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5 Myths About Imposter Syndrome Being A Superpower

Written by: Victor Mosconi, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

 

Make imposter syndrome your superpower! Having people underestimate you is a strength! Fooling others is your magical power! Being a perfectionist sets you apart from others!

These are just a few of the statements and article headlines regarding how imposter syndrome can actually be good for you!


That’s right, the anxiety, stress, depression, fear of failure, fear of success, worry you’ll never be good enough and never be accepted for who you are, that imposter syndrome is actually good for you!


No, that doesn’t sound right, does it?


Imposter syndrome, also known as the impostor phenomenon is a complex construct that reflects the struggle to appreciate yourself and know your self-worth. It is the inability to recognize internalized successes and achievements, and constantly fearing you’re a fraud for not being good enough in what you do and who you are. At the same time, it is the need to constantly seek outside sources and people for acceptance and approval.


Recent research and articles have discussed how experiencing imposter syndrome can actually be a benefit and a strength. They state people experiencing this phenomenon can have higher interpersonal skills and empathy. Their ability to communicate is at a higher level and they are more skilled in building relationships. And their quality of work is higher due to their perfectionism.


Studies


One recent study presented an argument on how there is no empirical quantitative evidence that imposter thoughts degrade performance. This is true. However, the issue isn’t about performance but about the effects on well-being.


There are plenty of studies with empirical findings on the detrimental effects of perfectionism and fear of not being good enough on the well-being of those experiencing imposter syndrome.


Those that are promoting the singular focus of the benefits of imposter syndrome by talking about it as your superpower are diminishing the negative side so you only see the positives. But this perspective does nothing to help you reduce your imposter syndrome. It does nothing to help you grow your own supportive self-belief and learn how to appreciate yourself and embrace your authentic self.


Myths such as these perpetuate a false narrative of the experience of imposter syndrome.


5 Myths


Myth 1 ‒ Imposter syndrome is about pretending to be someone you’re not.


Nope, that’s impersonation. When you are experiencing imposter syndrome, you are fighting every day to be better and hoping what you do is good enough. You feel like you’re a fraud or a fake, not because you’re trying to pretend you’re someone else, but because you don’t have the self-belief and feel that what others see and say of you is not true. Those experiencing imposter syndrome aren’t purposely trying to pretend to be someone else for status. They’re hoping no one will see their true self just so they can survive the day. Hence the imposter feeling.


Myth 2 ‒ Imposter syndrome makes you more productive


No. You yourself are productive. Your imposter thoughts create stress and anxiety where you overwork and feel the need to have to do everything to show your worth. But it does not make you more productive. Just more worn out and stressed. Your own skills, abilities and care for your work help you to be more productive.


Myth 3 ‒ Being a perfectionist due to imposter syndrome helps you create higher quality.


Nope. Your perfectionist needs create a mindset of never being satisfied with your work, and in turn, can also create restrictive perceptions of what you can develop due to fear of failure. Because you’re worried your work is never good enough which means you are never good enough, you continue to work, pushing yourself further, leading you to more anxiety and disappointment in your own work and self. You can care about your work, and can still produce high quality without the need for perfectionism and imposter syndrome.


Myth 4 ‒ Experiencing these imposter thoughts will make you more adept at relationships


Okay, sure. But do you know why you’re more adept at relationships? Because you’re often more empathic due to past experiences of never being heard or accepted. You are literally stressed out about making others upset or displeased with you, so you have learned how to not create conflict. You talk and interact in a way that is supportive and caring toward the other person and can tap into their stressors at the expense of your own well-being. So yes, you have excellent people skills. And still are stressed, anxious, and always feel you’re not good enough.


Myth 5 ‒ Knowing the positives of imposter syndrome will help you to be okay with your experiences


Never! Just because some people perceive a positive, they are not the ones experiencing the imposter thoughts and feelings. Even if you believe them to be positives, you still do not see the positives in yourself and struggle to accept the positives of who you are and what you do. You will continue to lack a supportive self-belief, and self-appreciation so any perceived positives mean nothing.


Discussions like those, reflecting on only what is seen as perceived benefits, completely dismiss the negative and detrimental effects imposter syndrome has on you.


Toxic positivity


Seeing only the positives and dismissing the negatives only diminishes and devalues the experiences you go through. It will lead to abuse and manipulation by managers and leaders in focusing on how to get the most productivity out of you over caring about your well-being.


The focus on quantity over quality will only end up hurting and causing emotional and psychological damage to people experiencing high levels of imposter syndrome. When people push the positive outcomes over the negative effects or interaction, it creates a toxic mindset and interaction where you dismiss the negative effects and true impact it’s having on you.


