What is imposter syndrome and how can you combat it? – Elizabeth Cox

Even after writing eleven books and winning several prestigious awards, Maya Angelou couldn’t escape the nagging doubt that she hadn’t.

Even after writing eleven books
and winning several prestigious awards, Maya Angelou couldn’t escape
the nagging doubt that she hadn’t really earned
her accomplishments. Albert Einstein experienced
something similar: he described himself
as an “involuntary swindler” whose work didn’t deserve
as much attention as it had received. Accomplishments at the level
of Angelou’s or Einstein’s are rare, but their feeling of fraudulence
is extremely common. Why can’t so many of us shake feelings that we haven’t earned
our accomplishments, or that our ideas and skills
aren’t worthy of others’ attention? Psychologist Pauline Rose Clance
was the first to study this unwarranted sense of insecurity. In her work as a therapist, she noticed many of her undergraduate
patients shared a concern: though they had high grades, they didn’t believe they deserved
their spots at the university. Some even believed their acceptance
had been an admissions error. While Clance knew these fears
were unfounded, she could also remember feeling
the exact same way in graduate school. She and her patients experienced
something that goes by a number of names– imposter phenomenon, imposter experience, and imposter syndrome. Together with colleague Suzanne Imes, Clance first studied imposterism
in female college students and faculty. Their work established pervasive
feelings of fraudulence in this group. Since that first study, the same thing has been established
across gender, race, age, and a huge range of occupations, though it may be more prevalent
and disproportionately affect the experiences of underrepresented
or disadvantaged groups. To call it a syndrome
is to downplay how universal it is. It’s not a disease or an abnormality, and it isn’t necessarily
tied to depression, anxiety, or self-esteem. Where do these feelings
of fraudulence come from? People who are highly skilled
or accomplished tend to think others are just as skilled. This can spiral into feelings
that they don’t deserve accolades and opportunities over other people. And as Angelou and Einstein experienced, there’s often no threshold
of accomplishment that puts these feelings to rest. Feelings of imposterism aren’t restricted
to highly skilled individuals, either. Everyone is susceptible to a phenomenon
known as pluralistic ignorance, where we each doubt ourselves privately, but believe we’re alone
in thinking that way because no one else voices their doubts. Since it’s tough to really know
how hard our peers work, how difficult they find certain tasks, or how much they doubt themselves, there’s no easy way to dismiss feelings
that we’re less capable than the people around us. Intense feelings of imposterism can prevent people
from sharing their great ideas or applying for jobs
and programs where they’d excel. At least so far, the most surefire way
to combat imposter syndrome is to talk about it. Many people suffering
from imposter syndrome are afraid that if they ask
about their performance, their fears will be confirmed. And even when
they receive positive feedback, it often fails to ease
feelings of fraudulence. But on the other hand, hearing that an advisor or mentor has
experienced feelings of imposterism can help relieve those feelings. The same goes for peers. Even simply finding out there’s a term
for these feelings can be an incredible relief. Once you’re aware of the phenomenon, you can combat your own imposter syndrome by collecting
and revisiting positive feedback. One scientist who kept blaming herself
for problems in her lab started to document the causes
every time something went wrong. Eventually, she realized most
of the problems came from equipment failure, and came to recognize her own competence. We may never be able
to banish these feelings entirely, but we can have open conversations
about academic or professional challenges. With increasing awareness
of how common these experiences are, perhaps we can feel freer to be frank
about our feelings and build confidence
in some simple truths: you have talent, you are capable, and you belong.

100 thoughts on “What is imposter syndrome and how can you combat it? – Elizabeth Cox”

  1. For more ways to build #StrengthNotStress, check out this lesson with tips and tricks for boosting your confidence: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_NYrWqUR40

  2. I felt like this when I spent a year in the Adelaide Youth Sinfonia. I passed my audition, and got a place. It was the last cello chair – which meant that I was the least skilled out of the 10 cellos. But at least I was there. I still passed. I spent the whole year thinking that I shouldn't actually be there, however, and feeling inadequate every time I heard the others play. I felt that I didn't deserve a place in the orchestra and that the others would think I wasn't as good and shouldn't be there either. No one ever expressed that to me, and looking back, I know my fears were groundless. It was a valuable experience, and this video really helped to shed some light on why I felt the way I did.
    Thanks Ted-Ed!

  3. Oh thank god for this video. I came out and kept thinking I was a fraud and that I wasn't likecthe rest

  4. I feel like I would just be selfish and think highly of myself and an attention seeker if I just post something on the internet saying "hey, I'm here"

  5. I usually have this feeling especially when I'm in a new workplace and job, I feel lile I'm failingand not doing my work properly.

