The One Show: Jermaine Jenas says 'hayfever is killing him'
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Leaving The One Show in order to report on the lighting of more than 1,500 beacons to celebrate the Queen’s 70-year reign, the former Tottenham Hotspur midfielder will be in the thick of the action outside Buckingham Palace. It was when the star appeared on an episode of the British Army podcast The Locker that he shared some more intimate and vulnerable details of his mental health, explaining that his lack of confidence was ultimately brushed off by managers and coaches, leaving him to deal with it by himself.
“First and foremost, imposter syndrome is dealing with a lack of confidence and feeling like you don’t belong in a certain environment,” Jenas explained to host of the podcast and openly gay soldier Connor.
He continued to say: “People might be surprised to hear that even elite-level footballers have these periods throughout their career where they feel like this.
“It’s about figuring out ways that you can get through it, and I know during my time, I was left alone to figure it out yourself, rather than have a conversation with someone going through something similar.
“Or even managers and coaches recognising it within you; they’d brush it off and say, ‘Oh he’s just suffering with a lack of confidence,’ they’d never actually dig deeper into the reasons as to why you’re feeling like this.”
It is estimated that 70 percent of people will experience at least one “episode” of imposter syndrome during their lifetime. However, despite its frequency, little is known about the condition and the signs people should be aware of.
In the past, Audrey Ervin, psychologist and academic director of counselling psychology at Delaware Valley University defined it as a “series of experiences”.
She added: “It’s characterised by chronic feelings of inadequacy, incompetence, and fraudulence despite objective success. It’s hard to internalise success and genuinely hold the belief that you’re competent and capable.”
With the somewhat damaging effects the condition can have, the most common signs of imposter syndrome include the following:
- An inability to realistically assess your competence and skills
- Attributing your success to external factors
- Berating your performance
- Fear that you won’t live up to expectations
- Sabotaging your own success
- Setting very challenging goals and feeling disappointed when you fall short.
While for some people, impostor syndrome can fuel feelings of motivation to achieve, this usually comes at a cost in the form of constant anxiety. Many find themselves stuck in a vicious cycle that stops them from internalising success even when they achieve it.
Speaking more about his own experience with imposter syndrome, Jenas added: “I had a couple of moments struggling with imposter syndrome throughout my career as a player.
“It was playing for England and it was nothing to do with my ability or my deserving of the position I was in.
“It was more to do with your surroundings. It’s a bit like the ‘England Boys’ Club’. They’re part of the England Boys’ Club and you’re there but you’re not quite there, if you know what I mean?
“During my time playing for England we had Wayne Rooney, David Beckham, Michael Owen, Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Paul Scholes. They were world-class players playing for Chelsea, Man United, Liverpool, Arsenal, all legends of the game. And no matter how well I was playing, how well I was training – there was myself, Michael Carrick, Owen Hargreaves – we were just on the fringes.
“We just couldn’t seem to break through because the manager was set in his ways of, ‘They’re world-class players, they start and that’s it’.
“So you would kind of turn up to England and be like, ‘I’m not going to get a game here and I don’t really feel part of it’.”
Jenas went on to add that his challenges with imposter syndrome were also sometimes connected to his personal life, and other factors that have “rocked the boat”.
Although the cause of imposter syndrome differs for every individual, research has shown that the phenomenon occurs in people of all backgrounds, ages, and genders. In some research, family upbringing can play an important role.
For example, parenting styles characterised by being controlling or overprotective may contribute to the development of imposter syndrome in children.
Some individuals with imposter syndrome may also suffer from social anxiety disorder (SAD). Social anxiety disorder is characterised by people experiencing significant and chronic fear of social or performance-related situations where they might be embarrassed, rejected, or scrutinised.
This can be accompanied by various symptoms such as:
- Chest pain and tightness
- Blurred vision
- Dry mouth
- Feelings of unreality (derealization) or feelings of detachment from oneself (depersonalization)
- Heart pounding (palpitations) and racing (tachycardia).
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