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The last word on… Comparing your inside to other people’s outside

We’re all fighting our own battles, so treat everyone with kindness – including yourself, says Oliver Burkeman

Many of us are familiar with impostor syndrome – as you’re shown to your desk at a new job, you’re overcome by feeling like a fraud. Psychologists often attribute this to a lack of confidence, but there’s an even more basic explanation: the reason it feels like you’re the only one with an anxious internal monologue is that yours is the only one you can hear. We don’t have access to other people’s minds – so we’re forced to judge their emotional state by their behaviour. Unless they’re openly sobbing, or shaking with fear, others are always going to seem more in command than you. The punchline is that you seem exactly the same way to them.

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