There are 5 Types of Anxious People Who Get Imposter Syndrome — Which 1 Are You?

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April 22, 2024 at 2:39AM UTC
Roughly 70 to 82 percent of people experience impostor syndrome at some point in their career, according to California-based clinical psychologist Kelifern Pomeranz, PsyD, CST.
Imposter syndrome, in simplest terms, is a psychological phenomenon when a person believes they aren’t as smart or as skilled as their peers. Sound like you, or do you know someone who experiences like this?
If so, it’s not abnormal. In fact, working from home is proven to increase imposter syndrome – another wonderful perk of this ongoing pandemic we are living in!

The anxiety link

Anxiety – a feeling we know all too well in a COVID world – is heavily present in those living with imposter syndrome. Workers tend to feel like their successes are all fake, due to luck rather than hard work.
They fear that they will be “found out” as an imposter. The syndrome isn’t linked to just the high-achieving co-worker; rather, it can affect anyone. A study in 2019 showed that a whopping 82% of people may experience imposter syndrome feelings.
Imposter syndrome has been around for quite some time, but why has being trapped at home, not being able to have in-person interaction at the office exacerbated it? (This is a slightly rhetorical question.)
However, it’s the reason that imposter syndrome has increased during the past year.  In a piece for Today, New York City-based psychologist and career coach, Lisa Orbé-Austin, says that whenever we face new stresses in our careers, we feel a certain pressure to perform.
“This situation we’re in has created a lot of high-stakes moments for people,” said Orbé-Austin. 

You’re not an imposter

As with any form of anxiety or phobia, we need to keep tools in our toolbox to manage it. The key word here is manage – we can’t just tell these thoughts to “go away,” but rather, find ways to talk ourselves down from the ledge.

One of the first steps to helping the imposter syndrome dissipate is to first realize the patterns of people who experience this. Imposter syndrome expert Valerie Young wrote about these patterns.

  1. The “perfectionist” will set unrealistic high expectations for themselves. For every step forward they make, they tend to focus more on the step they took back.
  2. The “expert” will try to know every single details before they begin a new project. Some will be too afraid to speak up or ask a question in a meeting or work in fear of looking ignorant.
  3. The “natural genius” will think they aren’t good enough if there is a concept they tend to struggle with. They believe they’re an imposter if they have an area they need to work harder at.
  4. “Soloists” feel like – you guessed it – they have to accomplish everything by themselves. Asking for help is a weakness.
  5. Lastly, the category of “supermen/women” push themselves harder to prove to colleagues they aren’t imposters. They aim to succeed in all aspects of life.

Reframe and observe

Reframing and non-reactivity can be applied to many areas of anxiety (anxious thoughts, negative opinions) and can be helpful when facing imposter syndrome thoughts. Observing your thoughts and not attaching emotion to them can help them leave more freely.
“Simply observing that thought as opposed to engaging it” may help with the thoughts, says psychologist Audrey Ervin. “We can help teach people to let go and more critically question those thoughts. I encourage clients to ask ‘Does that thought help or hinder me?’”
Reframing the way we think and challenging the thoughts – asking ‘where is the evidence in this?’ – can help us also not buy into our imposter syndrome.  
Remember to not judge your thoughts. Attaching negative emotion to them can make them bounce back even stronger. It’s important to remember: these thoughts are normal. While they can make you feel ‘crazy’ or upset, remember that they’re just a thought.
They aren’t the truth.
— Christy Burton
This article originally appeared on Ladders

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