  6. I do feel this whenever I win an award of some sort for my art projects. However I feel like I don’t deserve it because to me it wasn’t that hard, therefore it felt like I took the “easy” route, or I somehow cheated, even thou I know I didn’t.

  7. I HONESTLY don't feel like i deserve to be in my school
    Although I'm doing my best i don't feel like it's for me it's for some1 else

  8. My high school would hand out a book award once a year to two students in the entire school who show exceptional kindness, integrity, and commitment. I won the award two years in a row and thought I didn't deserve it both times. The first time I got it I was surprised I heard my name, I was actually confused, I thought others in my school deserved it more. On the other hand the other student who got the award I thought she truly deserved it and I was chosen by mistake. The year after I was chosen again, and a different student got the second one. I again believed something had to be wrong. I looked at my own classmates and said, but this girl is super nice, she never even speaks slander of others while I do at times. I literally feel as if I was given these awards by mistake or that the administration simply favors me over the other students. So I guess this has a name. Also, this year I received an 100 as a final grade in AP Lang, my teacher told me personally that it was the first time that a student of hers earned an 100 and I simply thought "but there are better and smarter students, how could I be the first and how can it be that I got 100 on everything if I didn't always work my hardest?". Like I even asked my teacher why she gave me an 100 on a specific project, I do admit it came it really good and I worked 2 weeks on it, but it most definitely could have been better. Like my friends received lower grades who I thought did better than I did.

  9. We had to employ some non white people at work because tuere were too many white people in the office, so the best candidates didn't get the job. So nah this isnt real, it's just people who know they were selected because someone else better was discriminated against.

  10. I don't really think I'm smart or anything but somehow I've managed to get good grades by studying. Its common knowledge you'll get a good grade by studying but I tend to think I dont deserve the spot of being 10th honor because everyone is working as hard as me. This was really a nice topic to ponder on.

  11. I really do feel very doubtful about my achievements, and I often suggest myself that maybe I just got all of those things simply because I got chosen by accident. There are so many people who are smarter than me and I just think that I won the competition simply because there weren't that many amount of competitors who were actually more competent than me but decided not to join.

  12. Unbelievable. I never knew it was so common to feel this way. I always feel that i am lucky or privileged to complete my mphil, get good supervision, finish tasks etc etc. I accept so much toxicity from people around afraid that otherwise i would be exposed.

  13. In this course #Impostor #Syndrome: Your Kickass Guide to Recovery You will learn EXACTLY what

    you can do to turn those Impostor Syndrome feelings around once and for all.



  14. What is the name of the opposite syndrome wherein someone completely lacks the skills but believes that they are amazing at the task/job etc.?

  15. As a first gen I recently got accepted to UC Davis and have been feeling this feeling that I didn’t deserve to go to a college and that I didn’t belong. It’s nice to put a name to how I am feeling and that I’m not alone

  16. Because those who praise you… don't really know what it is you really do, what you really think, what is really happening to you, your pains, your worries, your restless madness.
    They only see what they want to see.
    They are foolish, and by accepting their valuations, you are also participating in this play-pretend.
    So yes… in a way… you are a liar, you are an impostor.

  17. I think I have this 🤔 it feels good to be educated about more and more disorders and syndromes the more the population becomes more industrialized. I have too much talent to the point where I kee it a secret so people don’t hate and judge me like they always do including relationship wise. I was diagnosed with bipolar but helloooo were all bipolar in this life it’s hard to pick and choose but once you do you can’t really say you have an identity crisis which is something people usually have in their mid 40s and when you’re younger. I hope everyone knows that o let you can choose your dream, and you’re mental illnesses can’t step on the way you just have to keep this kind of information private in America in order not to be judged and succeed being the judge mental, misogynistic country we live in 🤷🏻‍♀️

  18. Am I the only one who is finding it hard to understand that feelings of self-doubt or inadequacy = an imposter? Isn't an Imposter somebody who is pretending to be something they are not?

  19. If I think I'll fail I makes my mind work harder to succeed and I think I have imposter syndrome too cause I don't believe I'm good enough and I'm not

  20. I constantly think I'm not as smart as I was told I was but that doesn't stop me from sharing any ideas with others & enjoy my position .

  21. I do have talent but I just lost my job yesterday. They said I didn’t do anything wrong and had zero feedback. I have no money, I just started the job. This has been the worst week ever. My mom said she hated me because I took her gun away because she has Alzheimer’s, then I lose my job and my self worth is in the toilet. Also all of these mass shootings are so terrible, yet we just go on like there is nothing wrong.

