Mental Health

Signs You’re Experiencing Imposter Syndrome (And What to do About It).

Have you ever felt like a fraud, like you don’t belong, or like you’re not good enough? You may be experiencing imposter syndrome, a psychological phenomenon that affects many people, especially in the workplace. It can lead to feelings of anxiety, self-doubt, and even depression. But don’t worry, there are ways to overcome imposter syndrome and start feeling like your best self again. In this post, we’ll explore what imposter syndrome is, how to recognize the signs, and what you can do to overcome it.

What is Imposter Syndrome?

Imposter syndrome is a psychological phenomenon where a person feels like they’re not really qualified for their job or position, despite their accomplishments. They feel like a fraud or an imposter, and they fear that they’ll be found out and exposed as a fake. This can lead to feelings of anxiety, self-doubt, and even depression. Imposter syndrome can affect anyone, regardless of their level of success or experience. It’s not a diagnosable condition, but it can have a real impact on a person’s mental health and well-being.

Young woman wearing a medical mask. Imposter Syndrome Concept.

Imposter syndrome can have a variety of causes, including perfectionism, self-criticism, low self-esteem, and cultural or social factors. It can also be triggered by specific events, like starting a new job, getting a promotion, or achieving a new level of success. Some people are more susceptible to imposter syndrome than others, and it can be especially common among high achievers and perfectionists.

What are the 5 Types of Imposter Syndrome?

There are five main types of imposter syndrome, each with their own unique characteristics:

  • The perfectionist – This type of imposter constantly strives for perfection and feels like they’re never good enough, no matter what they achieve.
  • The superwoman/man – This type of imposter feels like they need to be perfect in all areas of their life, from work to family to social life.
  • The natural genius – This type of imposter believes that they should be able to accomplish everything effortlessly and without any effort.
  • The expert – This type of imposter feels like they need to know everything about their field in order to be successful. They’re often afraid to ask for help or admit that they don’t know something, even if it would be beneficial to do so.
  • The soloist – This type of imposter believes that they have to do everything on their own and can’t rely on others for help or support. They may feel like they’re not worthy of help or that they’ll be judged if they ask for it.

The Perfectionist.

This type of imposter sets very high standards for themselves and often feels like they can never meet those standards. They may feel like they’re always falling short, even if they’re actually doing very well. Perfectionists often feel like they have to be perfect in every area of their life, from work to relationships to hobbies. This can be very stressful and exhausting, and it can lead to burnout and even depression.

The Superwoman/Man.

This type of imposter is often motivated by a desire to be seen as “perfect” in all areas of their life. They may take on too much, trying to do everything themselves without asking for help. They may feel like they have to be successful in everything they do, and they may feel like they’re not allowed to make mistakes. This can lead to feelings of stress, anxiety, and even burnout. Superwomen/men may also struggle with self-compassion and may find it difficult to forgive themselves when they make mistakes.

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The Natural Genius.

This type of imposter believes that they should be able to understand and master new concepts quickly and easily. They may feel like they’re a “fake” if they don’t understand something immediately, or if they have to put in extra effort to understand a concept. This can lead to feelings of shame and inadequacy, and it can prevent the imposter from asking for help when they need it. Natural geniuses may also feel like they have to hide their struggles or weaknesses, which can be very isolating.

The Expert.

This type of imposter believes that they need to be an expert in their field in order to be successful. They may feel like they have to know everything about their subject area and that they’re not allowed to make any mistakes. This can lead to a lot of pressure and stress, as well as feelings of inadequacy and perfectionism. Experts may also feel like they have to constantly prove themselves to others, which can be exhausting. They may also have a hard time admitting when they don’t know something, which can make it difficult to learn new things.

The Soloist.

