Trauma and Impostor Syndrome

I can across this great article on the increasing occurance of Impostor Syndrome in kids, especially those who are high performers. What I found interesting was this tidbit…

“Parents who have been successful yet have struggled with the pain of feeling like an impostor themselves worry they will pass this to their own kids.”

This immediately resonated with me. So often I have high expectations of my children as I have high expectations of myself, but that pressure is driven from the trauma of my own shortcomings and failures ( heck, it even made me nervous to write this blog post :-) . I see this a ton in parents that push thier children in sports; these parents on the surface look like they might be trying to live the life they thought they would through thier children, but the reality is that the trauma of past failures is so heavy that they see thier children as the way to repair that.

Trauma and Impostor Syndrome are very connected. We as humans are often motivated by fears versus opportunities.

Here’s another part I really found interesting…

“The antidote to perfection is a standard of good enough, and that’s a tough sell for a lot of us. Our anxiety often makes us feel that mistakes come with risk or make us less.”

There’s lots of talk of the balance of perfection and good enough out there, but I challenge you to look at it from a different angle - how are the fellow open source community members you weighed down by thier failures that makes them feel like they need to be perfect? Some examples of this…

  • People that comment on other people’s work but rarely contribute thier own work.
  • People that are critical of project direction, but don’t offer any other ideas.
  • People that take on tasks in a project, but never complete them.

The last one is a really interesting one - is that person in your community that you consider “unreliable” really just suffering from trauma and impostor syndrome? I’d challenge you to reach out to this person, using some of the tactics in the article…

“In addition to facing mistakes head-on, praising specifics is also important. “I notice you cleared your plate after dinner without me asking. That was great!” Praising effort not outcome is a great way to build a child’s confidence. For example, “I notice you put a lot of time and effort into that drawing. I see you used a lot of different colors. Will you tell me about it, please?”

Dr. Clance uses the word listen regularly. “I think it’s so important to take a look. Just take a little time, when you’re really rushed, to get wisdom and listen to kids talking.” Listening, really listening, is how we make children feel seen and heard. That’s the opposite of how people with IP feel, who are hiding behind a mask.”

What do you think about this? What suggestions would you have to tackle Impostor Syndrome in your communities?

Written on November 8, 2019
opensource   trauma