The Impostor Syndrome, Feeling Like a Fraud

Impostor Syndrome: Understanding the Hidden Challenge

At the end of October, I have a presentation for a psychology site on YouTube. It will not be the first time first presentation. I have been on radio stations, newspapers, magazines, and television. Each time I do one of these things, I face the same dilemma. The dilemma is my fear that I do not know what I’m talking about and will make a fool of myself. Underlying this fear is the belief that I am a fraud, an impostor. At eighty years of age, I continue to confront the same insecurities. I accomplished a lot, but I continue to be plagued by self-doubt.

Impostor Syndrome is when people doubt their accomplishments and fear exposure as a fraud. People with Impostor Syndrome feel like frauds and believe they don’t deserve their success, even if there is evidence that they are competent.

The syndrome elicits complex emotions, such as guilt, fear, shame, and anxiety. It leads to chronic stress, burnout, decreased job satisfaction, and reduced self-confidence. Many high achievers end up in a ceaseless cycle of overwork as they try to keep up with a false image. Social media has made it easy for people to compare their achievements to others, amplifying Impostor Syndrome. People must face their self-doubt and differentiate between thoughts and reality television to manage it. Here are a few strategies to address making mistakes. It is essential for learning and can help to disprove negative beliefs and improve achievements.

  1. Connecting with others who feel the same way and seeking mentorship or professional help with coping mechanisms.
  2. Set realistic expectations and goals can help to overcome the fear of exposure as a ‘fraud gradually.’

The False Self

Those who struggle with believing they are frauds realize they are not being authentic with others. Instead of being their “authentic self,” they attempt to look good, please others, and avoid the pain of embarrassment if discovered. It is a distorted way of thinking. The distortion is believing they are presenting a false self. False self is a defense mechanism to protect oneself from emotional pain and rejection. It involves giving a version of oneself that is not authentic or genuine to gain acceptance or approval from others. 

There are various ways that people can create a false self. Examples include conforming to societal norms or adopting a more socially acceptable persona. However, relying too heavily on this false self often leads to feelings of emptiness and disconnection from one’s true self. The authentic self is the real version of you with no outside influences. It is about accepting yourself for who you are and being comfortable in your skin.

The Authentic Self

The authentic self is the most genuine version of oneself. It is the person who exists beyond societal expectations, peer pressure, and external influences. The authentic self is the individual in tune with their thoughts, feelings, and desires. The authentic self lives in ways that align with their values and beliefs. Being true to oneself and embracing the authentic self leads to a more fulfilling and meaningful life. Being true to oneself helps form deeper connections with others.

And I have those deeper connections. However, doubt haunts me when things like this presentation are available. It does not stop me from moving ahead. But I cannot get rid of the doubt. It’s like an itch that won’t go away.


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