This type of imposter often feels like they have to do everything on their own, without help from others. They may feel like they have to be strong and independent, and that asking for help is a sign of weakness. They may also feel like they can’t trust anyone else to do a good job, so they have to do everything themselves. This can lead to burnout, as well as feelings of isolation and loneliness. Soloists may also have a hard time taking breaks or setting boundaries, which can lead to unhealthy work habits.

What are the Signs of Imposter Syndrome?

  • Feeling like a fraud or a fake, even when you’re actually doing well.
  • Difficulty accepting praise or compliments.
  • Fear of failure.
  • Feeling inadequate compared to others.
  • Comparing yourself to others and feeling inadequate.
  • Difficulty admitting mistakes or asking for help.
  • A perfectionist attitude that leads to burnout.
  • Isolation and loneliness.

These are just a few signs that you might have imposter syndrome. If you’re experiencing any of these, it’s important to reach out for help.

What Does Imposter Syndrome Feel Like?

  • A sense of anxiety and dread.
  • Feelings of shame and guilt.
  • A sense of inadequacy and incompetence.
  • A lack of confidence.
  • Difficulty trusting others.
  • Self-doubt and second-guessing yourself.
  • Low self-esteem.


If you’re experiencing any of these feelings, it’s important to recognize that they’re a result of imposter syndrome, and that you can work on overcoming them.

How Does the Imposter Syndrome Affect You?

  • It can lead to burnout and exhaustion.
  • It can cause feelings of depression and anxiety.
  • It can damage your self-esteem and sense of self-worth.
  • It can make you afraid to take risks or try new things.
  • It can impact your career and relationships.
  • It can lead to social isolation and loneliness.
  • It can make it difficult to enjoy life and achieve your goals.
  • It can cause you to miss out on opportunities.
  • It can lead to chronic stress and illness.

Examples of Imposter Syndrome.

  • Feeling like you don’t deserve your job title or salary, despite your qualifications and accomplishments.
  • Feeling like you only got into college or grad school because of luck, not because of your hard work and intelligence.
  • Feeling like you’re not as smart or talented as your peers, even if your work is just as good or better than theirs.
  • Feeling like you’re not as good a parent or partner as you should be, despite evidence to the contrary.
  • Feeling like you’re an imposter in your social group, even though you have genuine friendships.

Causes of the Imposter Syndrome.

Feeling like an imposter can have many causes:

  • It can be caused by childhood experiences, like being criticized or bullied.
  • It can be caused by personality traits, like perfectionism or low self-esteem.
  • It can be caused by cultural or societal expectations, like the pressure to be successful.
  • It can be caused by mental health conditions, like anxiety or depression.
  • It can be caused by life experiences, like being in a new job or relationship.
  • It can be caused by the imposter phenomenon, which is a specific psychological experience.

Childhood Experiences.

For example, a child who is criticized or bullied may start to feel like they’re not good enough. This can create a sense of inadequacy that carries into adulthood. This can then lead to feelings of imposter syndrome in adulthood, such as feeling like you don’t deserve your job or relationship or feeling like you’re not good enough. This is just one example of how childhood experiences can contribute to imposter syndrome.

Personality Traits.

People with certain personality traits may be more likely to experience imposter syndrome. For example, perfectionists may feel like they’re never good enough, no matter what they accomplish. People with low self-esteem may feel like they don’t deserve success or happiness. People who are overly self-critical may always focus on their flaws, rather than their accomplishments. These personality traits can make it more likely that a person will experience imposter syndrome.

Cultural or Societal Expectations.

In our society, there is often a lot of pressure to be successful, whether it’s in your career, relationships, or finances. This can create unrealistic expectations for people, which can lead to feelings of imposter syndrome. For example, a person may feel like they’re not successful enough because they don’t have the big house, the fancy car, or the high-paying job that they feel they should have. These societal expectations can cause a lot of stress and pressure, which can contribute to imposter syndrome.

Mental Health Conditions.

