Imposter syndrome is a psychological phenomenon where an individual doubts their own abilities, talents, or accomplishments. They will have a persistent fear of being exposed as a fraud or “imposter.”
Despite external evidence of their competence, such as positive feedback or achievements gained, individuals with imposter syndrome may feel like they are undeserving of their success. They will put their success down to luck or other external factors rather than their own skills and hard work.
Imposter syndrome can affect people from all walks of life, but particularly high achievers or people in positions of authority. It can lead to feelings of anxiety, self-doubt, and low self-esteem, as well as perfectionism, overworking, or even self-sabotage.
People can end up turning to alcohol to help cope with these negative feelings. However alcohol will exacerbate the feelings of self-doubt and contribute to a sense of helplessness and despair.
I Think I Might Have Imposter Syndrome
Imposter syndrome can be a challenging experience, but there are several strategies you can use to help yourself overcome it. Here are some suggestions:
Recognise that you are not alone
Imposter syndrome is a common experience, and many people struggle with it, including successful individuals. Understanding that you are not alone in feeling this way can be reassuring and comforting.
Challenge your negative thoughts
Imposter syndrome is often fuelled by negative thoughts about yourself and your abilities. Try to identify these thoughts and challenge them with evidence that proves they are not true. For example, if you think you are not qualified for a job, remind yourself of your experience, education, and skills.
Embrace your strengths and accomplishments
Make a list of your strengths, achievements, and successes, and review it regularly. Celebrate your successes and acknowledge your accomplishments, no matter how small they may seem.
Talk to someone
Share your feelings with someone you trust, like a friend, family member, or therapist. Talking about your experiences can help you gain perspective and provide emotional support.
Accept that making mistakes is normal
Remember that everyone makes mistakes, and it’s a natural part of the learning process. Instead of focusing on your mistakes, try to learn from them and use them as an opportunity to grow.
Identify your triggers
Recognise the situations or people that trigger your feelings of inadequacy. Understanding your triggers can help you prepare for and manage these situations.
Set realistic goals
Achieve big goals by breaking them into smaller more achievable goals. Focus on the process of achieving these smaller goals rather than the big end result. This can help you build confidence and develop a more positive sense of self-worth.
Seek feedback from others to gain a more objective view of your performance. This can help you recognise your strengths and and build confidence in your abilities.
It’s important to note that imposter syndrome is not a mental disorder, but rather a pattern of thinking and behaviour. With therapy, self-reflection, and supportive relationships individuals can learn to recognise and challenge the negative thoughts and beliefs that contribute to imposter syndrome, and develop a more balanced and positive sense of self-worth.
How Can Sobriety Help Overcome Imposter Syndrome
Alcohol addiction and substance abuse can often be a coping mechanism for individuals with imposter syndrome, as they may turn to drugs or alcohol to numb their negative emotions or to feel more confident in social situations.
However, substance abuse can ultimately worsen imposter syndrome by causing more negative emotions, such as shame, guilt, and low self-esteem. Sobriety can help individuals break this cycle by providing them with the clarity and the focus needed to address the root causes of their imposter syndrome.
Sobriety can also provide individuals with a sense of accomplishment and self-mastery that can boost their confidence and reduce feelings of inadequacy. This can help them develop a more positive self-image and improve their overall mental health, which can further support their recovery and their ability to overcome imposter syndrome.
In addition, sobriety can also help individuals overcome imposter syndrome by providing them with a supportive community. Addiction can be an isolating experience that leads individuals to feel disconnected from others and from themselves. In recovery, individuals can connect with others who have experienced similar struggles and who can provide empathy, support, and guidance. This can help individuals feel less alone and more validated in their experiences, which can counteract the feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt that can worsen imposter syndrome.
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Celebrities Who Have Suffered With Imposter Syndrome
You are not alone. Yes there have been several famous people who have spoken publicly about their experiences with imposter syndrome, including:
The Oscar-winning actor Tom Hanks has talked about his struggle with imposter syndrome, saying, “No matter what we’ve done, there comes a point where you think, ‘How did I get here? When are they going to discover that I am, in fact, a fraud and take everything away from me?'”
The late poet and author Maya Angelou once said, “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.’”
The actor Ryan Reynolds has also spoken publicly about his struggles with imposter syndrome, saying that he’s “constantly certain that [he’s] going to be fired.” Despite his success in Hollywood, Reynolds has said that he often doubts his own abilities and feels like he’s not good enough.
Technology executive, philanthropist, writer and former Chief Operating Officer of Facebook you’d think Sheryl Sandberg couldn’t possibly suffer from feelings of imposter syndrome in her lifetime. However, in her book, “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead,” she wrote, “And every time I didn’t embarrass myself—or even excelled—I believed that I had fooled everyone yet again. One day soon, the jig would be up.”
Remember, imposter syndrome can be a challenging and deeply ingrained pattern of thinking. Be patient with yourself. With time and using the strategies above you can learn to overcome it and develop a more positive and confident sense of self.
If you are struggling then perhaps seek therapy or a mental health professional who specialises in imposter syndrome. They will be able to help you identify and challenge your negative self-talk and help you use strategies to cope and build self confidence.