Impostor Syndrome and How To Overcome It – Has there ever been a time in your life when you’ve accomplished something big, but felt like you didn’t deserve it? If you’ve ever felt this way, you’re not the only one. These feelings are known as impostor syndrome – also called impostor phenomenon. Impostor syndrome includes feeling a pervasive sense of self-doubt, fraudulence, or insecurity- even when you have overwhelming reasons not to feel this way.
It is most prominent after achieving something notable. This may include awards, public approval, promotions, or admissions to renowned schools. Research has found that approximately 70% of people experience feelings of impostor syndrome, at least once throughout their lifetime. Although it may seem black and white at first, there are different types of impostor syndrome, and they can affect everyone in different ways.
So what are they, and how do we overcome them? Let’s find out!
1. The Perfectionist
Perfectionists are individuals who tend to find something wrong with everything. It is extremely difficult for them to be satisfied with anything unless it is of the finest class or quality. Perfectionists typically set extremely high goals for themselves, and if they don’t achieve these goals, they descend into a downward spiral.
To determine IF YOU may be the perfectionist type, answer the following questions:
• Has anyone ever called you a micromanager?
• Is it difficult for you to consign or delegate? Or do you feel disappointed with the results of delegating when you do?
• If you’re late on a deadline, do you punish yourself for it, or think about it for long periods of time?
• Do you feel a need for your work or the work of others to be absolute, 100% perfect? If you answered “YES” to all of these questions, then you are the Perfectionist type.
As a perfectionist, it’s easy to feel like a failure when you hold yourself to consistently high standards. Not only do you hold yourself to these standards, but you assume that other people in your life do as well. Not to mention, perfectionists often force the same ideas to other people in their lives- even when it’s completely unrealistic to do so. It’s hard to change the perfectionist mindset, and it’s difficult NOT to beat yourself up if you can’t achieve the goals you set for yourself.
In addition, having this mindset could keep you from trying new things in life and making concrete steps to improve. One important thing you should always remember is that mistakes should be seen as learning opportunities, not situations to dwell on – because learning from our mistakes helps us grow. Everyone can strive to be better, but spending your time worrying about mistakes will prevent you from taking time to focus on other important things in life.
2. The Superhero
People with the Superhero mindset tend to lack inner confidence – which leads them with a need to overcompensate – in an attempt to fill that hole of inadequacy. Impostors who are workaholics, typically find themselves addicted to the attention and validation that comes from working so much – but not from the actual work itself.
You are a Superhero Impostor if you answer “YES” to the following questions:
• Do you find yourself working extra hours, even when you’ve completed your tasks for the day?
• Is it easy for you to become stressed when you’re not busy working on something?
• Have you ever sacrificed your personal hobbies or the things you care about, only to work more?
• Despite countless, respectable achievements, do you feel eager to continue working to prove how worthy you are to others? People with the Superhero mindset typically try to juggle multiple things at once – while trying to do everything well.
The answer to changing this mindset is straightforward: simply do less. Teach yourself how to delegate – and accept work that is ‘good enough. ’If you spend too much time seeking validation and achievement, you’ll waste more time in the process. Life is already moving at a particularly fast pace. So recognize your limits and set boundaries for yourself – and work on building your self-confidence. Learn how to go with the flow.
3. The Natural Genius
People with this type of impostor syndrome assume that the need to work hard for something means that they’re simply not good at it. They may be accustomed to getting what they want – without doing much for it. Surprisingly enough, natural geniuses and perfectionists have quite a few things in common – particularly that they both hold unreasonably high expectations for themselves.
Let’s see if this applies to you:
• Is it easy for you to excel without much effort?
• Did you get “straight A’s” or constant approval for everything you did in school?
• As a child, were you ever told you were the “smart one” in your family?
• Do you prefer handling things on your own, because you feel that having a mentor would just slow you down?
• If you face a setback, do you feel ashamed due to the fact that poor performance provokes negative feelings?
• Do you avoid new challenges because you’re afraid to try something that you know you aren’t great at?
If you answered “YES” to these questions, then you are the Natural Genius type. Individuals like this, feel like impostors when they can’t seem to get the hang of something immediately – and this can really hinder development. You feel like you have the ability to get through anything, so you create unreasonable goals for yourself. If you do need to learn something new, you believe that it should be effortless.