People with certain mental health conditions may be more likely to experience imposter syndrome. For example, people with anxiety may worry that they’re not good enough or that they’re going to fail, which can lead to feelings of imposter syndrome. People with depression may have negative thoughts about themselves, which can contribute to feelings of inadequacy. Mental health conditions can make it difficult to think clearly and positively about yourself, which can make it more likely that you’ll experience imposter syndrome.

Imposter Phenomenon.

This is a specific psychological experience where a person feels like they’re an imposter, even if there’s no evidence to support that belief. People with this experience may feel like they’ve fooled others into thinking they’re more competent or successful than they really are. They may also feel like they’re about to be “found out,” which can cause a lot of stress and anxiety. The imposter phenomenon can happen to anyone, regardless of their actual success or competence.

The Imposter Phenomenon as a Career Stage.

This is a specific theory about the imposter phenomenon that suggests that it’s more likely to happen at certain points in a person’s career. For example, a new employee may feel like they don’t deserve their job and are afraid they’ll be fired. A mid-career employee may feel like they’re not as successful as their peers and are afraid they’ll be passed over for promotions. A senior employee may feel like they’ve only gotten to where they are because of luck, not skill.

Gender.

Studies have shown that women are more likely to experience imposter syndrome than men. This may be because women are held to higher standards and are more harshly judged than men. They may also feel like they have to prove themselves more than men do. Women may also be more likely to experience “imposter phenomenon by proxy,” where they feel like their success is because of luck or other people’s help, rather than their own abilities.

How to Cope with Imposter Syndrome.

  • Recognize that you’re experiencing imposter syndrome.
  • Challenge your negative thoughts and feelings.
  • Focus on your strengths and accomplishments.
  • Build a support network.
  • Take care of yourself.
  • Be kind to yourself.
  • Celebrate your successes.
  • Seek professional help if needed.

Recognizing Imposter Syndrome.

Sometimes, it can be hard to tell if you’re really experiencing imposter syndrome or if you’re just feeling insecure or nervous about a new situation. Some signs that you may be experiencing imposter syndrome include: feeling like a fraud, doubting your abilities, having a fear of failure, comparing yourself to others, feeling like an imposter even when you’ve achieved success, and feeling like you don’t deserve your success.

Challenging Your Negative Thoughts and Feelings.

This is an important step in overcoming imposter syndrome. Here are some ways to do that:

  • Question your negative thoughts. For example, if you think “I’m going to fail at this,” ask yourself “What evidence do I have to support that thought?”
  • Change your negative thoughts into positive ones. For example, instead of “I’m going to fail,” think “I’m going to try my best and learn from any mistakes.”
  • Remember that thoughts are not facts. Just because you think something doesn’t mean it’s true.

Focusing on Your Strengths and Accomplishments.

When you’re experiencing imposter syndrome, it’s easy to forget about all of your strengths and everything you’ve achieved. But it’s important to remember that you’re capable and have had success in the past. Here are some ideas for how to do that:

  • Write down your strengths and accomplishments.
  • Ask friends or family to remind you of your strengths.
  • Post positive affirmations around your workspace or home.
  • Meditate or use other relaxation techniques to boost your confidence.
  • Visualize yourself doing well.

Building a Support Network.

Imposter syndrome can be very isolating, but having a support system can make a huge difference. Here are some ideas for building a support network:

  • Connect with friends or family who are supportive and positive.
  • Join a support group for people with imposter syndrome.
  • Talk to a therapist or counselor about your feelings.
  • Seek out mentors or role models who can help you feel more confident.
  • Join a professional organization related to your field.
  • Connect with other people online who understand what you’re going through.

Taking Care of Yourself.

When you’re experiencing imposter syndrome, it’s easy to neglect your self-care. But taking care of yourself is crucial to overcoming imposter syndrome. Here are some ways to do that:

  • Get enough sleep.
  • Eat healthy foods.
  • Exercise regularly.
  • Take breaks when you need them.
  • Engage in relaxing activities like reading, yoga, or journaling.
  • Don’t overcommit yourself – say no to things you don’t have time for.
  • Practice mindfulness and gratitude.
  • Seek out positive experiences.

