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Impostor Syndrome. Why Do We Feel Unworthy Of Recognition? - Self-development, Society
Impostor Syndrome. Why Do We Feel Unworthy Of Recognition? - Self-development, Society

Video: Impostor Syndrome. Why Do We Feel Unworthy Of Recognition? - Self-development, Society

Video: Impostor Syndrome. Why Do We Feel Unworthy Of Recognition? - Self-development, Society
Video: What is imposter syndrome and how can you combat it? - Elizabeth Cox 2023, June

Do you know the feeling that your success is the result not so much of your skill as perseverance and luck? Yes, others think that the work has been done perfectly, but you know what could have been improved here, improved there, completed here … If so - welcome to the "club of impostors"

Fake Success?

The term "impostor syndrome" appeared in psychology in the seventies of the last century. Researchers describe it as a subjective experience of “fake success,” in which a person attributes his or her achievements to a lucky coincidence or the use of great effort, rather than his own competence or talent 1. In this case, failures, on the contrary, are associated with personal characteristics - sluggishness, laziness, stupidity, etc.

There is a debate in psychological circles as to whether "imposture" can be considered a separate syndrome, or is it just a special case of low self-esteem and self-doubt. One way or another, this phenomenon is familiar to many: according to American scientists Pauline Clance and Susan Ames, from 40 to 70% of workers in various organizations suffer from it in one form or another - and most of these people are women 2. That is why we use the term "impostor syndrome" and not "impostor syndrome" - alas, this problem has a very distinct "female face".

Psychologists emphasize that the described phenomenon has an extremely negative effect not only on professional development, but also on the general well-being of a person. Its manifestations are associated with an increase in depressive and anxiety disorders, a decrease in subjective well-being and an increase in dissatisfaction with their own work and life in general

Why women?

Among the prerequisites for the formation of a sense of one's own "unworthiness", researchers name the following:

  • lack of unconditional parental love in childhood;
  • “Parentification”, that is, the child's forced fulfillment of the role of an adult in the family;
  • persistent demands of parents to fulfill the role imposed on the child;
  • high susceptibility to criticism from other people;
  • devaluation of the achievements and abilities of the child from the immediate environment 3.

Unfortunately, education in the mainstream of traditional female gender socialization almost necessarily includes almost all of the above.

Girls from childhood are taught to focus not on their own feelings, but on the feelings of others: “Did a boy pull you by the pigtail? Well, nothing hurts, he just likes you! " This dissociation from their own perceptions leads to the fact that girls cease to trust themselves and become extremely receptive to the opinions of others. Do they receive the support of their own talents, aspirations, ambitions? Oh, as much as you like - if only these talents bring her closer to the ideal of "an exemplary wife and mother" - but everything else is systematically cut off and depreciated.

Does the girl want to make a good career? "Well, this is until the first decree, and then it will sink into diapers and cereals." Dreams of becoming a pilot, doing heart surgery, conducting an orchestra? “Wherever you go, these are not women's professions! Become a better flight attendant, nurse, music school teacher. " Going to a strong technical college? "Well, one good thing - you will get married successfully!" Time after time, girls are taught that their ambitions are groundless, and attempts to achieve heights in science, work, creativity are doomed to failure in advance.

At the same time, the requirements for girls are much higher than for boys. A boy can be a "cheerful C grade", a girl is expected to study in "four" and "five". Girls are introduced to household duties from the age of two, boys - only from four 4, while the average amount of "girl's" work is 1.5-2 times higher than 5 ! If the daughters do not cope with the burden of the assigned worries, they often hear accusations of laziness, stupidity, curvature and the immortal adage: "But who will marry you like that ?!"

So, between the hammer of unbearable responsibility and the anvil of eternal depreciation, a stable feeling of one's own uselessness, ineptitude, and mediocrity is forged. And if, in spite of everything, the abilities still find their recognition, it can be very difficult to get rid of the feeling that this is all undeserved.

Can men suffer from "impostor syndrome"? Of course they can - in dysfunctional families, children's self-esteem suffers regardless of gender. Sons may also have conflicting demands and ridicule their hobbies and dreams - however, relentless statistics claim that all this happens to daughters much more often 6.

