While we might not know it, that doesn’t stop us from hearing it more than once. It often happens that, both in our workplace and in our studies, it sometimes gives us the impression that we are not worth it, that our colleagues are much more competent than us, and that we are even crooks. involuntary -ho.
This phenomenon is called impostor syndrome, a psychological condition that makes us unable to recognize our own success, believing that what is good for us is due to external factors and that we are just people full of flaws and failures. disabilities.
Given its definition, it can be assumed that this particular phenomenon has very negative consequences in the workplace. Therefore, we will see below how professionally it limits us to the impostor syndrome.
What is impostor syndrome?
Impostor syndrome is a psychological process by which the person who develops it does not recognize their own success at a professional level. Those who suffer from it constantly feel that they don’t deserve any of the accolades or triumphs derived from their work, constantly living with the feeling of not being worth it, of being an impostor and of deceiving their surroundings. They are not in a position to assess their own merits.
The impostor syndrome has been widely studied since its conceptualization in 1978. Quite a few people suffer from it, and in fact we can cite well-known personalities who admit to having suffered from it before. Actress Kate Winslet, singer Jennifer Lopez and astronaut Neil Armstrong, all well known people, say that on several occasions they saw themselves as fraudsters and did not deserve success.
This psychological phenomenon is believed to affect 70% of people at some point in their lives., especially in women, and some experts often associate it with perfectionist traits at pathological levels. People who suffer from it suffer from a persistent fear of being “discovered” as some sort of work impostor. The funny thing is that this happens mostly in people with very high job performance and in positions of great responsibility.
This feeling of being a fraudster can be very blocking, so much so that it becomes a barrier that prevents it from continuing to develop in the workplace. Most people who experience this psychological phenomenon have limited careers, have lower wages, receive fewer promotions than their peers with similar abilities and experiences, and have more difficulty finding new jobs.
It often happens that people are aware of our own faults, but we do not see those of others.. Because we only see their strengths, it gives us the impression that our colleagues are better prepared than us. It can make us feel that in some people there is simply no such thing as failure. However, you should know that the professional success that we see in others is only the tip of the iceberg, and that the submerged part is made up of disappointments and failures that did not prevent them from moving forward. .
How does this limit us at work?
Impostor Syndrome can affect workers in several ways, which we’ll discuss in more detail below:
1. Anxiety due to high demands on oneself
One of the main causes of impostor syndrome is having too much perfectionism. People who are too demanding they are never satisfied with the end result of their projects, so much so that they can review them and redo them over and over again..
The feelings he has for his job are frustrating and pessimistic, believing that what he has done is worthless and, therefore, rejects any flattery that can be done to him in his workplace. Additionally, this high level of perfectionism can lead to a lot of anxiety and stress, emotions that can negatively impact professional practice.
2. Low self-esteem
People who suffer from impostor syndrome have very low self-esteem. These people can be very attentive to the work of others, constantly compare themselves to their peers, and pay close attention to aspects that, no matter how insignificant, have not worked well and which others are succeeding. This constant comparison is often fueled by the underlying belief that others deserve their successes..
If their self-esteem is already low, it is further reduced when people with impostor syndrome view the world in a very biased way. They see themselves as people full of flaws, while they see others as people who are successful because of their virtues and strengths, which further fuels the idea that they are a complete fraud.
3. Dysfunctional attribution
Attribution is the psychological process by which we attribute our successes and also our failures to different causes, internal or external, i.e. to ourselves or to an external element, on which we usually have no direct control. People with impostor syndrome attribute their success to external factors, such as luck, environmental circumstances, or another person’s actions, rather than seeing success and achievement as the result of their own work, dedication and skills.
This way of thinking will eventually affect you severely psychologically and emotionally., making the person with the syndrome feel depressed when they perceive that the good that is happening to them is the product of factors over which they have no control, and that the harm that is happening to them is their fault. This further fuels the fear that others will “find out” that all he has been able to accomplish is for what he believes is luck.
4. Psychological rumination
Psychological rumination is the phenomenon that occurs when you cannot stop transforming the same problem or idea into negative, causing anxiety and distress due to both its negative content and the loss of control over it. thought, not being able to stop it. This situation can be so serious that the person is obsessed and cannot abandon this recurring idea, wasting hours and hours in thinking about it constantly, and especially suffers from it.
Ruminating is precisely one of the ways impostor syndrome affects us at work. If so, the thoughts of ruminating are often related to the idea of not being good at your job, not deserving any success that you have had, or believing that others are better and that you are consistently better off. judge.
5. Lack of assertiveness
When we talk about assertiveness we mean the ability to express opinions, emotions, ideas and interests in a forceful, direct but also respectful way with others. People tend to be more assertive when their self-esteem is higher, as well as when they have a positive image of themselves.
In contrast, people with low self-esteem and perceived to be less effective, such as those with impostor syndrome, tend to be less assertive when it comes to giving their point of view. or to share their feelings.
6. Social isolation
Impostor syndrome affects social relationships because of the people who suffer from it interpret praise and demonstrations of professional recognition in a negative light, as if they were teasing or lying.
This can cause those who suffer from this psychological condition to isolate themselves from others, unwilling to interact with their colleagues by interpreting any interaction with them as a possible threat. They also avoid taking them to company-organized social events, such as dinners or excursions with colleagues.
7. Hold on to the comfort zone
Those who are trapped in this syndrome they avoid challenges and do not go out of their comfort zone. In fact, this type of behavior is a fairly reliable indicator that you are suffering from impostor syndrome, as one of its most notable characteristics is the fear of failure, something considered inevitable when the task at hand is new and when ‘we don’t believe it. do not have the knowledge or experience to do it correctly.
Because of this, people with impostor syndrome are reluctant to take on new responsibilities, try new things in their workplace, or compete for promotions or promotions. Thus, we can say that impostor syndrome affects us by making us reject opportunities for growth and improvement.
8. Lack of motivation
Another way that impostor syndrome affects us is by motivating ourselves. Believing that you don’t deserve a job or that it will last a short time can make you lose the urge to strive or grow as a professional. The person believes that the success they can have at work is not within reach, he therefore loses the desire and interest to expand his skills and knowledge.
Impostor Syndrome Almost Certainly Leads To Insecurity. This relates to all the aspects that we have seen so far, consisting in considering that the work which one is doing is not of sufficient quality. On top of that, the feeling that things will be done wrong because of insecurity makes them do wrong, given the phenomenon of self-fulfilling prophecy.
In other words, thinking that it is not worth what he does, even if it is worth it, results in a poorer quality of work due to the lack of motivation and the feeling of not being worth it. .
- Sakulku, J. (2011). The phenomenon of the impostor. The Journal of Behavioral Science, 6 (1): p. 75 – 97.
- Langford, J. and Clance, PR (1993). The impostor phenomenon: recent research findings on family dynamics, personality, and patterns and their implications for treatment. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training, 30 (3): pp. 495 – 501.
- Clance, PR and Imes, SA (1978). The imposing phenomenon in successful women: dynamics and therapeutic intervention. Psychotherapy: theory, research and practice, 15 (3): p. 241 – 247.