I first heard about Imposter Syndrome when I attended a workshop, a life coach held, who spoke about his experience with a brutal boss who he later found out acted that way because she felt like a phony.
Recently I read an article about Kurt Cobain’s documentary: Montage of Heck and in the article it stated that shame was what made Kurt into who he was and that he suffered from Imposter Syndrome.
So what is this exactly?
“Impostor syndrome is a psychological phenomenon in which people are unable to internalize their accomplishments. Despite external evidence of their competence, those with the syndrome remain convinced that they are frauds and do not deserve the success they have achieved. Proof of success is dismissed as luck, timing, or as a result of deceiving others into thinking they are more intelligent and competent than they believe themselves to be. Notably, impostor syndrome is particularly common among high-achieving women” Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impostor_syndrome
It’s interesting that the definition above states that it’s particularly common in high achieving women. What is it about type A personality women that allows some of them to not really own their successes and accomplishments and to feel shame and like a fraud that they don’t belong in the board room, in the corner office, as a speaker at a high profile event etc. Could it be that right from the start we’re made to feel like we’re ‘less than’? That we don’t quite measure up to men. After all, in 2015 women still earn 70 cents on the dollar to what a man earns. That really our role is to reproduce and take care of our partners and pursuing a career is selfish. So when we do get the amazing career that we’ve worked so hard for, we feel a sense of shame that we don’t deserve it. That we faked our way to the top. This is a heavy, draining burden to live with. Even celebrity women suffer with this. Here are some quotes from some famous women who feel like phonies:
“The beauty of the impostor syndrome is you vacillate between extreme egomania and a complete feeling of: ‘I’m a fraud! Oh God, they’re on to me! I’m a fraud!’ So you just try to ride the egomania when it comes and enjoy it, and then slide through the idea of fraud.” – Tina Fey
“There are an awful lot of people out there who think I’m an expert. How do these people believe all this about me? I’m so much aware of all the things I don’t know.” Dr. Chan, Chief of the World Health Organization
“I still think people will find out that I’m really not very talented. I’m really not very good. It’s all been a big sham.” – Michelle Pfeifer
“Sometimes I wake up in the morning before going off to a shoot, and I think, I can’t do this. I’m a fraud.” – Kate Winslett
“I have written eleven books, but each time I think, ‘uh oh, they’re going to find out now. I’ve run a game on everybody, and they’re going to find me out.’ “ – Maya Angelou
Kyle Eschenroeder, http://startupbros.com/21-ways-overcome-impostor-syndrome/
The reality is, this is a phenomenon that many people suffer with especially women. The main thing is you need to recognize and realise what that feeling of shame feels like for you. When does it surface? What does it feel like in your body? What was the circumstance or scenario that preceded this feeling? What type of people bring about this feeling in you? Once you start to recognize what this is and the signs of shame you can start to make change. You need to be able call a thing a thing in order to move past it. For those who suffer with this syndrome, know that ultimately you are not a fraud or a phony and you deserve every bit of the success that you have achieved. Also know that you are not alone in this.