With this mindset, you often think that you should be further ahead in life than you are. Thus, if you start something new and there are challenges getting through it, you assume the problem is with you, and not the limited time frames you have set for yourself. You aim to be an overnight success, and if there are any setbacks in your plans, you immediately feel a drop in your confidence.
As a result, you feel that it’s easier to avoid risks altogether, rather than taking one and potentially failing. You may feel as if you’re seeing things in black and white: you are either good at something or you’re not. It’s important to understand, that there is a fine line between aiming for great things and setting yourself up to fail. Having remarkable talent and skill is nice, but you cannot accomplish anything in life unless you put in the work that is required. It is important not to underestimate yourself, but it’s just as important not to overestimate yourself, as well.
4. The Rugged Individualist
At times, things can become too much for one person to handle. When things get out of hand, most people will turn to others for assistance – but the rugged individualist is convinced that they don’t need help from anybody else. They believe that asking others for help is a sign of weakness, or they may have a compulsive need to be individualistic.
This tends to keep them away from the outside world – and everybody else in it. You’re a Rugged Individualist Impostor if you answer “YES” to the following questions:
• Do you strongly feel that you should accomplish things on your own?
• Does the phrase “I don’t need anybody’s help” apply to you?
• Do you frame requests in terms of requirements, and not as your needs as a person?
For a rugged individualist, if anything from an accomplishment, idea, or project is associated with another person, then it’s not an accomplishment at all. You are often unwilling to ask for help, even when you know that the work needed to complete a project is unreasonable for you to do alone. While doing things on your own may feel wonderful, not everything can be accomplished without the help of others.
There may come a time when you find yourself backed against a wall, and you’ll realize that you need help. Try reminding yourself that asking for help is not a sign of weakness, but a sign that you know your limits. Everybody has room to grow and improve themselves – and recognizing when you need help is something that other people can definitely appreciate. It’s unhealthy to go about doing everything on your own, and you will see a major difference when you start asking for help when you need it.
5. The Expert
Someone with this mindset may feel as if they are constantly putting others in a state of deception – by letting on more than they really know. Even if they do have the knowledge to go along with what they’re doing, they feel as if they don’t – and they’re also scared that others will find out.
It is easy for this type of person to feel incompetent or inexperienced. They often share similar traits with the Individualist – particularly because they too have trouble asking others for help when they need it. Although they may have the same fears of appearing weak, they operate in completely different ways.
If you want to determine if this applies to you, think about the following questions:
• Do you avoid applying for jobs if you don’t meet every requirement asked for?
• Do you seek constant certification to improve your skills in order to obtain success?
• Despite having a particular role for a long time, do you feel as if you still don’t know “enough”?
• Is it hard not to shudder when you are called an “expert?” If you answered “YES” to these questions, then you are the Expert type.
This mindset may drive you to obtain as much knowledge as you can, in the least amount of time possible. Women, particularly, suffer from this type of impostor syndrome the most. They may assume that there is a certain amount of knowledge needed to gain success or consider themselves truly skilled.
The expert type doesn’t believe in learning as you go – although, in today’s modern society, you can become an “expert” at many things – without formal training. One of the greatest things about life is that it presents you with ample opportunities- and each one has a new lesson to teach. Recognize what you already know – and what your strengths and weaknesses are.
Learn how you can improve certain aspects of your life to become a better you – and be open to new experiences. Also, remember that there is no shame in asking others for help, so don’t avoid assistance in situations that could help you grow. You may see yourself as one or more of these different types of Impostors.
On the bright side, now you can recognize your ‘habits and thoughts’ that cause you to feel the particular feelings of Impostor Syndrome. You cannot overcome these thoughts unless you recognize them for what they are, and work on countering them with these suggestions. When it comes to identifying and overcoming impostor syndrome, introspection and reflection will become your greatest tools.
Talking to others and taking personality assessments can be helpful as well. The better you understand yourself, the better equipped you will be to conquer those negative thoughts in your head. Do you ever feel like an impostor? Which of these 5 types of imposter syndrome can you relate with the most? Let us know in the comments below.