Okay, so it’s more than just perfectionism?
Imposter syndrome is different to perfectionism, confirms Lucy. “Perfectionism and being a workaholic can often be found in people who experience imposter syndrome. However, these traits certainly don’t mean you are experiencing the disorder.” Instead, she says it’s important to recognise that the key defining feature of imposter syndrome is being unable to accept your success is due to your own competence and then internalising this feeling of inadequacy.
If you think are you suffering from imposter syndrome, what can you do?
If imposter syndrome is getting in the way of your life and negatively impacting your mood, work or home life, or relationships, seeking help is a sensible idea, says Owen. “Imposter syndrome will always have underlying psychological processes that need attention to allow you to restructure new beliefs and patterns. Therapy will unquestionably help, particularly cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), which explores the relationship between how you think, feel and behave.” Lucy agrees, adding that therapy may typically involve the examination of the origins of the syndrome, how it affects you, the ways in which it is maintained, and then encouraging you to find new ways of thinking, feeling and believing. “Feelings are the last to change,” she stresses. “The only way to stop feeling like an imposter is to stop thinking like an imposter.”
When it comes to ways in which you can help yourself, Ian says it could be worth finding a mentor or coach to support you on your professional journey. “Developing a support network is crucial to overcoming imposter syndrome. Many people with imposter syndrome suffer in silence, which can lead to burnout and can cause them to avoid opportunities that come their way.”
Dr Lucy Viney is a clinical psychologist and co-founder of The Fitzrovia Psychology Clinic. Dr Ian Nnatu is based at Priory Hospital North London. Owen O’Kane’s book, Ten Times Happier, published by HQ-Harper Collins, is available to buy here.
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