What Is Impostor Syndrome—and Is It Holding You Back at Work? Here's How to Beat It for Good
Ever feel like a fraud at work? You're not alone, says Valerie Young, the author of The Secret Thoughts of Successful Women ($25; amazon.com). You're probably experiencing a very common psychological phenomenon known as impostor syndrome.
You may have heard this phrase tossed around among your friends or colleagues, but what exactly is impostor syndrome? People with impostor syndrome typically live with a sense of anxiety, self-doubt, and insecurity, and are constantly paranoid someone will suddenly expose them as a fraud who should never have been hired—or trusted with X or Y responsibility—in the first place. Impostor syndrome occurs when someone is unable to internalize their skills, expertise, or achievements. (While impostor syndrome is extremely common in professional settings, it can manifest itself in lots of other places as well, for example, among parents, award-winners, even within groups of friends.) These people aren't just humble or shy; they often truly believe they're not deserving of praise, accomplishments, or positive recognition—even though it's completely untrue.
Sound like you? It's time to kick impostor syndrome in the you-know-what—because it's probably keeping you from going after cool new opportunities, taking necessary risks, and advocating for things you deserve (like that raise or promotion). It won't happen overnight, of course, but follow these five tools from Young to upend this detrimental mindset, beat the insecurity that's holding you back, and own your much-deserved achievements. (Impostor syndrome, who?)