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70% of People Experience(d) Impostor Syndrome: One Simple Fix That Could Work.
Madelaine Claire Weiss, LICSW, MBA, BCC -- MIndOverMatters Madelaine Claire Weiss, LICSW, MBA, BCC -- MIndOverMatters
For Immediate Release:
Dateline: Washington, DC
Monday, November 1, 2021


Table of Contents

What is Impostor Syndrome?

Impostor Syndrome is the idea that you got where you are by luck and it is only a matter of time before everyone finds out that you’re a fraud. Oversimplified for sure, but I do notice something like this a lot in my work.

Even though these men and women may have proven their ability many times over, still they are filled with doubt about whether they can pull it off and measure up. From an earlier post I wrote on Impostorism:

I think it happened to me without my even knowing it. Twice. Can you even believe that I turned down an actual acceptance to Harvard for a PhD, telling myself that it would be too hard on my family. Well then, why did I even apply in the first place? And, surely there are lots of women who would have gone and made it work, including the woman I am today. And then, when it was time for business school, an esteemed Harvard Business School professor told my equally esteemed father-in-law, “Tell her to apply, we are looking for people like her.” I might have been shoo-in and did not even apply.

Why Does it Exist?

Again from the earlier piece on Impostorism, and pulling from Clancy Martin’s Imposter Syndrome: Do you sometimes feel like a fraud? in The Atlantic—here are some reasons why so many people have it:

Martin writes that early family dynamics and sex role stereotypes have resulted in many high achieving women feeling like impostors. He says this applies to ethnic minorities as well. And, for men and women, there is something about surpassing one’s parents—or I would add not surpassing one’s parents—that can make one feel like a fraud. He talks about how hard it is to reality test performance in the intangible service professions of today, and how comparisons with inflated Facebook posts are not helping either.

One Simple Fix That Could Work?

People can outgrow Impostor Syndrome. I don’t have it anymore. How do I know that? Probably because years of good training, good work, and good results have nourished my confidence out of any doubts like that? Oh, and because I took a test—which you can too. The Clance IP Scale is on the internet. You can find it here. And if you do score in the Impostor Syndrome zone, doesn’t have to stay that way at all.

The opposite of Impostor Syndrome would be to live and work in realistic appraisal and application of one’s talents and skills. People in this zone don’t ever have to know or be able to do everything. They can always ask for help or learn something new anytime they want or need to.

What I’m finding, though, is that a lot of people plagued by self-doubt think the opposite of Impostor Syndrome is self-interest—and they don’t want to be like that. As in, they don’t want to be like the son of the gods, Narcissus, who held his own reflection in a pool of water in such high regard that some versions of the myth say he fell into the pool and drowned.

They also don’t want to be like Icarus, whose hubris had him flying so close to the sun that his fake wings melted and he drowned in the ocean. Pride (or hubris) is, after all, at the top of the Seven Deadly Sins. So, in all fairness to the 70% who experience(d) Impostor Syndrome, it is easy to see why it might be hard for many to be all that they can be without being scared.

Check out The Big Leap: Conquer Your Hidden Fear and Take Life to the Next Level by Gay Hendricks for a whole book on upper limit fear of success.

For right here right now, though, you can try swapping out one single word. That is, instead of thinking the opposite of Impostor Syndrome is Self-Interest—think Self Respect instead. this came up just the other day with a client who had a really good response. She seemed relieved and said, “I like that.”

We will see over time if it actually makes a difference for her. You can try it too and, if you care to, let us know what you find.

Warm wishes for your success in all things that matter to you,


Photo by John Noonan Unsplash

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Name: Madelaine Claire Weiss
Group: MindOverMatters, LLC
Dateline: Washington, DC United States
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