How to know if you suffer from the impostor syndrome

Hello, my name is Olga and I am a fraud. I started college with 16, but not because I was gifted or something, it was a combination of circumstances. I never failed an exam, in fact I ended up with a very high average, 9.11 over 10. But it was because I have the face of an intelligent person and the teachers thought that I know more than I really knew. I have worked in three different countries and in all I have done quite well, I have had some professional success. But he simply managed to like the bosses. It is a bit surprising, because I have few social skills, many times I am clumsy in communication, I have a strange sense of humor and I go over the edge. Somehow I get to fool them all.

Now, for example, I have been asked to write an article about the imposter syndrome, as if he knew about it. I have read some articles and the cognitive biases, these little ones failures of our mind to which this syndrome belongs, I am very interested. But I am not an expert.

What is the impostor syndrome

According to the generally accepted definition, you have the impostor syndrome if you are unable to assume that your successes are yours. You always find a "guilty" outside: it has been luck, the questions were easy, the boss was not demanding, the public did not realize that on slide 28 there was a typo.

In addition, it is something like a vicious circle: As you know you're worthless, you become a perfectionist and try harder, so that they don't discover you. That makes you receive more compliments for your good work. Which leads to greater concern about being discovered.

Why do I use the feminine? Because, according to some studies, women are more affected by this syndrome. According to others, there are no differences by sex. But it seems that men find it harder to recognize their vulnerabilities. So in the end there are more women "impostors" recognized.

The impostor syndrome is quite common. Studies carried out in the '80s found that 2 out of 5 successful people have it. Moreover, 70% of the population has felt this way at some point in life. Among famous “imposters” are Emma Watson, Sheryl Sandberg or even Albert Einstein, who said, towards the end of his life, that the excessive consideration that people have for their work makes him feel uncomfortable.

It cannot be defined as a disorder something that has 70% of the population, therefore the impostor syndrome is not. Nor is it a personality trait, although there are people more likely to feel it. It is rather a pattern of behavior, a way to react to certain situations.

The impostor syndrome is fascinating, it makes you both insecure Y prepotent: "I'm useless, but I can fool them all."

What to do if you feel an impostor

I will not ask if you have ever felt like an impostor. Seeing the percentages, it is very likely.

But do we need to do something about it?

The impostor syndrome can have two possible consequences: perfectionism wave neglect. The first thing makes you try harder and more and more frustrated, by the effect of the vicious circle we are already talking about. The second happens when you convince yourself that people are not able to differentiate a good job from a bad one and stop trying hard. Your job gets worse and you get what you were looking for: the proof that you are useless.

Ok, so what do we do?

One of the usual recommendations is write a diary about your professional successes. Registering everything in writing you manage to sort your thoughts and emotions, which helps you to be more objective with what happens to you. Checking the diary after a while, when the emotional burden of an event has disappeared and your success has stopped frightening you, you realize that you know and can do much more than you think.

If you don't have a diary and you need urgent help with your inner impostor, just Review and update your CV. It's not the same, but it works for me.

Another good advice, easy to apply and with cumulative results, comes from an unusual source: an Argentine soap opera. In it, an old lady, rich and classy, ​​taught her servant, who later turned out to be her son's illegitimate daughter, that is, her granddaughter (she is a soap opera, I have warned), how to accept compliments: “Do not say that you are not really pretty or that the dress is a trapito. Just say thank you”.

When, upon receiving a compliment, instead of apologizing you begin to say "thank you", at first your mind continues to protest and saying that it is not so much. But little by little, in your effort to be consistent with what you say, your brain will get used to believe You deserve every compliment you receive.

So, the next time someone congratulates you on your work, do an exercise in humility. Accept the compliment. Dear imposter, just say "thank you".