Are you cheating? Or is it imposter syndrome?

Try answering the following few questions at the outset:

  1. When you are successful in exams, do you think it was only because you were lucky with the questions you got? 
  2. Do you find it hard to believe in yourself and think you are capable enough?
  3. Do you believe that any praise is undeserved?
  4. Is it difficult for you to accept appreciation for your work?
  5. Do you believe that your colleagues must be handling the same situation much better than you?
  6. Are you afraid that others will soon find out about your "incompetence"?
  7. Do you procrastinate in your work to prevent this from happening?
  8. Does even a minimum amount of criticism prove your own incompetence?

If you are troubled by these feelings, it may be imposter syndrome. When you suffer from it, you believe that you are cheating your way through life while others think of you as a capable student or employee. And inevitably, there comes a time when your teachers, colleagues or employers find out that you're not as good as you seem. You're stressed and your stomach clenches with anxiety and the fear of revealing your "deception".

Is it possible to avoid such feelings? Can they be nipped in the bud, or are their predispositions coded into us and we have no chance of escaping them? Can we build up resistance to them? We believe that resilience (resistance) to self-deprecation can be cultivated.

9 tips on how to build resilience (resistance) to self-depreciation

1. Try to distinguish between your objective results in your studies or work and mere perceptions of them. This will help you to become aware of your own qualities. Also that with the same effort as others you can achieve the same or even better goals.

2. Everyone excels at something different. Everyone works or studies at a different pace and in a different way. Don't compare yourself to others.

3.     Don't discount your achievements in public or in front of yourself - praise yourself, even if only privately at first.

4. Document every success. And come back to them in your weaker moments.

5.     Take any failure as a stepping stone for further growth. Everyone makes mistakes. They teach us what we can improve on.

6. Relax. Movement, a book, yoga, meeting friends, a relaxing run with your favourite music... There are so many ways to let your mind rest.

7.     Realise that healthy growth is not the same as perfectionism. No one is perfect - not even you. And it's natural. So don't expect 1,000% from yourself.

8. Share your feelings with someone you trust and you'll trust their feedback. Be it family, friends or professionals.

9.     Finally, remember that imposter syndrome is a type of anxiety disorder and as such can be professionally treated. You are never alone in anything.

If you really don't feel safe having your mistakes evaluated by colleagues or supervisors, it could also be a toxic work environment or a lack of company culture in terms of psychological safety. This is what NEWTON addresses on the #feelsafe

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