Holiday music is ubiquitous this time of year. It seems that every speaker within earshot of the public plays it all non-stop from mid-November through New Year’s Day. One song played frequently asks the musical question, “Do you hear what I hear?”
Please permit me to stretch the meaning of the question a bit. Everyone has an internal dialogue, a private mental conversation with ourselves. The insight from psychologists and therapists is instructive here, assuring us that most people’s inner dialogue tends to be negative. They also inform us that lawyers are among the professionals most likely to suffer from imposter syndrome, a “phenomenon occur[ing] among high achievers who are unable to internalize and accept their success. They often attribute their accomplishments to luck rather than to ability, and fear that others will eventually unmask them as a fraud.” (Kristen Weir, “Feel like a Fraud?” American Psychological Association (website), available at https://www.apa.org/gradpsych/2013/11/fraud).
The feelings associated with imposter syndrome include anxiety, depression, and self-doubt. Unfortunately, most people—including lawyers—remain quiet about imposter syndrome, preferring instead to suffer in silence. Why is this? Perhaps they think there isn’t help available or that they’re the only ones to suffer in this way. They may even fear there is some truth in their thoughts and risk discovery if they reach out for help.
Returning to the opening question, “Do you hear what I hear?” Concerning my own internal dialogue, I know the answer to the question is “no.” Like many lawyers and professionals, I often grapple with my inner critic and know firsthand how imposter syndrome feels.
I’ve also experienced the relief of asking for—and receiving—help managing imposter syndrome. The truth is imposter syndrome is common, especially among lawyers. There is help available. When imposter syndrome strikes, remember LCL is here to help.