Is there a little voice in your head constantly telling you that you’ll never be enough?
Is it saying:
“You don’t deserve this job?”
“You’ll never be successful?”
“It’s only a matter of time before they find out that you’re a fraud?”
Maybe you’re an introvert and can’t fathom how you’ll ever be taken seriously in a world dominated by successful and charismatic extroverts.
And despite all the preparation, hard work and talent, you can’t seem to shake the feeling of inadequacy?
If this resonates with you, you’re probably experiencing imposter syndrome.
What’s imposter syndrome?
People with imposter syndrome often describe feeling like a fraud. Success is seemingly impossible for this individual because of the belief that they are fundamentally flawed as human beings.
Fortunately, you’re not the only one experiencing this phenomenon. Studies show that 70% of the general population suffer from imposter syndrome at some point in their lives.
While not uncommon, the constant feeling of incompetence can be damaging to your mental well-being and professional growth.
Why are introverts more likely to develop Imposter syndrome than extroverts?
Introverts tend to be self-reflective, and self-aware.
Although these are wonderful qualities to have, they can often lend themselves to feelings of doubt and personal inadequacy. Especially when introverts aren’t the ‘norm’ in business and entrepreneurship.
We’re more likely to experience imposter syndrome if we don’t see many examples of people who look like us or share our background who are clearly succeeding in our field.Emily Hu
Introverted women of colour particularly experience this phenomenon due to the lack of representation in the professional and entrepreneurial world. So, finding any degree of success is often attributed to pure luck rather than one’s skills or talents.
Why is imposter syndrome a problem?
Imposter syndrome appears in the form of disruptive thoughts. These disruptive thoughts often prevent you from performing at your full potential.
Below I’ll go through some of the most common.
As an introvert, you are probably thorough and detail-oriented. There’s nothing wrong with caring about the quality of your work. However, imposter syndrome takes perfectionism to an extreme.
You believe that the quality of the work you do is somehow tied to your inherent worth.
In pursuit of perfection, you might neglect your physical needs. You’ll pull all-nighters to ensure projects are free of error, sacrificing much-needed sleep.
You might spend too much time taking projects ‘back to the drawing board’ because you can’t seem to be satisfied with anything less than perfect.
To appear competent in positions of leadership, you might micromanage your team. This compromises the overall effectiveness of workflow.
Imposter syndrome gives way to the overthinking mind, which has a number of repercussions on your mental and professional wellbeing.
Undervaluing your worth
Do you blame yourself for mishaps and setbacks even when they are out of your control? Are you afraid of demanding self-respect because you haven’t earned it?
Imposter syndrome will have you constantly doubting your capabilities.
You might avoid increasing your rates with an established client even if you have helped their traffic and sales. You might also avoid confrontation with a rude client because you believe their treatment towards you is warranted (spoiler: it’s not).
I regularly think about the quote from the movie Perks of Being a Wallflower:
We accept the love we think we deserve.
Respect is so critical in any relationship. Imposter syndrome will have you undervaluing your worth allowing others to take advantage of this weak spot.
Maybe you’ve been offered a lucrative gig with a big-time client but passed out of fear of failure. Maybe you shy away from going after that dream job because you don’t believe you have what it takes to succeed.
Imposter syndrome will prevent you from embracing new challenges with open arms. But as the saying goes, “You miss 100% of the chances you don’t take”.
Professional growth and personal development require pushing past your comfort zone. Sometimes you’ll never know your potential until you decide to test your limits.
How to overcome imposter syndrome
Accept you for you
No one said being a social butterfly is a prerequisite for success. People can see through inauthenticity and isn’t it exhausting to put on a facade every day? To pretend to be a happy-go-lucky extrovert?
Trust me when I say, you don’t need to be a late-night show host to be liked by others.
Most introverts are very good listeners, and that’s equally important as being able to command a room. It is not about trying to impress everyone, it is about the people who like you for you.
