7 out of 10 people suffer from imposter syndrome


Through testimonials and the eyes of a psychoanalyst, discover the origin of Impostor Syndrome and the solutions that exist to alleviate it.

“I’m not legit,” “I would never do that,” “I was lucky.” If these phrases sound familiar to you, it may be because you, like most people, suffer from imposter syndrome. In fact, according to the Journal of Behavioral Science, 70% of people around the world suffer from this syndrome at some point in their lives. This phenomenon, identified in 1978 by Pauline Rose Clans and Susan Eames, two American psychologists, will be especially evident during transitions, when starting a new job, getting a promotion or starting a business. “It is often associated with a desire to conquer, unwittingly hampered by a very personal sense of one’s own illegitimacy. The concern lies around the idea that everyone will realize it‘, explains Veronique Salman, psychoanalyst and author The subconscious trilogy, understand it in order to get better.

This is what Lucas, an independent digital communications consultant, experienced when he launched his business: “When I had my first clients, and thus my first bills, I felt like a crook doing half of what I was when I was employed, when in fact I was spending 12 hours a day on my computer “.

Exhausting yourself to feel legitimate

Working to death is a common symptom for all impostor syndrome sufferers, to prove to themselves that they can do it. Florence, a former juvenile sector employee and now a business coach, was promoted in her career to a management position. To justify this new situation, I worked constantly. “I felt less competent than the others. To prove myself wrong, I collected the hours and wanted to be everywhereFor psychoanalyst Veronique Salman, anxiety that results in fatigue is interesting to understand:By definition, anxiety is not based on any fact, unlike fear which is a natural response to a real danger. By realizing the absence of truth from danger, the antichrist stops asserting himself “To get out of impostor syndrome, therefore, you have to establish the facts in every situation,”Like saying that you are recruited for verifiable skills, officially registered in CV, seniority, diploma, etc.“.

To overcome this anxiety, some people decide to postpone everything until tomorrow. “procrastinationVeronique Salman adds, It is a way to postpone the moment when skills and competence can be questioned. But it’s a vicious cycle: the more you put off the presentation of the file, the more guilt you feel for not sticking with it. So it’s best to check its box as soon as possible “.

narcissistic deficiency syndrome

If the vast majority of the world’s population suffers from this impostor syndrome at least once in their life, what is the reason? For Veronique Salman, this is explained by the lack of narcissism. “This phenomenon always goes back to childhood. The parents did not give their child or trust them enough. They do things for the child, and they help him a lot. Or, on the contrary, considers him independent too soon, letting him do it on his own and blaming him for not doing as well as he had hoped. Thus, the child is placed in a state of failure. The parent is narcissistic at the expense of the child. “…and this attitude, which is repeated in daily life, throughout childhood, is grounded so unrelentingly that the adult experiences himself as a being.”Nothing is enough or too much. In general, doubt that it is in the right place“.

This is how Lucas felt when he started his independent business: “My parents are liberal professions, but when I told them I would be self-employed, my dad answered “So you will be unemployed.” They were always there for me. And when I had my first clients, they were very proud to see the success of my business.“, assures the freelancer in the field of digital communication. The psychoanalyst assures him,”Not because of a lack of love on the part of the parents but because of a lack of accompaniment or often due to a parent’s rivalry with a child who unconsciously does not want to be crossed. How do you lose self-confidence? “.

Regain confidence through an outside perspective

To overcome impostor syndrome, you have different options. One solution is to seek outside advice. Florence, while training to become a business coach, had to undergo treatment. “That’s when I realized I had Impostor Syndrome, which was just a feeling. For his part, Lucas turned to the coach who accompanied him at the beginning of his activity for six months: “My entourage encouraged me a lot, but it didn’t have the same effect.“. If talking about your concerns to those close to you is an effective way to overcome the isolation caused by this syndrome, then Veronique Salman makes it a point of honor to call a neutral person:”It should represent a new link character, more secure than its predecessors. Someone who is considered reliable, stable and protective, will not judge a person and welcome them with kindness and active listening. Real presence reassuring“.

Individually, solutions exist to alleviate this syndrome. One of them is to record your victories in a table, like promotion for example, by describing the reasons for this success according to you and the real ones. “It is important to keep track of your successes to refer to them when in doubt. ‘ asserts the psychoanalyst.


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