We tend to judge ourselves more negatively than others would judge us to be. As a result we frequently struggle with feelings of extreme inferiority to those around us. Add in the curated messages we receive from social media outlets and it’s no wonder that we feel like we aren’t doing enough, aren’t as good as those around us, aren’t competent in our given professions, or aren’t worthy of having our accomplishments celebrated.
These sorts of feelings become problematic as we become more focused (See blog post entitled, “We Are What We Think”) on the negative parts of ourselves, or areas where we’ve determined ourselves to be deficient. As a result we actively block out, ignore, and dismiss any evidence that is contrary to the negative narrative we’ve adopted about ourselves. This is especially true for individuals that struggle with Impostor Syndrome. We are led to believe that others that we perceive to be “killing it” have high self-esteem, are confident, and believe themselves to be worthy of their success. However, research suggests that high achieving individuals are just as likely as the rest of us to suffer from crippling levels of self-doubt.
Personally, as a therapist that focuses on treating Impostor Syndrome, I have several clients that, based on their accomplishments, should have no reason to doubt their own abilities or dismiss their accomplishments as insignificant or the result of luck. I have clients that have built million-dollar businesses from the ground up, are leading experts in their given field, or have accomplished career successes uncommon to someone of their age. What they all share, despite their attained successes, is that they haven’t adopted ownership over those accomplishments. Meaning that those accomplishments do not enhance their perception of self, leading them to be confident in their abilities and have improved self-esteem. In fact, they serve to do the opposite, that is, they become more anxious about their ability to maintain their success and more critical of themselves as undeserving of that success.