I was making a video with my mother some weeks ago when we visited the zoo and she while talking referred me by my title and was singing my praise. One would have expected that having spent a number of years in school with so much hardwork and excellent results I'll drink in all of the praise. No. I interjected her and ended the recording. Not once has this happened.
I wouldn't call it humility because it wasn't.
I also feel a kind of way when people sing praises of my own family.
I haven't been able to explain it till a senior colleague of mine talked about how a firm who was hosting him to a program listed out his achievements and showed him to review, and he, not feeling worthy of it, erased them. They gave him a feedback saying, "you achieved all of this, you should be proud of it, it wasn't mere luck". While he explained this, someone replied him that what he just experienced is called IMPOSTOR SYNDROME.
I quickly went to look it up and discovered I might have been hit by it too.
WHAT IS IMPOSTOR SYNDROME?
According to Wikipedia definition, "Impostor syndrome (also known as impostor phenomenon, impostorism, fraud syndrome or the impostor experience) is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their skills, talents, or accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a 'fraud'".
People experiencing this phenomenon do not believe they are deserving of their accomplishments despite have concrete evidences of their hardwork and efforts.
Psychologists Suzanna Imes and Pauline Rose Clance first described the term in the 1970. Then, it was originally conceived to apply mostly to high-achieving women. However, recently, it has been recognized as more widely experienced as noted in current searches.
It has been estimated that nearly 70% of individuals will experience signs and symptoms of impostor phenomenon at least once in their lifetime. If you check well, you might have been in these shoes sometime.
SYMPTOMS OF IMPOSTOR SYNDROME
There are a couple of traits which describe this disorder and they include;
- Vehemently condemning or belittling one self
- Self Doubt
- Watering down one's achievements
- Setting unrealistic goals and crashing down mentally when not met.
- Attributing one's success to external factors, failing to acknowledge it to efforts.
- Overachieving or the thought to be doing so.
Clance explained in her 1985 that impostor phenomenon can be distinguished by the following six dimensions:
- The impostor cycle
- The need to be special or the best
- Characteristics of superman/superwoman
- Fear of failure
- Denial of ability and discounting praise
- Feeling fear and guilt about success
As sourced here.
For an individual to be considered to have experienced impostorism, at least two of these listed should be present. And the degree of each of the dimensions may vary.
Clance in her study found Impostor syndrome to be more prevalent in women. However, according to a review article published in the International Journal of Behavioral Science, it is found to be equally distributed and in at least 70% of the population.
There has been links with Impostor syndrome and some factors in some studies, such as family expectations, race, self esteem, excessive self monitoring, perfectionism, depression,anxiety and many more.
The feeling of high expectations from people can push them into over examining of self with emphasis on self worth and this can lead into feelings of fraud when achievements are made.
You'd think one naturally ought to be proud and boast in such things.
Is this a mental disorder? Categorically, no. But symptoms have shown to be related to depression, generalised anxiety and low self confidence.
HOW CAN IMPOSTOR SYNDROME BE RID OFF?
One may ask, who am I to be deserving of all these accolades?
The actual question should be, who are you not to be deserving of the accolades you've worked hard for?
Taking away self doubt, before embarking on any project eliminates the feeling of being an impostor to your own achievements.
Seek help from family and friends and from therapists, a group psychotherapy has proven to improve the condition.
Lastly, always speak positive words to yourself. Shut out that feeling that you deserve less than what you've got. Speak into your spirit and your soul and with time your life begin to align with your proclamations.
You are not a fraud. You are not a lesser being. Your skin color doesn't determine if you'd be great or not, so when you eventually are, don't let it make you feel non deserving.
You are human, not some sort of super power and humans are prone to make mistakes, it doesn't make one an absolute failure.
Reassure yourself or loved ones who may be experiencing this. YOU DESERVE ALL THE ACCOLADES!
Thank you for reading.