Being Kind to Yourself.

One of the biggest challenges of imposter syndrome is the negative self-talk that comes with it. It’s important to learn how to treat yourself with kindness and compassion. Here are some ideas:

  • Stop beating yourself up for mistakes.
  • Talk to yourself like you would a friend.
  • Forgive yourself for not being perfect.
  • Recognize your accomplishments, no matter how small.
  • Give yourself permission to take risks.
  • Celebrate your unique gifts and talents.
  • Allow yourself to feel your feelings, even if they’re negative.

Visualization.

Visualization is a powerful tool that can help you overcome imposter syndrome. The idea is to use your imagination to create positive images of yourself that can replace the negative thoughts and feelings that come with imposter syndrome. Here’s how to do it:

  • Find a quiet place where you can sit or lie down comfortably.
  • Close your eyes and take a few deep breaths.
  • Imagine yourself doing something you enjoy and doing it well.
  • Focus on the details of the experience, including the sights, sounds, smells, and feelings.

Accepting Failure.

It’s inevitable that you’ll make mistakes or experience failure at some point. But it’s how you react to those experiences that matters. Learning to accept failure can help you overcome imposter syndrome. Here are some tips:

  • Don’t take failure personally.
  • Try to see failure as a learning experience.
  • Don’t let failure stop you from trying again.
  • Embrace imperfection.
  • Celebrate even small successes.

These are just some ideas, but there are many ways to accept failure. The key is to find what works for you.

6 Ways to Overcome Imposter Syndrome.

Here are six strategies for overcoming imposter syndrome:

  • Talk to others about how you’re feeling.
  • Recognize your successes, no matter how small.
  • Set realistic goals and celebrate when you achieve them.
  • Focus on your strengths instead of your weaknesses.
  • Challenge negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones.
  • Practice self-compassion and be kind to yourself.

Who Can Experience Imposter Syndrome?

Imposter syndrome can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, race, religion, or socioeconomic status. However, there are some groups that are more likely to experience it than others. For example, women are more likely to experience imposter syndrome than men. This is likely due to societal expectations and stereotypes about gender. In addition, people of color, LGBTQ+ individuals, and people with disabilities may be more likely to experience imposter syndrome. This is often due to a lack of representation and stereotypes about these groups.

Is Imposter Syndrome a Mental Illness?

Imposter syndrome is not classified as a mental illness, but it can be related to mental health conditions such as anxiety and depression. It can also be a symptom of certain personality traits, such as perfectionism or low self-esteem. Imposter syndrome is sometimes considered a part of normal human psychology, but it can be problematic if it interferes with your life and well-being. So, while it’s not an official mental illness, it can have a negative impact on your mental health.

When to Contact My Doctor About Imposter Syndrome?

If your imposter syndrome is causing significant distress or impacting your daily life, it’s a good idea to talk to a doctor or mental health professional. They can help you understand your triggers and provide support and guidance. Some signs that it may be time to seek help include:

  • Feeling depressed, anxious, or hopeless.
  • Having difficulty concentrating or focusing.
  • Experiencing changes in eating or sleeping habits.
  • Feeling isolated or alone.
  • Avoiding social situations or activities you once enjoyed.
  • Experiencing physical symptoms like headaches or stomachaches.
  • Having obsessive or intrusive thoughts.

What Triggers Imposter Syndrome?

There are many possible triggers for imposter syndrome, but some of the most common ones include:

  • Feeling like you don’t belong or fit in.
  • A new or unfamiliar situation or challenge.
  • Feeling like you’re not as competent or qualified as others.
  • Being compared to others or feeling like you have to compete.
  • Doubting your abilities or feeling like you’re not good enough.
  • Fearing failure or embarrassment.

