Alesha Dixon, 41, was born in Jamaica to a family she described as “very dysfunctional” and witnessed on numerous occasions her mother suffering at the hands of her partner. Promising to never allow someone to dominate her the same way, Alesha grew up to be a feisty, powerful women who knew what she wanted and wouldn’t stop until she became a success. It was an attitude that proved to be fruitful as her career went from strength to strength, starting out as a singer and later being a regular fixture on television screens in shows like Strictly Come Dancing, Britain’s Got Talent, America’s Got Talent and currently The Greatest Dancer. Despite her powerful image, the singer was hiding a syndrome known by psychologists as Imposter Syndrome. What is it?
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Imposter syndrome is when one has a mindset that convinces sufferers that their success is undeserved.
The person dealing with the syndrome, often successful people, live with a pervasive sense that they’re about to be ‘found out’ and exposed as a fraud.
They believe their hard work and success’ are not deserved and can sometimes lead them to self-destruct.
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“A lot of people, even if they’ve not heard of Impostor Syndrome, go, ‘Oh yes, I can identify with that,’” said Alesha in an interview with the Daily Mail last year.
“It was quite crippling, it was something that really did hold me back, massively. Picking up the phone made me feel so scared and nervous to the extent that sometimes I didn’t do it.
“It could be anything, just picking up the phone to book a dance class.
“Something so simple to someone else I could build up as something huge, and my fear, or self-doubt, would stop me from doing it.”
Alesha learnt to cope with her syndrome by allowing herself to feel the fear, breathing and consciously overriding the thoughts.
She explained: “Even though I was petrified of most things, I would still throw myself into it.
“And I think that’s where the confidence came from. It’s about learning to silence the nagging little voice in your own head.
“My confidence did not come overnight. It was something that I had to grow into.”
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What exactly is Imposter syndrome?
The syndrome is a term used to describe the psychological phenomenon of intense feelings of self-doubt to the extent where one feels like a fraud, either in their personal or professional life.
The mentality is thought to be particularly prevalent in young people, with a 2017 survey claiming that a third of millennial have imposter syndrome due to feeling intimidated in the workplace.
The syndrome describes feelings of severe inadequacy and self-doubt.
Alesha added: “The difference now is that when I was younger, I was afraid to fail and put huge pressure on myself.
“I don’t now see failure as a bad thing or a hindrance; I look at it as a learning opportunity. If you get to the root of Imposter Syndrome it is about self-love and believing in who you are and saying, ‘I belong here, I deserve to be here.’
“Even if you’re petrified. I genuinely believe that everybody has something individual and unique to offer, it’s just tapping into it.”
Imposter syndrome is not an officially recognised psychiatric disorder, but researchers of the conditions suggest there are some common symptoms to look out for which include high levels of anxiety, doubting one’s achievement frustration and low self-esteem.
Other famous faces who’ve said they’ve suffered from Imposter syndrome include Michelle Obama, Kate Winslet and Emma Watson.
The NHS says: “If you’re struggling with Imposter syndrome, the best treatment would be to speak with your GP or psychological therapies service who may suggest trying a guided self-help course to see if it can help you learn to cope with your anxiety.
“Different treatments for anxiety have found the benefits of CBT last longer than those of medication.”
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