Charlize Theron recently spoke about suffering from imposter syndrome when working on new film Bombshell – something which is commonly experienced by even the most successful of people.
She admitted to feeling “shit scared” of taking on the role, and also feeling like “there’s somebody out there who can do this better than you can”.
Those who experience imposter syndrome feel that they aren’t “sufficiently competent or expert enough” to be in the position they are in, or that they don’t deserve it, explains neuroscientist Tara Swart. You might “attribute your successes to luck, or others’ mistakes, rather than your own skill, hard work or expertise”.
This feeling can lead to the tendency to self-sabotage – whether consciously or not – points out a recent report by Stylist.
Singer Ellie Goulding also recently cited suffering with the syndrome, which led to self-sabotage. “I know I chose this job but nothing could have prepared me for the ups and downs that come with it,” Goulding explained on World Mental Health Day.
“I know for sure that a lot of my anxiety has come from what they call ‘imposter syndrome’ not believing in myself enough and thinking that I don’t deserve happiness, which results in wanting to sabotage my own success.”
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So why do we self-sabotage? Judy Ho at Psychology Today explains that it’s actually a very natural response which stems from our instinct to avoid perceived threats and the relief that we consequently feel when doing so. When our desire to avoid threats is higher than the need to achieve, we become most likely to self-sabotage.
Ho explains that four elements that can lead to self-sabotage, including a shaky “self-concept” or a lack in the belief of identity; internalised negative beliefs in our own talents or abilities; fear of the unknown; and a need for control.
“We are essentially programmed to strive for goals because achieving them makes us feel good. That dopamine rush is an incentive to repeat those behaviours,” explains Ho.
“The trick, especially when it comes to self-sabotage, is that our biochemistry doesn’t necessarily discriminate between the kind of feel-good sensations we experience when we are going toward our goals and the ‘good’ feelings we get when we avoid something that seems threatening.”
When it comes to self-sabotage, Ho advises the best thing to do is understand where the feelings stem from and fight against the critical voices inside our heads.
From: Harper’s BAZAAR UK