IN A more simple definition, imposter syndrome is the feeling of being not deserving of the success that one is currently experiencing. Although not officially a clinical diagnosis yet, people with this syndrome tend to feel like their success is born out of luck or good timing -- and not of their own hard work, skill, and talent.
This feeling is common to people of different ages but especially so for people in their 20s. This could be felt by fresh graduates who are still in doubt of the skills they can offer in the real world and in a new job. This can also be seen on twenty somethings who just had a promotion or given bigger tasks at work.
Last Tuesday, August 24, we again invited the External Director of the Ateneo de Davao University’s Center of Psychological Extension and Research Services (Copers). Gabriel Sebastian N. Lizada, RPm shared insights about imposter syndrome and how it can actually be viewed in a positive way and can help with one’s own self-growth.
Here some of the points he discussed:
1. Competence > Confidence = Imposter syndrome
Imposter syndrome is a feeling by an individual kapag mas mababa ang kanilang confidence but mataas ang kanilang competence. So it’s the feeling that even though you know that you are competent enough, your confidence is not as high. May skills ang tao pero hindi lang siya ganun ka-confident in how to deliver it.
The opposite of this actually is what the Americans call the Armchair Quarterback Syndrome. Here, the person’s confidence exceeds their competence. Mas confident lang sila but in terms of skills, wala sila.
2. Imposter syndrome is not all bad
It makes us feel that we are not prepared. So when we are not prepared, the tendency for us is to overprepare. Looking up on the study on imposter syndrome, there was a study done wherein they looked at individual resident doctors who felt the imposter syndrome. The results showed that they were as competent in making diagnosis as individuals who did not feel the imposter syndrome. But apart from that, they’re easy to work with because they are more open.
Individuals who are experiencing imposter syndrome feel that they want everything to be checked. They’re not sure of what they’re doing. They need validation from others. They always look for feedback from immediate supervisors.
3. When is imposter syndrome unhealthy?
In general, when behaviors are affecting the person’s day-to-day activities -- physical, emotional, occupational, psychological -- these are signs that need intervention. To get the point across, anxiety is normal. Anxiety, to a certain extent, is healthy. But anxiety that’s beginning to affect your daily activity such as “I’m so nervous that I will decide to not get a job because I don’t like the feeling of being interviewed,” “I’m so anxious that I’m afraid to go out and just stay in my bed,” or “I’m so anxious of getting rejected that I will not even try dating.” These behaviors are starting to affect your day-to-day activities but a healthy dose of anxiety would allow you to prepare and self-improve.
If you or someone you know experiences unhealthy imposter syndrome, you can message the Facebook page of Psychological Extension and Research Services (COPERS) for an online counseling schedule. It’s okay to ask for help.
Watch the full video of this episode: