Q: I've been working for almost 10 years now, so marami na rin akong nagawa at natutunan. Objectively, alam ko naman 'yun. Pero sometimes, when I'm praised at work or may na-accomplish ako, I have this weird feeling na hindi ko deserved 'yon. Na parang nagpapanggap lang ako na meron akong alam. I Googled it and read about 'Imposter Syndrome.' Ito nga ba 'yon?"
What is Impostor Syndrome?
It's a term that was first identified in the '70s by Pauline Rose Clance and Suzanne Imes: "Women who experience the impostor phenomenon maintain a strong belief that they are not intelligent; in fact they are convinced that they have fooled anyone who thinks otherwise." Meta coach Sheila Tan actually doesn't like the term because it sounds so criminal, like you're a fraud. But that is exactly the feeling that people have, and it manifests more in people are super successful. "When they're praised, when they're given accolades, they start thinking, 'Do I really deserve this?' And no matter how much they work their ass off, they're gonna say, 'Maybe I don't.'"
She says, "Instead of just focusing on the label, I would go down to details. When do you feel it and how does it manifest? People sometimes feel it when there are people who criticize their work, [or] when there are haters. And people would think, 'What if this person is right? I'm not good enough. What if this person is right that [someone else] is better than me?'"
Often, this internal dialogue forms because of how people were raised, like if your parents ever told you that you're not doing enough at school or that you should be performing better. One way to turn this inner conversation around is to think about the positive intent. Sheila advises, "First ask yourself, 'What is the positive intention of this feeling? Maybe it is for me to upskill. Maybe it is for me to make sure that I'm always going for excellence. And once it has served its purpose, then ask yourself, 'What do I do to let it go?' Sometimes, it could be as easy as affirming, 'I am good enough. I give value to other people. I can give contributions.'"
When this feeling of inadequacy come up, Sheila suggests tapping your inner observer. What are you thinking? What kind of scenarios are you playing in your head? When was the first time you felt this way? Were you humiliated in class during a big presentation? Is it because your ex kept picking on your every move?
And once you realize what's happening, what can you do about it? "One of the simplest things that we could do is to breathe. Be in the moment. Just breathe. 'This is what I'm feeling and this is not helpful. And what is helpful to me is my message. Think about why [you're] here. Think about what value [you] can contribute to these people. So having purpose and meaning to what we do is something that we can mute that voice within us."
Sheila Tan is a meta coach and neuro-semantics trainer. She is also the president of Altius Coaching and Consulting. Sheila co-founded Flourish Circle, a community-based solution for mental health. Her advocacies include HIV awareness, women empowerment, and mental health. You can contact her through Altius Coaching's website, Facebook, or Instagram.
Do you need career, life, love, or mental health advice? We're here to help you, bb. Join our Cosmo Community on Facebook, post your question—btw, you can do this anonymously now—and use the hashtag #AskACosmoCoach.
Follow Ysa on Instagram.