Impostor Syndrome - Hypnotherapy in Ely & Newmarket

Recently I've been working with a number of people who, as part of their self-doubt, anxiety and stress, are struggling with imposter syndrome.

Impostor syndrome leads to you feeling like a bit of a fraud in what you are doing at work or another aspect of life, like at some point you expect to get found out and that others will finally discover that you aren't up to the job and that you've somehow just been getting away with things. You doubt your own skills, capabilities, accomplishments and achievements and you live with a fear of being found out. 

Now, this worry, self-doubt and fear will continue even where you can point to a long list of achievements. You may put your successes down to luck or chance, or that others didn't notice the flaws in what you did (which can contribute to elements of perfectionism). When you receive positive feedback you probably don't internalise it and feel good, but rather think it's well-meaning but false. 

And, of course, the more you achieve and the greater your responsibilities, the more there is to lose and the greater your fear of failure and of being uncovered for the fraud you think you really are.  

No matter what positive feedback comes your way, how well others may say you do or how objectively visible your accomplishements are, that perception that you aren't as good as they think lingers on. It leads to self-criticism, putting pressure on yourself, fear of failure, perfectionism, anxiety, fear and doubt. 

By it's very definition it's a false perception of your own skills and capabilities. No matter how much praise you receive or how well things go, it doesn't stop that feeling of fear of failure and the fear of exposure as a fraud.    

Impostor syndrome hypnotherapy ely 

Impostor Syndrome and Positive Feedback

Impostor syndrome then is, therefore, a false perception of your own capability. You discount what you do positively and elevate perceived negatives. It's a kind of cognitive distortion where negative evaluations towards yourself and of what you do are readily accepted, whilst positive feedback and successes are discounted. No matter what you achieve, and how successful your performance at something, you continue to doubt yourself and to put it all down to luck and chance.

This tendancy was highlighted in a recent study. In the study, (Brauer and Proyer, 2022), participants took part in numerical and verbal intelligence tasks. They were then given positive feedback irrespective of their actual performance in the tasks. As expected, people with impostor syndrome discounted their successes and attributed their performance to chance and luck. In their perception of their performance they dismissed their own ability or other internal contributors to their reported positive performance and put it down to luck and chance.

Now, relying on external luck and chance for things to go well is naturally not a fair assessment of your strengths, skills, capabilities and achievements. We all have things we are good at, as well as those where we could improve or that we deem to be weaknesses. Not recognising and valuing what you do well and perceptions of not being as good as others think, can contribute to symptoms of depression, anxiety and low self-worth. It can contribute to perfectionism, overwork and burnout.

It's also kind of unfair towards yourself to think this way and to dismiss your positive qualities and capabilities. And you probably don't apply the same mindset and thinking pattern in your perceptions and expectations of others and what they do. It's arguably also a little unfair to just dismiss well-intentioned and honest positive feedback from others where they are offering you genuine praise for something you've done or achieved.

When I work with people to tackle impostor syndrome, they learn how to be more balanced, objective, fair and accurate in their assessments of their own performance and achievements. They learn to feel more comfortable in their own skin and to be free of that old fear of being found out. It makes for feeling happier, calmer and more positive in your interactions with others, as well as in the things that go on inside of your own head. You stop feeling like you are an imposter and start feeling good just being you.

To your happiness,

Dan Regan

Hypnotherapy in Ely & Newmarket

 

Struggling with your anxiety, low self-esteem or impostor syndrome and need some expert help to learn how to overcome it? Book your Complimentary Hypnotherapy Strategy Session with me now: Appointments

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Reference: 

Brauer, K. and Proyer, R.T., 2022. The Impostor Phenomenon and causal attributions of positive feedback on intelligence tests. Personality and Individual Differences194, p.111663.