If you feel like a fraud for being successful, you might be suffering from Impostor Syndrome.

Impostor Syndrome and women: What is it and how to fight it?

Have you ever felt like your promotion had someone else’s name on it? Or the lucrative deal you cracked was nothing but a stroke of luck?

Almost 70% of people, at some point in time, suffer from the Impostor Syndrome, wherein they feel the success achieved is undeserved. They are often rigged with self-doubt, wondering if they’re good enough and if they’re worth the accolades. You’d be surprised to know that some of the most well-known people and top achievers go through this.

But first, what is Impostor Syndrome?

In 1978, clinical psychologists, Suzanne Imes and Pauline Clance coined the term Impostor Syndrome. It is the psychological pattern of internalised success-related self-doubts that individuals go through. People with this condition often live in the fear of being exposed as ‘frauds’.

Although this syndrome can affect anyone, it’s been observed that women are more prone to suffering from the Impostor Syndrome. Listen to any self-help podcast about being a boss lady and this question undoubtedly surfaces – ‘do you feel worthy of your achievements?’

From Meryl Steep, Tina Fey, Maya Angelou to Facebook’s Sheryl Sandburg, the top women attribute their success to temporary causes like luck to the one-off effort. Take, for instance, Justine Culler, the Editor-in-Chief of Elle, who has confessed to feeling intimidated around other mothers. While some women hold social dialogues around the matter, most women either dismissively circle around it or are completely unaware that such a pattern exists.

The self-deprecating nature of the syndrome doesn’t end on reaching the acme of success. If anything, it only worsens, making you feel like a bigger fraud. It is, therefore, important to take proactive efforts to rid this entrenched toxic psychological trait.

How to deal with Impostor Syndrome?

1. Go back to the roots

Unfortunately, for most women, the seeds of the Impostor Syndrome are often laid during the pre-pubescent stage. Offhanded negative comments and conspicuous gender roles may lead to doubting one's success. Also, inculcating a mindset where the idea of success revolves around excelling as a family woman may make them doubt their efforts when they succeed at their workplace. You must take proactive efforts to unravel such beliefs, calling them out for being detrimental. 

2. Open up

Internalising the fear for long makes it worse. Speak to a friend or seek professional help to deal with it. Open up about your thoughts and feelings to people who you are comfortable with. Keeping your negative thoughts to yourself is not a good idea. Seeking professional help right from the start would help you to deal with your problem better. 

3. Let bygones be bygones

Past failures don’t define you. You grow with every failed project or lost client. So, don’t let the bygones constantly bring you down.

4. Make a list of the whys

List down your qualities, skills, accomplishments, and praises received. So, whenever the negative self-talk creeps in, just open the draft and read through why you deserve everything you’ve achieved so far.

5. Reconsider the words you speak to yourself

Your words affect your mental and emotional health. Be kind and positive when speaking to yourself. Hype yourself up and be your biggest cheerleader.

The Impostor Syndrome isn’t just another ‘rich people’s problem’. If left unchecked, it can seriously hamper your self-confidence and self-esteem. Deal with it like a boss lady, because you deserve everything you’ve worked so hard for! Have a look at the offbeat career options for the modern woman and tackle the problem of the Impostor Syndrome head-on.