By: Monica Jacob
“I attribute my achievements to luck and external factors… I fear I might not live up to my expectations… I get stuck in spirals of self-doubt… I always write off my success…
I have thoughts such as, ‘My accomplishments and ideas aren’t worthy of others’attention.’ ‘What gives me the right to be here?’ and, ‘I will be found out as a phony.’”
If all of this sounds eerily familiar, you might find solace in knowing that you’re not alone. The literary legend Maya Angelou, whose career culminated in numerous books, awards and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, once admitted, “Uh-oh, I’ve run a game on everybody and they’re going to find me out”. Even Einstein called himself ‘an involuntary swindler’ and Potter fans might recollect how Harry confesses that he’s always gotten lucky, had help from Dumbledore and his friends, and that he is not special.
This feeling of fraudulence is far more common than we think and is usually termed imposter syndrome. Although it might be accompanied by anxiety and depression, it isn’t necessarily tied to a mental illness. Contributing factors might include one’s personality, taking up a new role, family upbringing, perfectionism, early experiences, and social anxiety.
Okay, that’s great, now I know what it is called. But what can I do about it?
“No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.”
~ Eleanor Roosevelt
Article supplied with thanks to The Centre for Effective Living.
About the Author: Monica Jacob is a psychologist who seeks to collaboratively help her clients lead more meaningful, enriched lives. She has worked with mood disorders, anxiety disorders, substance use disorders, and adjustment difficulties.