“Have I ever thought I was a fraud? Maybe 18 hours a day. Do I spend more time damning myself than promoting myself? Absolutely.”
That is actor Gerard Butler (“Phantom of the Opera” and other movies), and he is far from alone in feeling self-critical about his creative talents.
See more of his quotes in my post Impostor phenomenon: Gerard Butler.
Jonathan Safran Foer, author of Everything Is Illuminated, which made The New York Times best-seller list, once commented, “I can be very hard on myself. I convince myself that I’m fooling people. Or, I convince myself that people like the book for the wrong reasons.”
Another example is one of my favorite actors, Tilda Swinton. The photo is from her movie “Michael Clayton,” for which she won an Academy Award.
As an interview guest on his show, Charlie Rose introduced her: “With her magnetic, ethereal charisma and striking androgynous looks, she has perhaps become most famous for her screen interpretations of cold and enigmatic characters. Her performances are subtle, varied and unique.”
And yet, she admitted, “I certainly never set out to be an actor, and I still find it embarrassing when I hear myself referred to as an actor. I expect real actors to stand up and protest: She’s a fraud.”
That kind of self-doubt also impacted Jodie Foster years ago, who said that before her Oscar-winning performance in “The Accused” she felt “like an impostor, faking it, that someday they’d find out I didn’t know what I was doing. I didn’t. I still don’t.” [From my article Gifted Women: Identity and Expression.]
With this sort of insecurity, fear and self-criticism, people who feel like impostors will often “play it safe” by avoiding exposure through competitiveness and challenge, maybe not even attempting a creative project, out of a self-limiting belief of being incompetent.
But, as the above examples show, it isn’t based on lack of talent or achievement – and fraud feelings or the Impostor Syndrome goes beyond lack of confidence.
In his book Toxic Criticism, Eric Maisel, PhD talks about how “criticism and self-criticism interfere with our ability to find our life purpose and live as strongly, passionately, and effectively as we would like to live.”
See more in his article: Silencing Self-Criticism.
Dr. Valerie Young, who has studied this for years, says that for impostors self-doubt is chronic, but can be changed. She refers to the book by Carol Dweck, Mindset, and says, “Our perceptions of what it takes to be competent, has a powerful impact on how you measure yourself and therefore how you approach achievement itself.”
She has developed a program: Overcoming the Impostor Syndrome.
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From Psych Central's website:
Julia Cho: "Least Likely Playwright Possible" | The Creative Mind (August 15, 2010)
Julie Hanks » Ask Julie: I Feel Like An Imposter (October 21, 2011)
Feeling like an impostor, a fraud (December 29, 2012)
Last reviewed: 23 Jun 2010