Imposter Syndrome and Spiritual Success

It is easy to feel like you aren’t good enough, but recognizing why we feel this way can help us overcome self-doubt and more fully accept success in our lives.

You may have heard the term imposter syndrome floating around recently. Scientific American defines the phenomenon as “a pervasive feeling of self-doubt, insecurity, or fraudulence despite often overwhelming evidence to the contrary.” I never gave the term much thought until I had the opportunity to interview for a new job. After working in a custodial position for my entire college career, the prospect of getting a job that would provide experience in my chosen field seemed too good to be true. After the interview, I was extremely surprised when the employer actually offered me the job! I was so surprised, in fact, that I almost turned the offer down.

Photo by Matthew Hamilton.

Why would I turn down such a great opportunity? Because I was convinced that my potential employer didn’t understand how unqualified I was. Even though I had been clear with her about my level of experience, I was certain that if I took the job, she would think that I had somehow tricked her into hiring me. This is when I realized that I was suffering from imposter syndrome, and that it was influencing my life—and my spiritual success.

Kevin J. Worthen gave a commencement speech at Brigham Young University addressing our spiritual success. He says that “your success, here and beyond, will ultimately be measured by what you become, by your character…. As important and as powerful as it is to learn some truth or to do some good act, it is much more important to be true and to be good.” I was so worried about my earthly qualifications, learning, and job experience that I forgot their whole point—to ultimately reach my full spiritual potential. Sometimes eternal progression involves changes that may scare us at first, but they are for our growth and betterment. Self-doubt can keep us from embracing healthy change in our lives and thus keep us from spiritual growth. I was allowing my self-doubt to stunt my eternal progression and keep me from reaching my full spiritual potential. The Family: A Proclamation to the World acts as a great reminder  of this spiritual potential when it says that each person is a “beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny.”

Thankfully, I overcame my self-doubt, accepted the job, and have learned even more about my potential and abilities since then. So the next time you feel so full of self-doubt that you are tempted to stop yourself from moving forward, remember that your potential goes beyond this world.

Read more of Kevin J. Worthen’s commencement speech “Commemorating Your Divine Potential.”

Source: BYU Speeches

—Kimber Severance, Mormon Insights


Find more insights

Watch a TED-Ed video about imposter syndrome.

Read an Ensign article by Arianna Devite, “Lo, I Am with Thee.”

Read the full version of The Family: A Proclamation to the World.

Read an article all about imposter syndrome from Scientific American, What Is Impostor Syndrome?” 

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