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Why Is This Important?
Because our hesitance to talk about our feelings makes things worse for us.
Long Story Short
A Business Insider article examines the “impostor syndrome,” a psychological phenomenon describing feeling like a fraud. Once thought to mainly affect women, recent research found that men are just as susceptible.
Do you ever wake up in the morning and fear that it could all just disappear, that your success in life is unearned and that you’ll be found out for the fraud that you are? If you actually are a fraud, congratulations on your career in politics, but for most of us those feelings would be decidedly unfounded. If the feelings persist, though, you may be suffering from something called “impostor syndrome” and Business Insider has a nice little article about what it is, and why it may be more devastating for male sufferers.
The term “impostor syndrome” was coined in 1970s, and for many years scientists believed that it only afflicted high-earning, successful women(because how could a woman spend so much time outside the home and not feel guilty about it, amirite?). That’s far from the case, according to researchers like psychologist Amy Cuddy. While it’s true that for years psychologists and psychiatrists didn’t hear many men discussing symptoms of impostor syndrome, more recent surveys have revealed that when they can do so anonymously, men are just as likely to admit it to feeling like a fraud.
That hesitance to express ourselves is why impostor syndrome can actually be worse for us. Expressing feelings of self-doubt isn’t traditionally “manly,” and we don’t react too well to people who defyaccepted gender stereotypes. So rather than get it off our chests and seek treatment, we’re more likely to keep quiet about our feelings. Do that for long enough, and you’ll absolutely lose your mind.
No one’s immune to it, either, regardless of their success. Will Smith and author Neil Gaiman have both opened up about having feelings out self-doubt, and on the women’s side Meryl Streep and even Maya Angelou have expressed fears that no one will enjoy their work.
Unfortunately, the best “cure” for impostor syndrome is also its cause: Communication. Being able to outwardly express your feelings of inadequacy or fraudulence will help you work through and debunk them, but that’s no easy task for most men. Otherwise, the best you can do it use it to your advantage — plenty of people have found great success because their self-doubt pushed them to achieve great things.
By Ian Lang
This story originally appeared on AskMen.