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"Do you really know what you're doing?" - The danger of Imposter Syndrome & how to spot it

A political candidate delivers a speech with confidence. A business manager leads her team through a tough project. To everyone else, they’re calm, confident, and experts of their craft. But, in reality, both of them feel like frauds.

“It’s that little voice in your head that gives you doubt and questions [if] you really know what you’re doing," said Relevé Counseling therapist, Meryll Cornejo.

They’re suffering from a phenomenon called Imposter Syndrome. Imposter Syndrome isn’t officially recognized as a psychological disorder. But, nearly 90% of people say they’ve experienced it at some point in their lives.

“Even if we know in the back of our mind, 'I did all the research. I did all I needed to do to know this information,' you have moments of uncertainty. ‘What if I don’t actually know what I’m doing,’ or ‘What if what I learned isn’t actually true?’”

So-called perfectionists are often linked to Imposter Syndrome. Their attention to detail may seem like they’re on top of things. However, in some cases, they’re more worried about looking unprepared.

“It becomes unhealthy when it becomes an obsession. ‘I have to know everything that I need to.’”

There’s a ripple effect associated with Imposter Syndrome, including:

  • Lack of self-confidence

  • Shame & feelings of inadequacy

  • Low self-esteem

  • Daily fear/distress

“Acknowledge your feelings. Talking about it with others can help you find an outside context of the situation and they can confirm if you are in over your head.”

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