Imposter Syndrome versus the New Narcissists

Most of us can remember when we walked into a new job title or opportunity and immediately felt that we didn’t have a legitimate right to it. We hoped that no-one would catch on that instead of knowing the ropes we were actually winging it, all the time hosting a dreadful feeling that we weren’t convincing anyone.

At times like this, when we convince ourselves that we don’t belong and that at any moment we might be found out, we are vulnerable. This is when we, through the haze of blundering along, convince ourselves that we will never really make it as the expert/leader/group member that we hope to be. Thoughts of looking for the next opportunity start to overwhelm us. For some people the self-belief of ‘unworthiness’ becomes the route to anxiety, if not an outright lowering of ambitions.

Contrast this with the group I call the ‘New Narcissists’ (actually not new at all). Members of this group laugh in the face of their inexperience and convince themselves that they must be right and that others should acknowledge their superiority and proficiency. This can work for a while, but there is a risk that the veil falls from others’ eyes after a while and the NN will be engineered out of the picture.

Cognitive dissonance is a powerful factor in both cases. We convince ourselves that we are not worthy or we convince ourselves that we are invincible. Both positions are damaging and based on self-belief that is not borne out by reality. Believing something about ourselves or others can be so powerful that we will bend our arguments to match this view. Being able to take a step back and be open to seeing ourselves in more realistic about what we should expect from ourselves and others is an important lesson to learn.