Imposter syndrome is a psychological term that refers to a heightened sense of self-doubt in a professional capacity, whether it be a job or a work task. Both men and women in any type of work can suffer from feeling like an impostor, as well as anxiety. High achievers are mainly noted for experiencing impostor syndrome, especially high achieving women. Understanding the psychological phenomenon and its relationship with anxiety can help those who suffer from it to finally break free.
If you feel like you don’t measure up at work or are undeserving of previous successes, you may have imposter syndrome. Other common symptoms are feeling like you won’t be able to meet the desired result, fearing that you won’t meet others’ expectations, or feelings of being a fraud.
Over time, as these feelings continue with each raise, new position, or work project, other mental health issues may develop too. For example, negative emotions can lead to anxiety in conjunction with imposter syndrome.
The Harm of Imposter Syndrome and Anxiety
While imposter syndrome may not affect the ability to get work done, it can cause a tremendous amount of stress and anxiety. It also can take significantly more time than usual to get a project done if you focus on making every detail perfect, out of fear of not meeting the high standards expected of you.
Over-preparation for the task at hand to avoid failure, for example, may be a characteristic of imposter syndrome. This feeling of control can help distract the mind from anxious thoughts temporarily, however, the mind then doubts any successes because of feelings of unworthiness, after the said task is done.
Then, following the activity, anxiety returns. This person now fears being found out for being a fraud. They also might start to worry about the next project to come.
Not seeking help for mental health conditions can intensify them over time. The worry and fear can become paralyzing.
How to Deal with Imposter Syndrome and Anxiety
Rather than keeping the feelings of inadequacy to yourself, reaching out to another person can be helpful. It could be a therapist, friend, family member, or someone else you trust.
Talking through your imposter feelings and anxiety can help put a name to them. Unfortunately, imposter syndrome and anxiety can be hard to recognize as you likely don’t attach these labels to your feelings.
You likely don’t realize that your feelings of self-doubt are overemphasized. Furthermore, you are likely less inclined to share your negative feelings with others versus positive ones, for fear of judgement.
However, reaching out to someone you trust and having a candid conversation can help put emotions into perspective and help you see how unfair you are to yourself. From there, you can begin to be kinder to yourself, acknowledging your accomplishments rather than saying they are only by luck or chance.
Also, remember you are allowed to make mistakes sometimes. Only through errors does learning come and living life fully can begin by letting go of anxious thoughts. Those who love you unconditionally will be there for you before and after those mistakes. Just as you are kind to them, be gentle to yourself as well.