may be surprised to find that they feel the same way about themselves too.
2. Recognise and deal with negative thoughts
Make a note of when you feel any self-doubt, inadequacy or other signs of imposter syndrome. Think about what led to these thoughts, what you were doing and who was there. Recognise that these are your feelings rather than actual facts – they’re not ‘real’. Try and take a step back and become more consciously aware of your thought process and reframe what you think.
3. Accept constructive criticism
People who experience imposter syndrome find it extremely difficult to take criticism on board and will often become defensive. A way to overcome this is to be prepared for the next time you may receive constructive criticism and think of what response you would give.
4. Be yourself
Try and stay focussed on measuring your own achievements, instead of comparing yourself to others write down your strengths and achievements. Think about how your qualifications, experience and expertise have led to where you are now. Keep a record of positive feedback from others, too read this back to yourself whenever you need a boost. Don’t compare yourself to others.
5. Celebrate your achievements
It is important to remind yourself of everything that you have achieved and celebrate these achievements.When things go well, praise yourself and challenge any negative thoughts. It’s all too easy to attribute success to others, or just to good luck. So, when someone gives you a compliment or praises you, accept and enjoy it.
6. Remember perfection does not exist
Nobody and nothing is perfect and if we accept our own imperfections and those of others, we will be a lot happier. Mistakes are a natural part of life and learning. If you’re not sure about something, ask for help, rather than beating yourself up for not knowing. Remind yourself that no one – and nothing – is perfect, and that everyone has a different perception of success and perfection. So, what you think of as failure or ‘not perfect’ may be a success, or perfect, to someone else with different goals.
As we all attempt to deal with the new normal, I hope this advice can help us do so in a positive and healthy manner.
Good luck everyone.
John joe McGinley Glassagh Consulting October 2021