The feeling of not enough being. The thought that you landed on your desired job not for your abilities but due to sheer luck. Almost every employee at some point in their life has gone through this phase. When self-doubt becomes a part of your life, it may cause some trouble. But recent research suggests otherwise. Feeling like an impostor in the company even when you truly deserve the job might help you perform even better in the office.

According to an article published in the International Journal of Behavioral Science, 70% of people experience these impostor feelings at some point in their lives. It implies that you are not the only one living with this odd feeling every day.

This phenomenon of internalized fear was identified by Dr. Pauline R. Clance and Dr. Suzanne A. Imes. The article “The Impostor Phenomenon in High Achieving Women: Dynamics and Therapeutic Intervention” explained the terminology as an individual experience of “self-perceived intellectual phoniness”.

Some of the common signs of the phenomenon include:

  1. Self-doubt to a level one might put their job at stake
  2. No feeling of achievement even after acing a challenging task
  3. A firm belief that success is not one’s own but just luck induced by external factors

The disturbing loop continues as your competence can never make you believe that you are worthy of your job. There is nothing that would change your beliefs about your talents except yourself.

There is no specific reason why people have such experiences. Although initial research suggested that women are more prone to fall for the imposter syndrome, later it was denied by modern research articles. There can be many factors contributing to the experience: nepotism, institutionalized discrimination, gender biases, social anxiety, etc.

The imposter syndrome can be a huge issue, especially who are diagnosed with Social Anxiety Disorder. But current research is good news for every employee: imposter syndrome can be an upside.

The recent research on imposter syndrome is conducted by Basima Tewfik, assistant professor of Work and Organization Studies at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Tewfik’s findings propose that the experience that is treated as a negative trait, could play a vital role in boosting up employee’s competencies.

Tewfik’s research is a breakthrough. Her findings suggested the tangible social benefits that the “imposters” enjoy. She was also able to present through her research, the common individual attributes imposters had. These attributes include being more empathetic, better listening skills, and asking better questions. Since imposters tend to be much more observant than non-imposters, they tend to have all these qualities naturally.

It may take patience and time. But think for a moment: what if this experience is counterintuitive? What if your self-doubts make you work more than you already should? Of course, you will be ending up having the double amount of improvement you could have if you were aware of your abilities. Because you thought you were incompetent, you strive to make improvements in your field.

Embracing self-doubt is not easy. But this self-doubt is the reason why one can dodge the downsides of imposter syndrome. Thinking of the experience as an ability to recognize the gaps in your talents rather than consistently telling yourself that you are not worthy of this job will surely help you.

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