Could you have Impostor Syndrome?

08/08/2018

LawCare details a common issue facing solicitors, and offers advice on how to manage it.

What is imposter Syndrome?

Do you feel like you’re not good enough, have a constant fear of ‘getting found out’ or making a mistake, or feel you don’t deserve your job or status? If your answer is ‘yes’, you could have Impostor Syndrome, like many callers to the LawCare helpline.

The term Imposter Syndrome was coined in 1978 by two clinical psychologists, Pauline R. Clance and Suzanne  A. Innes. It was originally recognised in high-achieving women but is now understood to affect men and women in equal numbers. Whilst psychologists are not in agreement about why the syndrome occurs, it can develop after experiencing constant criticism or a trauma in childhood.

Those with ‘Type A’ personalities, often prevalent in lawyers and other high achieving professions, often have Imposter Syndrome. Characteristics of a Type A personality include those who are impatient, driven, a perfectionist, constantly feeling a sense of urgency, and self-critical. These can all be very useful in the workplace but destructive in your private life.

Common symptoms

There are four presenting symptoms of Imposter Syndrome:

  • Anxiety.
  • Drive to Perfection.
  • Self-Doubt.
  • Fear of Failure.

Being haunted by a client matter or court case from years ago, regularly staying at work after everyone has gone home or continually going over and over something in your head, are just some examples of those with Imposter Syndrome that LawCare staff have encountered on their helpline. 

Tips for dealing with Imposter Syndrome

  • Acknowledge your feelings
  • Try to have a strong support system both in and outside of work – it’s okay to ask for help
  • Trust yourself and your ability
  • Give yourself credit for your accomplishments  both in and out of work
  • Learn to take mistakes in your stride – everybody makes them
  • Try to see yourself as ‘work in progress’
  • Realise it is ok to be ‘ good enough’ – nobody is perfect

For more wellbeing tips, visit the LawCare website.

Helpline

If you identify with some of the above and would like to talk, call the LawCare helpline on 1800 991 801, 9am-7.30pm weekdays, 10am-4pm week-ends and UK bank holidays. The helpline is free, independent and confidential.

eNewsletters

This article originally appeared in the July 2018 Law Society eZine. For more information, and to subscribe, see enewsletters.