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  • Katie Ford

Is Imposter Syndrome a 'good' thing? Should we 'enjoy' it?

"Is imposter syndrome a good thing?"🙄

Every so often a post like this appears, and thus starts the "let's reframe it" story again.

And those sharing these stories are usually very well intentioned and want to help others, I absolutely get it.

But, I can't help but think: here we go again!

I wish we would stop over simplifying imposter syndrome.

As someone that has spoken on this topic for over 5 years, some thoughts. I see the harm that these misframed posts can do to people.

Here are my thoughts:

It's not 'always' a good thing.

Equally it's not 'always' bad.

It's actually pretty complex, so can we aim for neutral and work from there?

A syndrome is a set of signs that arise together, not a disease, often without set cause.

The actual 'cause' is the story that we listen to about a situation, and it often evokes shame or fear.

We never chose that story; it is the imposter, not us. It was formed from many different places - societal expectations, stereotypes, life experiences, trauma, fear of failure, and more. Everyone has a different set of inputs - many of them to keep us safe, serving purpose at one time in life, often not now. You can read more here.

Yes, it often comes at times of pushing comfort zones, the perfect time for the play button to be pressed on those stories with 'danger' and potential judgement.

  • Those who's story arose from trauma may find it difficult to 'enjoy' it.

  • Those with different or neurodivergent brains that have struggled to fit in with a system they never chose, may struggle to 'enjoy' it.

  • Those who visibly feel like an imposter in a workplace/society may struggle to 'enjoy' it.

It's like telling a kid they should enjoy being bullied because it's a sign the others kids are jealous.

Telling everyone they 'should' enjoy it lacks a deeper understanding of imposterism.

In fact, it creates a dissonance - an extra layer of pressure and self judgement of how they should be feeling about it.

Some individuals may absolutely find they can enjoy it, great.

I truly believe:

1️⃣ Tackling imposter syndrome starts with curiosity, compassion, acceptance and understanding; with help if needed. It's not a personal fault, but how it affects people is personal to them.

2️⃣ The vast majority of the pressures are societal - we have a much bigger piece to look at rather than putting pressure on the individual alone. So many of these beliefs are handed out throughout society; how is it that I can listen to the same stories of 'not being good enough' across the globe, from people who have never met, if there wasn't a societal implication?

What can we do as a society to re-write the script we keep handing down? Promoting inclusion, equity, opportunity and compassion.

Many studies shown the most affected are women and marginalised communities.

Observation without malice: the last 5 people I've seen make posts on how we should enjoy it have not been in these groups. They are people that are maybe sharing without awareness of their privilege.

Not saying those who post aren't affected, they obviously are, but can we consider all viewpoints when posting? Perhaps you can enjoy it, not everyone can that's reading your post.

Please keep sharing your insights, and telling your stories, but let's share it more as a "this is my story and what helped me - just if it helps you - I know everyone is different" rather than telling everyone how they *should* do it. ❤️

3️⃣ Can we become less attached to this label (ironic, I know) and more focused on compassion? I see so many times this mixed up with self-doubt in general, people forget it is often layered in with anxiety or other co-existing conditions and experiences.

When feeling like imposters we often to default to try become who we think we need to be to survive - forgetting who we actually are.❤️

Don't forget, I've packed this page full of information, subscribe to the mailing list and don't forget I have a book due out in Autumn 2023.


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