Everyone knows that everyone else feels like a fake, right? The term Impostor Syndrome has been around almost forty years, and media outlets regularly do stories on it as if it’s just been discovered.
You would think that knowing we’re not alone would help. Yet somehow, having company doesn’t make us feel any less like a fraud. It’s as if we think we are the only genuine fake because we are comparing our insides to everyone else’s outside persona.
When clinical psychologists described the syndrome in 1978, they thought it was unique to women. My guess is that women were just more willing to talk about it. Now researchers say that all types of people experience this phenomenon, especially if they feel different from others because of race, gender, sexual orientation, or other reasons.
I first became aware of it when a good-looking, successful, middle-aged male told me tearfully that “if people really knew me, they’d know I’m a fake. They wouldn’t like me.” I was stunned and deeply saddened that someone could feel that way.
At age eighteen, I was so out of touch with my own emotions that I didn’t know I felt the same way about myself!
Whatever you do, don’t take off your mask!
Just Say No to Condemnation
As a church leader, I hear the sentiment expressed over and over, in different words: “I am not good enough.” Always in a confessional or shame-filled tone.
Well, hell, of course you’re not good enough to please the scolding, shaming parental voice in your head! You are a human being, flawed and vulnerable and doing your best to muddle through life.
It’s a horror and a crime that many so-called Christian communities enthusiastically add to the judgmental, condemning voices in our heads. Shame! Sin! You’re going to burn in eternity!
Well, thank you.That was super helpful.
Those condemners are nothing like the God they claim to represent. I can’t know God fully, and neither can they. But I do know that if a voice in your head or a belief about yourself is not loving, it does not come from God, because God is love.
When Jesus was asked what the most important commandment was, he said to love God with everything you’ve got. And then he said to love your neighbor as yourself. (Luke 10:27). We are meant to be overflowing with love and compassion and grace towards ourselves.
We must first learn to love ourselves before we can properly love others from a place of healthy humility and self-acceptance. When we accept how beloved we are, just as we are, we won’t need to achieve or perform or prove ourselves. We won’t need to compete or manipulate. We can just be real. Now that’s freedom!
Thanks for the daily prompt of “fake,” WordPress.