I was chatting to a friend recently, who in reaction to a flippant and derogatory comment I made about myself, got us onto talking about Imposter Syndrome.
As something I haven’t pondered on for a while and at a time of year prime for developing self-awareness and seeking personal improvements/development, I thought it worth sharing, exploring and seeking the experiences of others.
So, what is Imposter Syndrome (IP)?
Perhaps these two examples will go some way to explain:
Actress Kate Winslet said; "[I would] wake up in the morning before going off to a shoot, and think, I can’t do this; I’m a fraud.”
And writer John Steinbeck wrote way back in 1938, “I am not a writer, I’ve been fooling myself and other people.”
The term IP itself was coined by two psychologists, Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes and came about from Clance’s personal experiences of feeling a professional fraud (when not one), and through her work with numerous students who were achieving great grades and successes but still struggling with similar feelings of inadequacy and fakery.
So, in short IP is feeling like a fraud or a fake when actually the opposite is true. This can emerge in a whole host of different types of people from those in the performing arts to students and all types of professionals.
Clance went onto develop the Clance Imposter Phenomenon Scale (CIPS) – which via a questionnaire based test you can determine where you sit.
Why not click here to take the test!
I found a great article in The Guardian by Fiona Buckland called 'Feeling like an imposter? You can escape this confidence-sapping syndrome'.
Buckland advocates that having the self-awareness to recognise your own IP can be the first step to self-belief and unblocking potential. Rather like the theory behind dealing with other self-limiting or addictive behaviours. Also, it is powerful to recognise several things; IP is a form of anxiety; our culture will impact on how powerful IP is: and many of us have the continued childhood need to fit in, which can lead to downplaying success and therefore increased potential for IP.
Some top tips to manage IP include:
- Recognise the symptoms as the fraudsters – not you!
- Label some of the inner conversations as characters – Buckland suggests ‘The Judge’ or ‘The Perfectionist’
- Challenge these characters – create some opposing internal characters for this, which you can build trust in such as ‘the inner leader’.
- Accept imperfection.
- Clarify and trust in who you are.
Do you suffer from IP?
How did you do in the IP test?
(Just for the record I’m in the ‘frequent’ category)
Can you share your personal strategies for dealing with IP?
Any other thoughts or comments on IP?
I look forward to hearing your thoughts.