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Confront your phantom shadow inner child | Darn Wright

 

Last updated 8/5/2022 at 11:18am

Chuck Wright

It's talked about in articles on success. It's discussed in social psychology books. It's a topic at conferences and other training programs. It's addressed in therapy. But it's almost never a topic in the office.

It starts as a distant voice in our heads, but this inner critic often turns into a self-yelling, disparaging, gloomy attack on our self-esteem and self-worth. What is this shadowy phantom?

Back in the 1970s, psychologists Suzanna Imes and Pauline Rose Clance coined the term "imposter phenomena" or (syndrome) and, even though this "diagnosis" has not been entered into the mental health professional's Diagnostic and Statistical Manuel, many professionals and laypeople have incorporated the term into their repertory and are using it as a map on how to treat this anxiety disorder.

To quote Arlin Cuncic's Nov. 23, 2021, article, "Social Anxiety Disorder Symptoms," and acknowledging that imposter syndrome is not a recognized disorder, " ...It is estimated that 70% of people will experience at least one episode of this phenomenon in their lives."

I became extremely interested and thirsty for more information about this new self-worth topic after hearing it described to me by a lioness in her professional field.

After listening to this dear friend, I knew I had to have more information on this topic. I turned to others, books, professional articles, and to Google to learn more about this destructive mindset. What did I learn about this phantom?

If you think you are experiencing this unnerving imposter affliction, ask yourself the following questions:

• Do you agonize over even the smallest mistakes or flaws in your work?

• Do you often attribute your success to luck or outside factors?

• Are you very sensitive to constructive criticism?

• Do you feel you will inevitably be found out as a phony?

• Do you downplay your own expertise, even in areas where you are genuinely more skilled than others?

How do your answers to those questions associate with some of the common signs of imposter syndrome such as:

• An inability to realistically assess your competence and skills.

• Attribute your success to external factors.

• You find yourself often berating your performances.

• Have fears that you will not live up to expectations.

• You find yourself becoming very creative at sabotaging your own successes.

More often than not, you set very challenging goals and when you fall short of them you become a defeatist.

As your "yes, that's me" answers increase, this adds to your belief in your abilities going south, and this mindset dismantles your ability to be realistic in your self-analysis, which then grows more self-doubting.

A big problem with imposter syndrome is that the experience of doing well sometimes does nothing to change your beliefs. Even though you might sail through a performance or have lunch with co-workers, the thought still nags in your head: "What gives me the right to be here?"

The more you accomplish, the more you feel like a fraud. It's as if you can't integrate your experiences of success into your equation.

According to both Imes and Clance, and many other behavioral health researchers, eventually, "... these feelings worsen anxiety and may lead to depression. People who experience impostor syndrome also tend not to talk about how they are feeling with anyone and struggle in silence, just as do those with social anxiety disorder."

Although imposter syndrome may have some of the diagnostic variables as does social anxiety, the key difference is the words "may have some." Whereas this cannot be said for social anxiety since to be labeled as such they must have these traits

Even though the "impostor syndrome" is not a billable clinical diagnosis, your negative thinking, self-doubt, and self-sabotage can be the phantom that is influencing many areas of your life.

Major ways to confront this phantom is to talk with a behavioral health specialist and/or to one of your, hopefully, many mentors about your "phantom inner child."

Darn right, for the majority of those who are going through this painful syndrome, individual "talk therapy" is a major avenue towards dismissing your destructive phantom inner child.

 

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