Counselling for Overcoming the Impostor Syndrome
How often do you, or people you know have doubts about your ability, feel uncertain about important decisions in life – either professionally, or personally? Those feelings are the part of learning, growing up and taking risks. They come and go.
However, for some people those feelings tend to stay for longer and grow into a persistent state of anxiety and feeling ‘not good enough’ and in consequence to the conviction that they do not deserve to be there (in a job, or a social role), they don’t deserve their success and aren’t as good as others.
That conviction, accompanied by the feelings that they will be ‘found out’ at any moment and exposed to the world, is called “Impostor syndrome”.
The impostor syndrome phenomenon
Do you identify with the above description and are you exhausted feeling that way?
Are you an impostor?
There are some positive sides of being in this place:
The fact that you actually got yourself to the place that you can consider yourself an impostor, proves that:
- you have some essential abilities, that allow you to be there
- you possess a desire for achievement which is strong enough to counteract the fear of getting out of your comfort zone and being exposed
- you have an understanding of your limitations
Unfortunately those positive traits tend to be overshadowed with feelings that:
- other people are better than you, in comparison you are inadequate, therefore you have no right to be there
- you are the only person who feels that way, so you can’t let it be noticed, let alone talk about it.
Impostor Syndrome counselling can help overcome feeling like a fraud and not deserving of the success
I am not the right person for the job
One of the symptoms of impostor syndrome is the feeling of shame and isolation and an inability to share them with anybody, which in turn may exacerbate your worries.
Therapy offers a safe and confidential space to talk, without the fear of being exposed. Bringing your feelings of inadequacy and anxieties out offers an opportunity to actually examine them and see that:
- they might not be real – because actually you are not worse than anybody else, or that
- it is possible to overcome them – because therapy helps you to see your difficulties as manageable tasks rather than shapeless fears
- you are not alone – other people suffer from these fears too, and just like you, probably feel that they can’t tell anybody
- feeling that ‘you don’t know’ is not a sign of inadequacy but of a self-reflective and self-corrective mind
Bertrand Russel said it quite aptly
“The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt,”
Impostor syndrome may be rooted in your low levels of confidence, reinforced by constant comparisons with people around you, the so called ‘compare and despair’ game, and can be addressed in therapy – see counselling for self esteem
This job is not right for me
Sometimes the feelings of ‘being a fraud’, ‘out of place’, feeling that things don’t come as easily for you as for your peers, can be caused by being out of alignment with your natural preferences and strengths.
For example some people find it easier to remember dates and details, while others find those boring and prefer to look at more abstract issues, concepts and connections. Some are energised by last minute challenge whilst others take a lot of care to make sure that their work life is planned.
We are at our best and feel like things are flowing, if what we are doing in life is allowing us to use skills and talents that are our natural preferences. We may have a sense that even though we don’t know absolutely all the facts, we know what the right solution is – because it just feels right.
What feels like impostor syndrome may be simply a signal that your work life needs adjustments to give more voice to your natural strengths and abilities, and therapy will be a safe, confidential space to begin.