In last month’s issue, we looked at what imposter syndrome is; now we’ll examine what it might look like, why we have it, and what we can do about it in order to better understand it.
Individuals react and respond differently to their experience of imposter syndrome. Researchers found five common types; they are perfectionists, experts, soloists, natural geniuses, or superheroes. Try this quiz to see which one you identify with. What’s interesting is that no matter which type you are, the feelings you’re left with are the same: failure and shame.
Scientific research suggests other factors that can also influence your likelihood of feeling like an imposter, such as your family upbringing, personality traits, mental wellbeing, and your current environment.
[Insert Image – The Feeling Wheel by Gloria Wilcox]
If we look at the Feelings Wheel, first developed in 1982 by Dr. Gloria Willcox, we can see that feelings of self doubt, inadequacy, and overwhelm all stem from the primary emotion of fear. It’s basically that reptilian part of your brain trying to protect you from saber-toothed tigers, or anything your brain perceives as dangerous.
It’s your brain’s way of keeping you safe.
But, realistically, writing a novel will not kill you. For indie authors, imposter syndrome might manifest as procrastination, extensive and unnecessary research, or spending a long time editing, or never feeling quite ready to hit that publish button.
Journaling can be a very helpful way of getting to the root cause of your emotions. Perhaps start by noticing when you’re feeling like a fraud and asking questions such as “Where is this coming from?” Just getting your thoughts onto paper is often therapeutic.
Also, try debunking any negative thoughts by listing your achievements. Imposter syndrome can come from not feeling accomplished enough, so listing all your big (and small) achievements will go a long way to proving to yourself that you are good enough.