It’s important to identify your own triggers so that you can address them and move past them.

Why do I Feel Like a Fraud? And how do I Stop Feeling Like a Fraud?

There are many possible reasons why you might feel like a fraud. It could be due to your upbringing, where you were told to downplay your achievements or be humble. Or it could be due to your environment, where you feel pressure to succeed or to live up to others’ expectations. It could also be due to past experiences, such as being criticized or not feeling good enough. There are many possible causes, and it’s important to understand what is driving your feelings of fraudulence.

Once you understand the causes of your feelings of fraudulence, you can start to address them. One strategy is to challenge the negative thoughts that are fueling these feelings. You can do this by questioning whether they’re true or by reframing them in a more positive light. For example, if you’re telling yourself that you’re a fraud because you’re not as successful as others, you could reframe that thought by focusing on your own achievements and progress.
It’s also important to build up your self-confidence and self-esteem.

To build up your self-confidence, you can practice affirmations, set small goals and celebrate your successes, and focus on your strengths. You can also find ways to improve your self-esteem, such as doing things you enjoy, connecting with others, and taking care of yourself. Over time, these strategies can help to boost your confidence and reduce your feelings of fraudulence.
Remember, it’s okay to feel like a fraud sometimes. Everyone has doubts and insecurities, and it’s a part of being human. Just try to focus on the positive and keep moving forward.

What is the Best Way to Fight Imposter Syndrome?

Self Confidence.

It’s true that building self-confidence is one of the best ways to combat imposter syndrome. When you have self-confidence, you feel more secure in yourself and your abilities. This makes it easier to resist the feelings of inadequacy and insecurity that come with imposter syndrome. Here’s how self-confidence can help:

  • Self-confidence gives you a sense of control. When you feel in control of your life and your situation, you’re less likely to feel insecure or inadequate.
  • Self-confidence helps you to take risks.

When you have confidence in yourself, you’re more likely to take risks and push yourself outside of your comfort zone. This is important because imposter syndrome can often lead to a fear of failure or a fear of rejection. By taking risks, you can prove to yourself that you’re capable of more than you thought, which can help to overcome imposter syndrome.

  • -Self-confidence makes you more resilient.

When you have confidence in yourself, you’re better equipped to deal with failure and rejection. This resilience can help you to bounce back from setbacks and keep moving forward.

Is There a Cure for Imposter Syndrome?

There is no one-size-fits-all cure for imposter syndrome, as it can manifest in different ways for different people. However, there are a few key strategies that can help to reduce the impact of imposter syndrome and lead to a more positive mindset.

  • Recognize your own strengths and accomplishments. Make a list of the things you’re good at and the things you’ve achieved. This can help to remind you of your own value and worth.
  • Practice self-compassion. Be kind to yourself and treat yourself the way you would treat a friend who is struggling with imposter syndrome.

How Imposter Syndrome Can Show Up in a Relationship.

vector illustration of man shocking and screaming with wig off while woman unmasking face. Imposter syndrome concept.

Imposter syndrome can show up in a relationship in a number of ways. Here are a few examples:

  • You may feel like you’re not good enough for your partner.
  • You may feel like your partner is too good for you.
  • You may feel like you’re not doing enough in the relationship.
  • You may feel like your partner doesn’t really love you.
  • You may feel like your partner is going to leave you for someone better.
  • You may feel like you’re being judged by your partner or their family and friends.

These feelings can lead to negative behaviors in the relationship, like:

  • Neediness,
  • Jealousy,
  • Insecurity, and
  • Withdrawing from your partner.

The good news is that there are ways to work through these issues and improve your relationship. If you’re feeling these things, it’s important to talk to your partner about what you’re feeling and find ways to work through them together.

  • Imposter syndrome can also affect your sex life. If you’re feeling insecure or inadequate, you may have difficulty with intimacy. It’s important to communicate with your partner and find ways to be intimate in a way that feels comfortable for both of you.

