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Dealing with Imposter Syndrome - The Wordsmith's Forge — LiveJournal
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
ysabetwordsmith
ysabetwordsmith
Dealing with Imposter Syndrome
Here's a good piece about imposter syndrome, which is the feeling of being fake, particularly feeling that you don't really deserve your professional position and will eventually be found out as a fraud.


There are various aspects of this problem ...

1) Not liking yourself, not respecting yourself, having low self-compassion. If you don't think much of yourself, then other people might not either. This is a gap in self-skills. Everyone needs to develop a solid foundation of self-love and ownkindness, or nothing else is going to help. You fix this by developing those intrapersonal techniques.

2) Having a skewed sense of experiences, skills, and accomplishments. You might be comparing your beginning to someone else's middle, or just generally comparing yourself to the masters of the field. Maybe you're belittling and devaluing your own work. This is the realm of cognitive distortions. You fix this by applying logic and objectivity. Keep a record of what you do and any accolades you earn. This is good not just for straightening out your head, but for proof of your professional aptitude in case somebody tries to mess with you or you need it for an application.

3) Living in a society that just plain picks on people. Maybe you're worrying about discrimination in the workplace; i.e. if you are female in a male-dominated field or brown in a sea of fair skin. Somebody might be gaslighting, harassing, bullying, or otherwise psychologically abusing you. This is a lot harder to fix because it involves other people. If you are being attacked or undermined at work or in your field, check for any policies about harassment or abuse. But really, society is pretty supportive of people ripping each other to bits as long as there's no blood showing. (Ignore the yawping about "oh no we aren't" and look at the actual rates of child, domestic, and workplace abuse.) So you might also want to learn verbal self-defense, study nonviolence, stop bullying, and work on making the world a better place.


Some things people can do to help others with imposter syndrome ...

1) Model and teach good social skills, both interpersonal and intrapersonal. Most of this whole mess is a skill-dearth issue of some kind.

2) Interrupt bullying, abuse, discrimination, and other malicious behavior. This is your society too; it doesn't just belong to the assholes. Let them know you don't want them setting the standards. Listen for negative self-talk from friends; you can deal with it much the way you deal with your own negative self-talk, and change it to positive.

3) Validate, encourage, empower, support, and generally help other people. Human beings need each other, and need strong connections, in order to be healthy and productive. Tell folks what you like about their work. Thank them for their help. Create and share opportunities. Build a social support network.

4) Learn to center yourself.  When you are centered, you are completely yourself, knowing who and what you are, where you end and the world begins; and your power can flow smoothly throughout.  It is much harder for other people to push you around in this state.  It is easier for you to be accurate and honest with yourself.

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fayanora From: fayanora Date: October 21st, 2013 02:13 am (UTC) (Link)
Like Jake in Adventure Time says, "Sucking at something is the first step to being really good at something."
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: October 21st, 2013 02:25 am (UTC) (Link)

*laugh*

Often true.
nimitzbrood From: nimitzbrood Date: October 21st, 2013 04:58 am (UTC) (Link)
I have had this for as long as I remember. I just got a performance bonus at work when nobody else did.

But I'm sure I'll have to give it back. ;-)

Neil Gaman spoke about this in his one speech - the "make good art" one - and I almost choked because I have extremely similar thoughts all the time.

I'm positive that work will toss me out the door if I don't constantly overachieve. And that's just not true. I have to do my job and I have to do it well because that's what's required. But in the end they aren't going to just walk up and toss me because I'm "not really what I claim I am". Hell the opposite is true. They picked me over other people despite me downplaying myself. Then they acknowledged every positive action I made from the begging on.

It's a hard thing to fight. It's the reason I have a hard time writing and end up re-writing a lot of my stuff and thus never finishing it among other things. Not to mention all the other tasks and projects I have in progress.

It's just so difficult to believe that I'm good at anything - especially when I make a mistake. It just seems to ram the point home. :-/
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: October 21st, 2013 05:05 am (UTC) (Link)

*hugs*

>> I have had this for as long as I remember. <<

I'm sorry to hear that.

>> It's a hard thing to fight. <<

It really is. This is why I posted tools for dealing with it. Oh, and I forgot one, need to go add centering.

>> It's the reason I have a hard time writing and end up re-writing a lot of my stuff and thus never finishing it among other things. <<

I find your blog comments to be very astute.
nimitzbrood From: nimitzbrood Date: October 22nd, 2013 10:09 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: *hugs*

>> It's a hard thing to fight. <<

>>>It really is. This is why I posted tools for dealing with it. Oh, and I forgot one, need to go add centering.

I need to meditate more and frankly better. I've been waffling on spending the $60 for a Bluetooth heart monitor and the app Buddha Mind to do some biofeedback. I figure things would be a lot better if I could quiet some of the noise in my head.


>> It's the reason I have a hard time writing and end up re-writing a lot of my stuff and thus never finishing it among other things. <<

>>>I find your blog comments to be very astute.

Thank you. :-) What you don't see often though is how many times I use the backspace key and re-write. It takes me forever to send an important email. Especially if emotional content is involved. While face to face I've gotten pretty good at reading people email doesn't by default have a set of emotional indicators unless you add them manually. Same with posting online. Thus I always worry about how my words are taken and what the heck is the other person really saying?? It's quite tiring sometimes. That's part of the reason I don't post as much as I used to. That and now not only my wife but my mother reads my LJ so I feed....restricted in what I can say.

That and I feel like "Nobody wants to hear you whining about your life Mike! They have their own life to complain about!" ;-)
johnpalmer From: johnpalmer Date: October 24th, 2013 04:28 am (UTC) (Link)
Hm. I don't like to encourage loyalty too much in corporate America, because they have no loyalty to you (even if the direct people do, there's always someone above them who doesn't). But - a place of employment that values you even though you don't blat your accomplishments all to hell and gone is a good place. (Or, to be more excruciatingly careful, "it is good for a place to recognize value...").

I don't exactly give advice to people - but I like to share stories. And one story I heard for people who hate making mistakes is the person who got over that by learning to knit.

How?

Well, *no one* knits well at first. Sure, they might knit acceptably well, but it's one of those skills that you just can't help to improve upon with time. So your first projects might look okay, but your later ones will show off the numerous flaws in the earlier ones.

And the point is, that's okay - that is *how* people learn to knit, by doing it *wrong* (because no one does it right, right away) and therefore, having a chance to learn how to do it better.

Once that hypothetical person could understand that there are times it's okay to do things wrong, the "mustn't ever make mistakes" was hammered thoroughly out of them, with yarn.
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: October 24th, 2013 06:18 am (UTC) (Link)

Yes...

>> And one story I heard for people who hate making mistakes is the person who got over that by learning to knit. <<

Making safe mistakes is good practice. Doesn't always work but it's worth a try.
johnpalmer From: johnpalmer Date: October 24th, 2013 04:20 am (UTC) (Link)
I was kinda lucky. I had a really shitty boss who taught me to avoid imposter syndrome. I couldn't help it - I realized that when I trusted myself, and wasn't stressed by him, I was *magnificent*. But not by his standards, and not when he could keep me scared.

(The luck, obviously, was having a shitty boss at the precise time when I was ready to learn that lesson. Note that I didn't say it was *good* luck, either :-) .)
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