There is a very healthy voice inside most of us that tells us to check for typos before we send out an email. That same voice inside our heads will allow the very successful athlete to enjoy that moment of success and directly after that return to practicing and the understanding that success is the result of effort. That voice will turn the disappointment over a missed opportunity into the motivation to try again, better this time.
That same voice can also turn unhealthy and toxic. That unhealthy voice comes in many forms and one of them is imposter syndrome. That never ending anxiety that whatever you do is not enough, and whatever anyone else might see as positive in you does not connect in anyway to how you see yourself.
Some of us with imposter syndrome are seen as overachievers, others are seen as insecure or even as having an inferiority complex. And all of that is a little bit true and yet none of it is fully true. Yes, there is this sense of being inferior for the tasks you have or the things that are expected from you. Yes, you do much more than is required just because you are convinced that it can never ever be enough what you have done. And there isn’t a single moment where you do not doubt yourself.
But still imposter syndrome isn’t either of these issues or just the combination of them. It is an issue of its own and needs to be understood and accepted as such, especially by the individuals who are dealing with imposter syndrome. All of it, not just parts of it. Because if we would just focus on overachieving, insecurities, the sense of inferiority, we would miss the most important challenge of imposter syndrome. The perpetual state of anxiety!
The self-inflected stress that never ends has the biggest impact on people dealing with imposter syndrome. Over time it will reach such destress that you will start avoiding what you would want to do and only focus on what you feel you must do. Another side effect is that most people who are dealing with imposter syndrome for a longer period tend to surround themselves with people who confirm all the triggers for anxiety. All the triggers for insecurity. All the triggers for believing that whatever you do, it is never ever good enough and you always should have done more. All the triggers for the growing sense of inferiority. All the triggers for the never-ending anxiety.
And here is the thing that makes imposter syndrome so difficult to recognize for outsiders. We become very good at not showing our anxiety to the outside. We show up anyway, no matter how we feel inside. We do the things we are expected to do, despite being in a state of general alert without interruptions. And we never ever show up unprepared.
It is all the other things in life that suffer because our anxiety over failing in what must be done take up all our time, all our energy. So, we become labelled as workaholics who tend to avoid conflicts. And because we spend so much time preparing, we get the label of being lone wolfs who still somehow function in a team.
When you feel that you are dealing with imposter syndrome, please reach out to one of the many experts who can help you. Don’t let this eat you from the inside, because it will unless you cut the ties with whatever it is that has caused your imposter syndrome.
Recommended reading by my dear friend Dr. Melissa Sassi, who on a blessed day reached out to me and encouraged me to start working on that toxic voice inside my mind: