Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Look out for this syndrome

Have you ever felt that any successes you achieved were just a matter of luck? That it was only a matter of time before everyone discovered that you really didn't know as much as they thought you knew? And that sooner or later, others would realize you really shouldn't be in your position or shouldn't be paid what you are or were?

There's a name for this; it's called the Impostor Syndrome. A 2010 Forbes article outlined what the syndrome looked like in one high level executive's life. The article said in part: "Research that began in 1978 with the work of psychotherapists Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes found that many women with notable achievements also had high levels of self-doubt. This deep lack of confidence—which couldn’t be equated with anxiety or other disorders—appeared to involve a deep sense of inauthenticity and an inability to internalize their successes.

"These individuals often have the belief they are 'fooling' other people, 'faking it' or getting by because they have the right contacts or are just plain 'lucky.' Many hold a belief they’ll be exposed as frauds or fakes. Impostor Syndrome goes far beyond normal bouts of self-doubt."

If you feel this way sometimes or often, check your self-talk and your self-image. Try to change your inner messages. Learn to receive affirmation and compliments from others with a simple "Thanks"—and take them in. That's often difficult for us as women. We're better at giving than receiving, it seems. Remember, too, to be as kind to yourself as you are to others. Share thoughts about this with other women so you can help each other. Make a list of those things you do well, and keep it handy (I know, I know, it's far easier to list our supposed flaws than our talents or achievements—but try!). Believe in yourself—and others will believe in you, too!

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