How To Overcome Impostor Syndrome With Psychological Therapy

How to Overcome Impostor Syndrome with Psychological Therapy

When you have achieved an achievement, have you ever felt like you didn’t deserve it? That the rest of the people are wrong and you are not worth as much as they say? This is something that frequently happens to people who suffer from imposter syndrome.

This syndrome causes continuous discomfort and prevents us from feeling fulfilled and enjoying the successes achieved. It can manifest itself in all areas of life, although mostly in the workplace, and can be very limiting. Therefore, it is important that if you identify with the description, you try to overcome the problem.

You will most likely need professional help, because it is something difficult to overcome on your own. In this article we describe in more detail what it is and how to overcome imposter syndrome through psychological therapy.

What is imposter syndrome?

Imposter Syndrome is a psychological problem that prevents people from recognizing their own merits or personal worth, leading them to irrationally believe that they are a fraud and that they do not deserve anything of what they have achieved, without there being real evidence.

This implies dissatisfaction with all the successes achieved, either because they expected more from themselves or because they think it was thanks to chance or pure luck. In the same way, they magnify their mistakes and failures, being very critical of themselves. When faced with compliments from others, they tend to turn the comments around and try to fit them into their logic: “he says it out of pity”; “He tells me because he doesn’t know the truth.”

The syndrome usually appears in people who have low self-esteem and insecurity, who have been harshly criticized in their childhood and/or adolescence or had not stood out in the academic field, or who have lived experiences that have reduced their self-confidence. In general, they tend to be very perfectionist and self-demanding people.

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These people feel a constant fear that others will “discover” that they are not as capable as others think, as well as a feeling of guilt for “deceiving” the environment. This fear and guilt decrease motivation and self-confidence, and force them to act within limits in which they feel safe, which greatly limits life.

Both unpleasant emotions are very tiring and cause a lot of suffering and hopelessness. In addition, they can lead to other psychological problems if they persist, such as anxiety disorders, depression or Burnout Syndrome.

How can I overcome imposter syndrome through therapy?

Overcoming this syndrome is not a bed of roses. It involves a series of steps that require commitment, perseverance and effort. Therefore, we recommend that you ask for help from a specialist to guide you in overcoming imposter syndrome through therapy and make the path easier with support and professional experience. Here we leave you some tips that will help you start fighting this syndrome.

1. Recognize the syndrome and its characteristics

The first thing to overcome imposter syndrome through therapy is to accept that you have it. It can be difficult, since at first you may think that no, your fear of being discovered is completely rational and yes you are a fraud. But ask yourself: are you really a fraud? Do you not meet the expectations of who, of yourself? What does your environment tell you about your successes? Do you really think they would give you compliments if it were not true? what do they say?

In this article we have described its characteristics so that you know the syndrome and so you can check if you feel identified. Likewise, we continue to recommend that you go to a specialist to confirm it, and above all, not just stick with the label and do nothing. All diagnoses are given so that, based on knowledge of what is happening, we can begin to solve the problem.

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2. Test your beliefs

What has your latest success depended on, only luck? And what’s the worst that can happen if you make a mistake? We encourage you to be open and curious about your thoughts, and try to ask yourself questions about them and seek alternative answers to your beliefs. Also do experiments, as if you were a scientist who wants to test a hypothesis.

To do this, make a list of the negative thoughts you have related to the syndrome, and plan an action for each belief that tests its veracity. For example, make a deliberate mistake, make a small mistake to see if the consequence you fear really happens. Keep a field diary, that is, write down the conclusions you draw from each experiment and whether you were right or not.

3. Skip the limits of your fears and guilt

Fear and guilt are unpleasant emotions that can limit our lives. In general, all emotions serve a function, and fear in particular serves to avoid danger and guilt to tell us that we have done something wrong and we should not repeat it. If these emotions, however, are not adjusted to reality and you do not have a logical reason to feel them, they are not fulfilling their adaptive function.

Therefore, the best thing you can do is act, even though these emotions are present. Little by little, get out of your comfort zone, overcome the limits that emotions set for you and dare to make mistakes. Little by little, fear and guilt will decrease as you expand your limits of action and contradict your negative thoughts.

A good option by which you can begin to face these emotions is by opening yourself to your environment. You can tell them how you feel and what it’s hard for you to rationalize your successes and failures. If you are sincere, you will most likely make your feeling of deceiving them disappear, and thus reduce your fear of being discovered.

4. Accept your flaws and set realistic goals

Neither with the therapy nor with the article we want you to believe that you are a perfect person who does absolutely everything right. That is completely impossible: all people have defects and virtues. Stop and think about what your flaws really are, trying to stick to real facts and not to your perfectionism and excessive expectations.

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Once you identify them you can do three things. The first thing, accept that they are there and that you are like that. You don’t have to be perfect at everything you can allow yourself to have those defects and nothing fatal happens.

Second, set realistic goals knowing what your real defects and capabilities are. If you feel that it is difficult for you to get what you want, it is because you have set idealized goals, so lower your expectations and go little by little until you get where you want.

And third, you can look for a way to improve in the areas where you feel you are lacking. If it is important to you not to have those defects, you can always change and improve. In the same way, set goals and plans to make the defect smaller each time.

5. Accept your virtues and celebrate your successes

In the same way that we ask you to accept yourself as you are with your flaws, your virtues also come into this pack. Identify what they are, adjusting to reality and your own experience. Include, if possible, those virtues that people around you usually say as compliments.

Also recognize when you have achieved an achievement and when it has depended on your effort, ability and virtues. Analyze the situations well and you will see that this happens more often than you think and it is not that you are as successful by pure luck as you think. So take advantage and enjoy these achievements as you haven’t been able to in a long time, and even reward yourself with something you like (an outing with friends, a particularly delicious dinner, a game you like, a trip…).