Impostor Syndrome - the Solution

Nov 2023
Skrevet av:
John Petter Fagerhaug
She was on her way up the consultant ladder. The right age, dressed correctly, and utterly burned out and depressed. The perfect consultant had become the ultimate client, exhausted and on sick leave instead of being exposed.

"I'm afraid of being exposed," she said. The client sat in the chair across from me, anxious and fidgety. "I'm afraid they'll find out I'm not as good as they think I am," she continued, telling her story of how she felt like she was fooling her colleagues, walking on eggshells, and afraid of being exposed one day.

No matter what results she achieved, it didn't help. It got worse. The more skilled she was, the worse itbecame. Additionally, she believed that good results were luck, chance, or other external factors. It was never entirely her success. It never seemed good enough.

She never found peace.

The impostors

This was over 20 years ago, and I've heard it hundreds of times since - the fear of being exposed, never good enough, success is luck and not skill, difficulty accepting compliments, and the fear of making mistakes.

I have often thought about it without fully understanding it. I experience much of the phenomenon myself but have never really labelled it.

Suddenly, over 20 years later, a new client arrived. A new client, but in the same form and shape. Afraid of being exposed, never good enough, unable to accept compliments, and afraid of making mistakes. A genuine "impostor".

I suddenly understood it: They are fear-driven, not desire-driven.

"Impostors" are afraid. Not only of being exposed; or not being good enough, or not as skilled as others believe them to be. But also of what they may be exposed as and what they are hiding. They are also afraid of making mistakes, which canprevent them from starting and completing projects.

They are literally living in fear, and the fear is controlling them.

It's called Impostor Syndrome, and it turns out to be quite common among people who achieve more than they themselves perceive.

What is Impostor Syndrome?

• The person is afraid of being exposed for their perceived incompetence in their field or professional environment.

• Those who experience Impostor Syndrome are objectively intelligent, knowledgeable, and skilled enough to hold the positions and tasks they have.

• They may believe that they have achieved positions or success undeservedly or wrongly due to chance, luck, or false assumptions.

• Even with good results and recognition, they are constantly insecure and have an underlying fear ofbeing discovered as impostors.

Do you recognize yourself? Then you might be suffering from the mysterious "Impostor Syndrome," and you're not alone. Many people seem to struggle with this.

They are absolutely right

Much has been written about Impostor Syndrome, but many don't see the obvious: People who are struggling with Impostor Syndrome are absolutely right. They have something to hide, something that could be exposed. They carry something that must be concealed and fled from. Something inside them, something painful. They are afraid of being exposed for who they are.

I think we've been looking in the wrong direction. We're nurturing the wrong plant. Many think it's a performance-oriented phenomenon with far too high standards, and the solutions created are based on these factors. Solutions that don't always work and can even have the opposite effect.

If we got the explanations wrong, we also miss the solutions. We miss the understanding and actions.

From, not to

"Impostors" don't solve the problem; they run from it.

The core of the phenomenon is the escape, and the therapists assist. Because "impostors” master it all with more success and more skill, and therapists attempt to help with "positivity exercises" and various degrees of self-praise. Reducing demands andexpectations is also suggested with a simple Google search

But success and positivity help little, as "impostors" are not driven by a desire to achieve something.They are driven by the need to get away from something, and success becomes just another escape from the problem.

Many "impostors" actually know they are skilled, but it doesn't take away the painful feeling they're escaping from. They can think they are skilled, but they don't feel it.

For many, skill is the only solutionthey have, so "impostors" become even more skilled, even more afraid, while the solutions exacerbate the problem.

If you praise an "impostor," you may see it in their eyes - they don't smile.

The world's oldest psychological problem

Impostor Syndrome is not necessarily negative, although it can have many negative consequences, including fatigue, burnout, depression, and sickleave. Impostor Syndrome also leads to many positive results and consequences, including this article.

It's not a diagnosis or an illness that needs treatment. A problem is only a problem if it's a problem; ifyou live well with Impostor Syndrome and its consequences, then continue with it.

Impostor Syndrome is not a new phenomenon. It can possibly be traced back to the first book of the Bible, Genesis, where the serpent tempts Adam and Eve to eat the forbidden fruit so they can become like God - perfect and flawless, and then disolve the pain.

It doesn't go as planned. When they eat the apple, they discover they are naked, vulnerable, and must hide their nakedness.

"Impostors" have eaten the apple (achieved success), and hope it makes them Gods (perfect and flawless),and that the problem is solved. Yet they hide. When God finds the couple hiding behind a bush, he even asks, "why?"

There are many reasons "impostors" have something to escape from, and there are also many reasons they escape. What recurs in many of my clients' stories is painful emotions related to one or more experiences of not being good enough or recognized, or the feeling that something is wrong with them.

Episodes that linger and hurt. Something that has become too painful to confront and is relieved or repressed when something good is done. A repression that soothes but makes the pain worse. And as time goes by and successes accumulate, the small, painful ghost inside grows into a big monster.

For others, this process may have started in a small and tender moment they can't even remember. The causes can be many, but the principles are the same: "impostors" escape discomfort or pain through skill, flawlessness, and success.

The Solution

The simplest is not always the best, but it works, and the best solution I've found for Impostor Syndrome is simple in principle, somewhat challenging to implement but beneficial nonetheless.

Because when the fear of what's painful becomes the escape from what's painful, the logical solution is to confront the pain. Ghosts tend to disappear when you look them in the eye. Make peace with yourself. Accept yourself, your history, and process painful experiences. Unite the present and the past, pain and joy, major and minor. Unite yourself.

Things fall into place when you make peace with yourself, your own history, and your own experiences. The pain is processed, and you discover that there's nothing to hide anymore.

"Impostors" will find that what they were fleeing from may not have been so dangerous after all. It's only then that you break free from Impostor Syndrome and live a more relaxed life, with more focus onwhat you want to achieve. It's only then that you can create results based on desire and meaning.

And it's then that you realize that you don't need Impostor Syndrome, fear, pressure, and exhaustingp rocesses to achieve something. It's also then that you realize that you can be good enough.

It's only when you accept yourself exactly as you are that you become free from Impostor Syndrome.

Acceptance is magical, and in a battle between Impostor Syndrome and the magic of acceptance, Impostor Syndrome will always lose.

| Photo by Alexandru Zdrobău on Unsplash |

| Translated by Henriette Sletthagen |

Andre løsninger

Vanskelige kunder er gull verdt

Vanskelige kunder er gull verdt

Skrevet av:
John Petter Fagerhaug
Vanskelige kunder kan bli dine beste ambassadører - når du får snudd dem. Gjør kunden om til fans!. All kundebehandling handler om å få til positive følelsesmessige assosiasjoner hos kunden. Du selger følelser. Punktum
Se flere løsninger