Is It Really Imposter Syndrome or Something Else?

I don’t propose to know much about imposter syndrome, and I’ve seen several takes on what it is and what it is not. So, rather than trying to insert my thoughts into something that I am not an expert on, I’m going to name my own syndrome. It’s called ‘People aren’t thinking well of me’ syndrome or PatWoMES for short.

Here are the symptoms of my new non-scientific syndrome:

  • You think that your coworker doesn’t believe you’re pulling your weight.
  • You think that your leader is not sure you’re the right fit.
  • You think that people think you’re not committed to the effort.
  • You think that people aren’t clear on your input and explanations.
  • You think that people aren’t taking you seriously.

Maybe you’re right. Or perhaps you’re wrong.

I hate when I start thinking like this. My personal coping mechanism to myself is- “It’s not my business what someone thinks of me. People are entitled to their private thoughts.” Still, most of us want people to think well of us, and most people want to be liked and respected.

Honestly, this condition originates with me. It kicks in when:

  • I feel like I’m not doing all that I can do.
  • It kicks in when I’ve taken on more than I can reasonably handle, and I cannot give something the level of attention that I would like to.
  • It shows up when I’m stretched between multiple tasks and don’t feel like I’m bringing my A-game.

Those times are inevitable as we seek out balance and try to apply attention to the right things in the right proportions. So what to do? Or, what not to do?

I used to apologize for my imaginary infractions. And people would sometimes look at me puzzled. Don’t do what I used to do.

When these feelings surface, I ask myself where I might be out of balance. Is there something I’m doing that I shouldn’t be doing? Is there something that needs more attention and something else that needs less?

Consider the HERO Principle.

I once heard Kat Cole, former COO of Focus Brands, talk about something she called the Hero Principle. I apply the HERO Principle in whatever space I am struggling with these thoughts of perception.

The HERO Principle goes like this: If a new person showed up in the role tomorrow, what would they do in the position that I’m in now that would demonstrate their grasp of the objective and get some momentum going? Now – do that.

Sometimes, I take a look at my plan of action and tell myself:

1. Chill out. You are doing everything that you should be doing.

2. You can’t control the thoughts of others, just your actions.

In my humble opinion, sometimes this ‘People aren’t thinking well of me’ syndrome is merely my internal system trying to make sure I’m bringing my A-game.

Honestly, sometimes your B- and C-game is the reality, and you have to find a way to navigate your way back to excellence.


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