  22. I feel like everyone around me has no struggle with University and being a grown up!
    even so a lot of people think that I am very smart and will succeed in my life anyways, it really hurts me, bc they don't know that I fail at the easiest everyday tasks. I worked in different jobs to finance my studies but can't keep any job. And I am so embarrassed when I see how slow i progress with my studies, while others are graduating already… really makes my self esteem go down and question my self worth. I struggle so much with life, but others seem to have the easiest life ever. And when I told a close friend about my struggles she said: 'don't make a big deal out of it, it's not that hard' and that really hurt me, bc she just ensured me what i though all along :/

  23. Talks about imposter syndrome tend to focus on those that clearly have the capabilities to deal with their workload, cases in which the fear of being unworthy can be easily disputed by one hard look at a report card. But this feeling can also occur in average students or students with adequate grades. Does this seem to imply that average students should continue to agonize themselves over whether they are good enough sinply because they are not at the top of their class?

    I feel like it would be beneficial if the focus was not only on understanding your own acheivments and using them to ground yourself in reality – but also understanding where this fear is coming from and why it might be beneficial (in small doses) is important.

    If you focus only on external signs of exellence that you "are ok" – you will not be able to cope as easily with true failure, or with a decline in achievments. If you will look for that straight A+ and not find it anymore it cam be a difficult experience for someone who has no inner sense of self worth.

    I find that my own insecurity about my achievements serves a positive purpose of pushing me to challenge myself and achieve more, or at least make sure I keep up with the objective expectations. When these percieved expectations grow out of check I feel that I may not be worthy of my status, but when they are grounded in the objective measurements (passing a test – instead of being in the top 10% of the class) they serve a purpose of geting me to plan ahead and be responsible.

    Focussing on the objective minimal requirement can serve to alleviate stress and free up time you would have spent worrying and preparing for an unimportant exam, and even allows you to focus on learning as a fun and interesting experience.

    My point is, understanding the positive and negative aspects of this phenomenon is important and leads to a better understanding of oneself and easier coping with difficulty. A cold hard look at "what's the worst that could go wrong" can force you to acknoledge whether you are overreacting to a percieved threat, or whether you are right to worry.

  24. thank you ted ed i love your channel i live in france but am fluent in english i'm 10 i am going to send you a letter and maybe you can give me a t short or not its ok just thank you

  25. A song to make you remember you're good and feel good things: https://youtu.be/9mwRYgMmSGE (this song is part of my soul seriously)

  26. these ppl feel this way because they are smart enough to know that soceity is twisted and resources are not equally divided. People much more talented then themselves are struggling to feed themselves while mediocre ppl with good families and some luck can become famous. This is why they feel guilty of their accomplishments. Unfortunately there is not much that they can do about this reality…

  27. I cried after that wash of relief knowing that there's such a thing for what I've been experiencing my whole life. I was a child author at 17, and I haven't produced any other books because I just so 'insecure' about my writing. I'm scared of feedback, but I need the feedback. . . Now that I know there's a term to this feeling, I feel better and maybe I can find a way to overcome it.

  28. I feel like, i had those. I got higher scores, and grades but i seem not glad about it. My classmates told me that i over react about my grades and told me to be satisfied about it. My personality makes them hate me lol. But i need to change this attitude of mine

  29. Sounds ridiculous but I have this sort of thing but with my taste in music like I shouldn’t be a fan of bands Cos I feel like I don’t deserve it?? Wtf 😂

  30. I feel like an utter failure despite being able to acknowledge that I have accomplished certain stuff. I also have this weird fear of my cover being blown despite doing nothing wrong. Every single achievement of mine feels like a fraud or crime that will get caught someday. Now at least I know it is not my fault.

  31. I don't like to listen to my music in public because I'm afraid no one will like it because I once shows my friend one of my favourite song and after a few seconds said 'I can't listen to that'. I know that sounds weird but I know feel ashamed of my music taste 🙁

  32. I came from absolutely nothing. No family support, no money, nothing. Now I make a comfortable living, a family, and a Masters Degree making over 100k a year. I am bless but sometimes my pass kills me.

  33. How to overcome imposter syndrome ?

    1) Make a report of why things go wrong.

    2) Feel more free to discuss academic/professional challenges.

    3) Have confidence in truths about your talent and skill.

  34. EnPeru no porque nos dan una nota de 20 puntos, quien tiene altas notas se las gana pero ocurre un fenomeno contrario, quien no supera esta barrera se siente estafado.

  35. Cure to imposter syndrome :
    1) Being an intentionally moral person …on purpose

    2)Having a great work ethic

    3) Celebrating your accomplishments

    4) Recap the 1st 3, periodically. Weekly, Monthly…at least once a 1/4…..so you KNOW undoubtedly who you are.
    KNOWING who you are is the OPPOSITE of imposter syndrome.

    Ya Welc💯🤙🏽

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