Give up perfectionism
Socially prescribed perfection is a form of perfectionism where one feels that they are expected to excel by other people.
To everyone else, you’re a natural overachiever. So you intend to keep it that way.
However, mistakes happen to the best of us. You’re allowed to fail, allowed to ask questions, allowed to embrace your imperfections.
Giving up perfectionism means rebranding yourself. You’re not a perfectionist. You’re so much more than every dotted ‘i’ and crossed ‘t’.
Are you the type of person to dismiss compliments? Do you find yourself saying “sorry”, more than you say “thank you”? Do you use self-deprecating language like “I’m terrible at this”, or “I’ll never be successful”?
Language dictates your thoughts. The more often you tell yourself the lie that you are not good enough, or don’t deserve happiness, the more you will believe it.
Self-affirmations might sound phoney to others at first. However, you can start by replacing negative language with objective language. (i.e I am doing x right now, I am doing y.) Then you can work your way up to positive and encouraging mantras that you can practice daily.
Control your mind
I know, easier said than done. However, practising mindfulness is important in countering that critical voice in your head.
In therapy, you learn the 3Rs method: recognize, regulate and replace.
Recognize the thought. Perhaps it may sound like “I’m not good enough”, “No one will take me seriously”, “I’m too young/too old/too unskilled etc…”
Take a moment to notice when a negative thought arises. Understand what might trigger that thought.
Regulate the thought. Identify the type of distorted belief taking place. Here are a few of them:
Overgeneralizing is drawing a blanket conclusion from an isolated event. For instance, if you gave a poor presentation, you might think to yourself, “I am bad at giving presentations”.
- Jumping to conclusions:
Mind reading and fortune telling are two ways in which you might create false realities.
Mind reading is when you feel a person will react or think a particular way about you. Fortune telling is predicting a scenario will play out a certain way.
Both forms of conclusion jumping justify avoiding difficult situations.
Personalization is when you ascribe blame to yourself in a situation that is out of your control.
For instance, if a client is angry for a mishap that you could not have prevented. You might blame yourself and believe that you don’t deserve to be paid for the work you’ve done.
Replace the thought
Replace cognitive distortions with objective thoughts. Objective thoughts are created with evidence derived from reality.
For instance, if you constantly think, “my coworkers hate me”, ask yourself:
“Is this something they’ve actually said? Do I have concrete evidence to support this belief? Or is this a reality I’ve created based on my own fears and insecurities?”
This method will not fix imposter syndrome immediately. However, self-awareness and continuous practice, it is effective in overcoming destructive thoughts.
No one is perfect
You have a habit of comparing your messy insides to everyone else’s perfect outside. That isn’t fair to you.
In fact, imposter syndrome is more common than you think. People that seem like they have their shit together may have zero idea what they’re doing.
We feel like impostors not because we are uniquely flawed, but because we fail to imagine how deeply flawed everyone else must necessarily also be beneath a more or less polished surface.
There is comfort in knowing that there is a shared, universal feeling of uncertainty even among the best of us (yes, even extroverts). You don’t have to try to be what everyone else is not.
As an introvert, you might be hesitant to pursue therapy.
Perhaps, you’re not much of a sharer. Maybe you think your problems are too trivial to seek professional help. Maybe you don’t believe that it works.
Regardless, there is no shame in seeking professional help for your imposter syndrome. You could search high and low for an answer but never find one.
That’s okay, you don’t have to carry the load on your own. Therapy is for everyone. Don’t be afraid to seek treatment.
Imposter syndrome as an introvert
If you’re an introvert experiencing imposter syndrome right now, you’re not alone.
It’s easy to feel like a small fish in a big pond when you’re surrounded by capable and successful extroverts.
However, as you clicked on this article (and got to this point), you probably recognize that there is a problem and it needs to be fixed. Congrats, you are taking a step in the right direction.
Imposter syndrome doesn’t have to rule your life. It’s time to take your power back.