Have you ever felt like no matter how well you perform your duties, you weren’t good enough on the job? Or that thought in your mind telling you that at any moment someone will catch you and point out your flaws? Or that feeling of being a total failure even though you knew you were capable of doing the work?
These feelings are all too familiar to professionals and high achievers. These professionals often ascribe their successes to dumb luck and often feel inadequate despite tangible evidence that they are capable, skilled, and even highly successful. The phenomenon that creates all this doubt is called Impostor Syndrome.
What is Impostor Syndrome?
Impostor Syndrome is the feeling that you are not good enough. It is intense self-doubt around your success. It can make you feel like you do not deserve your position. Or like a fraud waiting to get caught because your accomplishments are not valid or deserved.
The Imposter Syndrome was first identified in 1978 by psychologists Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes. This cruel syndrome permeates the workplace and affects mostly women.
This syndrome can act as an obstacle to career progression. Yet, the effects of this sinister syndrome can damage women professionally and personally. Doubt, fear, and stress caused by Impostor Syndrome can thwart your career trajectory and cause stagnation in your professional life.
The Reason Why So Many Women Experience Impostor Syndrome
Despite the global progress towards gender equality in the workplace and a growing number of female entrepreneurs, data shows that Impostor Syndrome is more prevalent in women. Some reasons for this are factors such as workplace inequality and the pay gap that exist in almost all industries.
Corporate culture exacerbates the problem of Impostor Syndrome for women. A study by Lean In, a US organization that focuses on women in the workplace, states that fewer women get hired and promoted to managerial positions. Its 2019 research shows that for every hundred men hired and elevated to managerial positions, only seventy-two women experience the same thing. Men hold 62% of manager-level positions, while women hold only 38%.
Conditions like these are major contributors to why women experience Impostor Syndrome at a higher rate than men despite evidence of their success. Impostor Syndrome can cause such paralyzing self-doubt that it can lead to anxiety, burnout, and increased unhappiness.
From Fear to Faith: Beating Impostor Syndrome
Even though so many professional women have experienced Impostor Syndrome, it is not a permanent condition. This syndrome is a reaction to a set of circumstances and unrealistic self-expectations.
Thankfully there are ways to tackle this phenomenon. One good way is to discuss it with trusted allies, rather than suffering in silence. Do not be afraid to admit you are struggling to people who believe in you and are supportive of you. Some other popular and helpful suggestions to combat this phenomenon include:
Know Your Worth: Believe that you are a skilled and qualified employee and accept your achievements. Allow your work to speak for itself and feel confident in your role at all times. Do not shy away from praise and compliments as these provide the reassurance you need that you are doing a good job.
Stop Doubting Yourself: Impostor Syndrome creates self-doubts, which in turn awakens self-defeating thoughts. Learn how to recognize these thoughts and replace them with positive affirmations. The only way to stop feeling like an imposter is to become confident in your abilities.
Do Not Seek Perfectionism: You are not a perfectionist! We all make mistakes, even the most skilled masters do. So stop believing that you have to excel at every part of your job as mistakes are part of the job and a key part of growth. Realize that you do not have to be good at everything all the time.
The Bottom Line
Impostor Syndrome affects high achieving females the most. So if you are struggling with this phenomenon, chances are you belong to a select group of successful women. That is also the only good thing about this syndrome.
Remember, when experiencing this phenomenon, it is crucial to silence your inner critic and look toward your strengths without over-focusing on the negatives. I have created a guide for career-driven women who need an instant motivation boost. Download my guide “New Rules For Executive Women Success” here now!
About the author: Dr. Madeline Ann Lewis is the President/CEO of the Executive Women’s Success Institute and creator of the online course “Crack the Career Code: How to Lead With Confidence, Charisma, and Credibility.” Website: www.exwsi.com; E-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.