Imposter Syndrome

Have you ever had the feeling like you were a fraud, a phony, a fake, and you were afraid that people were going to find out?  Did you have this feeling because you had achieved something that you didn’t think you were worthy of?  Or that you were in a place where you knew you just didn’t belong because you weren’t good enough and it had to be from sheer dumb luck you made it there in the first place?  Will if you have you are not alone.  About 70% of all adults have some moment where they think this, it is called impostorism. 

The problem with this is when this thinking takes over your life and you never think you deserve your achievements or what you have accomplished.  In return you start thinking that if you don’t continue making these achievements or accomplishments everyone around you will find out you are a fake and never deserved any of them in the first place.  Despite evidence that proves this untrue.  This is called Imposter syndrome.  

Imposter syndrome is not an official psychiatric diagnosis.  So you cannot be diagnosed with Imposter syndrome.  Though individuals who suffer from this sort of thinking sometimes have other mental health issues that can be diagnosed such as anxiety or depression.  Imposter syndrome can happen to any at any point in their life.  Though it does tend to happen to women in high positions or successful careers.  


Risk Factors:

If you struggle with things such as self-efficiency, perfectionism, or neuroticism are all things that can lead to Imposter syndrome.  Other signs can be self doubt, inability to realistically assess competence or skill, attribute things to external factors, berating performance, fear of never living up, overachieving, sabotaging one’s own success, or even setting high goals and being defeated when those goals go unmet.  All of these can be the start of the Imposter syndrome cycle.  


Imposter Syndrome Cycle:

Imposter syndrome can become a vicious cycle that is hard to break.  You work extremely hard to cover up for being a “fraud”.  Then you do well after all this hard work only to think it was only achieved because you put so much time and effort into it.  Not because you truly worked hard and knew what you were doing.  Which then starts the cycle all over again because you have this fear of being found out that you have no idea what you are really doing.  Sometimes the more you accomplish the more you feel like a fraud.  And when your accomplishments or achievements are acknowledged sometimes this can trigger Imposter syndrome.  


There are five main types of Imposter syndrome. 

The first one being perfectionism.  This is when you feel like a fraud every time you fail.  You want everything to be exactly perfect and when it isn’t you feel like a fraud and are afraid that everyone around you will see this. 

The next type is the Imposter workaholics, or superwoman/man type.  This is when you work so hard at your job and still feel like you are a phony against real coworkers. 

Another type of Imposter syndrome is the natural genius.  This is when you base your competence on ease and speed.  So if something is really hard for you to accomplish or takes you a long time to do you feel like you have failed. 

A soloist feels like they cannot ask for help or it shows that they can’t handle something.  Asking for help can unmask the fact that you are a fake and don’t know what you are doing. 

Expert Imposter syndrome type is when you base your competence on what you know, and you will never know enough. 


Ways to Overcome Imposter Syndrome:

The first thing to do if you feel like you suffer from Imposter syndrome is to talk about it.  Tell someone how you are feeling.  Though they can’t fix how you think, letting them know and discussing what you think can be helpful in having someone keep you accountable for not overworking, or overstressing. 

Next a good thing to do is separate your feelings from fact.  Meaning if you feel like you are stupid this does not define you as stupid person forever.  Everyone makes mistakes and feels like they don’t know something at some point in their life.  So it is ok to feel that way. 

If you look around your office and you are the oldest person, or the youngest or you are just different than everyone around you, that is ok.  Sometimes you don’t fit in.  This does not make you less important or less accomplished as others.  Change your thinking to know that it is ok to not fit in. 

Another thing to do to help with Imposter syndrome is to stop comparing yourself to others.  The comparison game is so extreme these days with social media.  Step back and away and don’t compare your achievements against anyone else’s.  Going along with that, make sure you measure your own achievements.  Write them down and show yourself visually that you have accomplished so much and that nothing but you got you to where you are.  Reward yourself for these successes.  It is ok to treat yourself from time to time on the hard work you have done. 

Remember that this can take time to change your thinking and perception.  It is a good chance to help you learn to deal with failure in a healthy way.  We all fail at some point that is part of life so learning to grow from that failure instead of it impacting the way you think about yourself can help you push past this Imposter Syndrome.  


Read More:  10 Tips For Getting Unstuck



Impostorism affects most people at least at one point in their life.  It can be hard sometimes to not think you are a fake, phony, or don’t belong somewhere when you have achieved something you never thought you would.  Feeling inadequate or incompetent does not have to be forever.  Learning to change how you think, writing down your successes, owning what you have achieved, and learning to reward yourself over time you will learn to know that you are exactly where you are meant to be and you were the one who got you there.  


70% of adults will be affected at some point in their lives with Imposter Syndrome!



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