Published in Oct 2020 / Updated in Aug 2021
Upbringing, stereotypes, and culture can play a role in creating "imposter" syndrome in people. These individuals believe that they have gotten as far as they have in life through luck.
Experts estimate that up to 70% of people have "imposter syndrome". That means the imposter syndrome is something of a phenomenon.
You will know you have "imposter syndrome" when you feel like a fraud, have fears that you might be discovered, or have problems accepting your successes. That’s what the imposter syndrome feels like. You might even pass up on a great promotion or sabotage yourself and your chances of success.
But what causes people to think less of their intelligence and abilities? What triggers this phenomenon? Let’s have a look at common causes of "imposter syndrome".
Many of us judge ourselves based on the relationships we have with others. We all dream of having great relationships, whether they be romantic or platonic.
For instance, after struggling to get into a romantic relationship for so long, some people have a problem believing that they finally found the love of their lives. Such individuals easily expect that they have to do plenty to prove themselves “worthy” of these relationships.
Usually, the effort to make the relationship a success works. But that is never enough for these folks. They expect more, and that means thinking less of what they have achieved up until that point.
All the time, these people assume they are not good enough, even when they are clearly more than enough.
Some people were brought up in environments where they were never appreciated or taught to take pride in their achievements. Such people end up feeling guilty over their achievements.
Many think that their peers are more deserving of the success they enjoy. Inevitably, such people feel like imposters.
Consequently, they assume a pattern of discounting their abilities without stopping to consider that they might actually have what it takes to achieve anything worthwhile.
Such people are often chasing validation by working harder or doing more than others. They feel that they have to be especially good to get acceptance from others.
Upbringing can also cause "imposter syndrome" in people who got too much praise.
When a child is made to believe that their abilities are far beyond anyone else’s, they will likely feel like failures simply because someone is as good as they are.
Too much praise and admiration can make someone feel like there is no one in the world as amazing, smart, or successful as they are, and that can bring a lot of issues. Performance is a huge deal for such people, and confidence dives as soon as realizing that a better level of performance is possible.
Who is more likely not to get satisfied with what they can achieve? Simple answer: perfectionists. These folks have unusually high expectations that they cannot meet.
Obviously, they fail a lot, and that increases their self-doubt.
So, they are completely taken aback when someone tells them how good they are or how much they have achieved. They feel they don’t deserve the praise because their expectations for themselves are much better.
Another problem with these folks is that they often control freaks. To their minds, nobody can do a better job than they can, which is why they tend to micromanage others.
So, if you have a problem delegating, or have unusually high expectations, and often have a desire to be completely perfect, chances are that you are a perfectionist with imposter syndrome.
Even when successful, these people feel like they could have done a better job. They push themselves too hard. This makes them feel like frauds despite the fact they have done plenty to deserve the praise and admiration they get.
The “Natural Genius” Mentality
Some people judge their abilities, not by the results of their work, but by the ease or intelligence with which they solve the problem. Such people believe that a task is only a success if done in a “genius” manner.
For this person, getting a straight-A is not enough. What’s praiseworthy is making this achievement by putting in less effort than others. If it took days of grueling revision to achieve the feat while someone else took only a few hours of preparation, they failed.
“Natural geniuses,” think a mistake is a failure, even if the outcome is a success. Even if this person finishes first, they will still feel inadequate unless the whole process was flawless. Consequently, the praise and recognition they get will not be very welcome either.
Think you have the imposter syndrome?
If you do, then there are ways to stop being a victim of this phenomenon. You can start by creating a better sense of what’s reasonable and what’s not.
If you consistently think overachievement is normal, then you will always think less of your successes. Even small successes are worth celebrating. Accept that.
Also know that sometimes it’s possible to reach your goals even if your methods were less than perfect.
Don’t struggle to outdo yourself or others. Have reasonable expectations, and create some room for failure. You can still move on and achieve all you ever aspired to attain in your life, even if you make a few mistakes along the way.