Real Experiences


When experiencing imposter syndrome, many are working to perfection, because they fear their “good” isn’t good enough. And any mistakes, “less thans”, “could be better”, don’t leave room for improvement or growth, but the crushing defeat of not just their work, but of who they are personally. Which can be a devastating experience for them.


You don’t have to be a perfectionist or push someone to their breaking point to achieve quality. Building someone’s self-appreciation and growth within themselves won’t diminish their quality of work. It will, however, help to create longevity in their productivity, their innovation, and their ability to develop new interactions and growth for your business, while at the same time, they embrace their value, and worth in acceptance of who they are.


Your empathy and interpersonal skills won’t disappear when you’ve learned to overcome your imposter thoughts. At the same time, you don’t need to experience imposter syndrome to be empathetic. You can build up your empathy and compassion with the right support system and compassion from others.


Imposter syndrome isn’t just about fear, lack of self-doubt, or perfectionism. This is a complex construct that impacts people on many levels and where those three aspects are true, they are not singled out. They are intertwined with a low self-belief and a need for outside approval.


To dismiss any aspect to solely focus on a singular outcome, is a detriment to the person experiencing this phenomenon and will only bring about their burnout, growth in feelings of not being worthy, not good enough, and damage to their self-worth.


Refocus


The redirection of your focus to the happy side of things and all the positives will last a short period until all the negatives you’ve pushed down have built up enough to weigh you down again.


You don’t need to focus on the negatives, but you need to acknowledge they are there and know steps to take to help build your self-belief and reduce their negative effects on you.


You don’t need imposter syndrome to do your best work. You don’t need imposter syndrome to have great interpersonal skills, or to be empathetic toward others. You can do all of those by developing a growth mindset and striving to do better, learn more and grow in appreciation of who you are each day.


Help Yourself and Help Your Employees

  • Don’t compare your own life, accomplishments, or experiences to other people’s. Focus on your own journey.

  • Leaders: When talking to your employee/staff or team member, keep the focus on their accomplishments and experiences. You can connect them with other employees in demonstrating how they are experiencing similar struggles or steps in development but never compare. Keep the focus on the individual.

  • Recognize your own skills and abilities. Write a list of what you do well, and build on that list each day.

  • Leaders: Don’t tell employees what they are doing well, ask them to share with you all they have done and help them to see their own skills and abilities.

  • Reflect on your own work and accomplishments. Write down your accomplishments and success and what skills, abilities, and knowledge you’ve learned and helped you grow.

  • Leaders: Ask what skills did your employees apply and develop in pursuit of their accomplishment? What growth did they have, and how it helped them succeed?

  • Failure is an opportunity to learn. Look at the situation for what it was and what you did well, and where you could grow or apply to future opportunities.

  • Leaders: Don’t focus on the negative of the mistakes or failures, but on the learning opportunities and have your employee develop steps they can take for future opportunities.

  • Help to develop a growth mindset by believing that your talents, skills, and knowledge can help you grow and develop due to your effort.

  • Leaders: See employees as being full of potential and with the ability to constantly learn, and develop not just in their skills and knowledge but in their self-belief and character. Use that mindset to encourage them to grow.

Your Superpower is Your Supportive Self-belief


When you hear or read how you have a superpower hidden in your challenging experiences, such as imposter syndrome, be mindful of the focus. Is their focus on the outcome and dismissing all you have experienced? If so, focus on what you know to be true and your qualities, and don’t believe the toxic positivity.


To help yourself break down your imposter syndrome thoughts and experiences, learn to build your self-belief and appreciate your true qualities. The positives that come from your growth will be the belief in yourself and acknowledging your own talents. At the same time, you’ll still be able to maintain the quality of your work and skills of being empathetic and utilizing your interpersonal skills.


You just won’t be experiencing the anxiety, stress, depression, fear of failure, and worry you’ll never be good enough, because you are now accepting of who you are and getting so much more out of your own experiences, life, and journey.


Follow me on Instagram, and visit my website for more info!


 

Victor Mosconi, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Victor Mosconi, is a Ph.D. Candidate in Psychology, with a Master’s in Psychology of Leadership Development and Coaching, a Master’s in Industrial/Organizational Psychology, and the founder of Imposter Solution Coach. Through his life-long experience with imposter syndrome, his psychology background, and coaching skills, Victor specializes in supporting up-and-coming women leaders and entrepreneurs in overcoming their self-doubt and imposter thoughts to develop a mindset of self-appreciation and strong self-belief. Take his quiz on his website and discover what level of impostor syndrome you experience.

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