Check yourself

How do you know if you have imposter syndrome? Count how many of the following statements are true about you:

  1. You are embarrassed to accept compliments and praise from other people.
  2. Despite the external evidence of success, deep down you feel that you are unworthy to have it.
  3. You are constantly afraid that the case will end in your complete failure.
  4. You often attribute your success to external factors: good timing or circumstances, quotas awarded, competitor mistakes, etc.
  5. You feel like other people think you are much more talented than you really are.
  6. You are afraid that sooner or later you will be exposed and announced that you are in the wrong place.
  7. Laudatory words addressed to you seem to you a delusion or a lie.
  8. You feel anxious that you are not doing your job as well as you could.
  9. You are extremely sensitive to the slightest criticism of the results of your work.
  10. Each new project for you is accompanied by stress and anxiety.
  11. You can call yourself a perfectionist, strive for the perfect result in any business.
  12. When you are told that you are doing an excellent job of your duties, you feel like a cheater who deceived everyone.

If there are more than three positive answers, you are at risk. If six or more - most likely, you need help getting rid of the "impostor syndrome". How can you get it?

Exit routes

Although Imposter Syndrome is not a clinical diagnosis, but a self-esteem problem, the ways to deal with it are similar to other psychological disorders. There are four critical pillars that can help you return to a healthy self-attitude.

Help from loved ones

In any changes, first of all, the support of the closest environment is important - therefore, the first thing to ask your loved ones about is, if possible, stop giving negative, critical, devaluating assessments of your personality or work results. Praise, support, compliments with or without - on the contrary, are only welcome! Over time, the habit of accepting positive feedback will take hold and become the norm.

Psychologist consultation

Since independent work with self-esteem is fraught with constant breakdowns (and, as a result, an even greater decrease in self-esteem), it is worth considering the option of contacting a psychologist for qualified help. An additional effect of working with a specialist can be the analysis and elimination of problems that caused the development of the "impostor syndrome".


Простое перечисление собственных талантов и успехов часто не дает нужного эффекта, поэтому возможный вариант самопомощи – представить, будто на вашем месте стоит другой человек, и подумать, заслуживает ли он признания его успехов? Что можно было бы ему сказать, будь он близким знакомым или другом? Какие действия могли бы поддержать его на пути восстановления?


Разнообразные медитативные, дыхательные и аутотренинговые упражнения способны оказать большую поддержку в моменты, когда накатывает тревога или паника. В более простых случаях вполне эффективным оказывается буквальное заучивание мысли, знакомой нам по нашумевшему видеоклипу: «Кто молодец? Я молодец!»

Ведь и вправду, каждый из нас – молодец, и нам всем есть чем гордиться


  1. Hutchins H. M. Outing the imposter: A study exploring imposter phenomenon among higher education faculty // New Horizons in Adult Education and Human Resource Development. 2015. V. 27. № 2. P. 3–12. URL: (дата обращения: 27.04.2019).
  2. Clance P. R., Imes S. A. The imposter phenomenon in high achieving women: Dynamics and therapeutic intervention // Psychotherapy: Theory, Research & Practice. 1978. V. 15. № 3. P. 241–249. URL: (дата обращения: 27.04.2019).
  3. Langford J., Clance P. R. The imposter phenomenon: recent research findings regarding dynamics, personality and family patterns and their implications for treatment // Psychotherapy: Theory, Research, Practice, Training. 1993. V. 30. № 3. P. 495–501. URL: (дата обращения: 27.04.2019).
  4. Bonke J. Children’s housework – Are girls more active than boys? // Electronic International Journal of Time Use Research. 2010. V. 7. № 1. P. 2–16. URL: (дата обращения: 27.04.2019).
  5. Evertsson M. The reproduction of gender: housework and attitudes towards gender equality in the home among Swedish boys and girls // The British journal of sociology. 2006. V. 57. No. 3. P. 415-436. URL: (reference date: 2019-27-04).
  6. Young V. The secret thoughts of successful women: Why capable people suffer from the impostor syndrome and how to thrive in spite of it. NY: Crown Business, 2011. URL: (date accessed: 27.04.2019).

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