Toxic Thoughts of a High Achiever: Do You Suffer From The Impostor Syndrome?

Am I smart enough? Did I really deserve this? Or am I just a fraud?

Do you ever feel like you’re just not smart enough?

As if everything you know, every piece of information in your brain is irrelevant and probably too common to be regarded as true wisdom? Ever constantly feel the pressure to live up to the expectations of your loved ones? Do you spend most of your time comparing your intelligence to other people and wading in a sea of your own insecurities?

Well, you’re not alone.

This kind of thinking isn’t just an indicator of your low self-esteem, it has a name and a cluster of symptoms, all that points towards an actual problem in your psychological pattern.

This is the impostor syndrome.

The first step to understanding is defining the problem at hand. The American Psychological Association defines it as a ‘very real and specific form of intellectual self-doubt. Impostor feelings are generally accompanied by anxiety and, often, depression.’ It is important to note that this thought pattern is common in high-achievers or those intellectually gifted; however, while we may assume that this ought to give the person suffering from it some form of reassurance, it should be noted that this does not help. The entire syndrome consists of feeling as if you’re not smart enough to fit into this particular category, in simple words, denial of suffering from impostor syndrome. Which not only makes it harder to address but the shame that the sufferers usually associate with it, often means that many are afraid to seek help or advice for it – a problem that just gets worse.

Here are some of the signs to look out for if you suspect you suffer from the impostor syndrome;

  • Fearing being exposed as a fraud.
  • Having been described as a perfectionist by people you know.
  • Overworking yourself to exhaustion.
  • Fearing failure till it interferes with everyday routine.
  • Focusing entirely on what you did wrong in your life.
  • Attributing your success to natural charm or beauty.
  • Fear of being confident in public.
  • Difficulty accepting compliments.

If you’re experiencing most of these on a regular basis or if these symptoms manifest themselves in anxious thoughts or depression, it is more than likely that you suffer from the syndrome.

The term was first coined by two, prominent psychologists, Pauline Rose Clance, Ph.D. and Suzanne Imes Ph.D. during the seventies. Although the impostor syndrome is not included in the Diagnostic Statistical Manual, it is recognized far and wide by psychologists as something that can adversely affect many people, all around the world. If you still doubt whether you’re actually suffering from this problem, an effective way to analyze yourself is to take the Clance Impostor Phenomenon Test online.

Don’t roll your eyes just yet! Pauline Rose Clance specifically designed the free, online test to serve as an objective measure to diagnose those who suffer from impostorism; taking this short quiz will give you an idea of whether or not you’re experiencing the impostor phenomenon.

Fortunately, there are many ways to eliminate this form of thinking, while seeking psychological help should be your first move, it’s equally helpful if you try to resolve the problem with a loved one, whoever you prefer. The important thing to know is that your intellect isn’t false or fake and you have gotten to this point in your life based entirely on your intelligence, hard work and dedication – don’t let your fear take that away from you.

References

http://www.apa.org/gradpsych/2013/11/fraud.aspx

http://impostortest.nickol.as/

http://nymag.com/scienceofus/2016/04/do-you-have-severe-impostor-syndrome.html

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