How Can Imposter Syndrome Affect Relationships?

Set of Male and Female Characters Hiding Faces Behind Social Masks With Fake Positive or Indifferent Emotions. Men and Women Disguising Real Mood and Feelings. Cartoon People Vector Illustration

Imposter syndrome can have a negative impact on relationships in a number of ways. For example, it can lead to:

  • Conflict,
  • Distance, and
  • Resentment.

When one partner is feeling insecure or inadequate, they may become more critical of their partner or less willing to share their feelings. This can create tension in the relationship and make it difficult to feel close to each other. In addition, the partner who is experiencing imposter syndrome may feel like they’re not worthy of love or affection, which can make it difficult to enjoy intimacy with their partner.

  • Imposter syndrome can also lead to feelings of jealousy and insecurity.

6 Ways to Overcome Imposter Syndrome in a Relationship.

In relationships, imposter syndrome can be especially challenging. Here are six ways to overcome it:

  • Communicate with your partner honestly and openly.
  • Don’t compare yourself to others.
  • Be vulnerable and let your partner see your imperfections.
  • Accept and appreciate your partner’s imperfections.
  • Show appreciation for your partner’s strengths.
  • Celebrate the little things in your relationship.

It’s okay to have ups and downs in any relationship. Don’t let imposter syndrome get in the way of your happiness.

Oluchi Grace Anugwa.

The Key Takeaway.

Imposter syndrome is a common problem that can have a negative impact on self-esteem, relationships, and career success. However, it is possible to overcome imposter syndrome with strategies such as building self-confidence, recognizing strengths and accomplishments, practicing self-compassion, and seeking professional help if needed. Remember, you are not alone in this experience, and there is hope for improvement. Be patient and kind to yourself as you work to overcome imposter syndrome and achieve your full potential.

FAQs on the Imposter Syndrome.

Can anyone have imposter syndrome?

Yes, imposter syndrome can affect anyone, regardless of age, gender, race, socioeconomic status, or level of success. It is not specific to any one group of people.

How does imposter syndrome affect your mental health?

Imposter syndrome can negatively impact your mental health in a variety of ways. Common effects include anxiety, depression, stress, and feelings of inadequacy or worthlessness.

Is imposter syndrome a real condition?

Imposter syndrome is not a medical or psychological diagnosis, but it is a very real and common experience. Some experts argue that it should be considered a distinct psychological phenomenon, while others believe it is simply a symptom of other conditions such as anxiety or low self-esteem. Regardless of its classification, imposter syndrome is a real and valid experience that many people face.

Is imposter syndrome genetic?

There is no conclusive evidence that imposter syndrome is genetic.

Is imposter syndrome a good thing?

Imposter syndrome is not considered a good thing, as it can cause stress, anxiety, and low self-esteem. However, it is possible to reframe imposter syndrome as a positive experience. For example, it can be a sign that you are ambitious and driven to achieve success. It can also be a motivator to push yourself to be the best you can be. So, while imposter syndrome can be a negative experience, it doesn’t have to be.

How do you stop imposter syndrome?

To stop imposter syndrome, there are several strategies you can try:

  • Recognize and challenge your negative thoughts.
  • Practice self-compassion and self-care.
  • Build up your self-confidence.
  • Seek social support.
  • Be kind to yourself and give yourself credit for your achievements.
  • Avoid comparing yourself to others.
  • Remind yourself that perfection is not the goal.
  • Set realistic goals and expectations.

By implementing these strategies, you can start to overcome imposter syndrome.

Can imposter syndrome be good for you?

While imposter syndrome is typically considered a negative experience, it’s possible that it can have some positive effects. For example, it can motivate you to work harder and strive for success. It can also help you stay humble and avoid complacency. And it can push you to be more self-aware and reflective. So, while imposter syndrome is not a desirable state to be in, it doesn’t have to be all bad.

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