6 Signs You Might Be Suffering from Impostor Syndrome and What to Do About It

FraudDo you think you’re a big fraud? Are you afraid everyone else is going to find out? It’s natural to sometimes feel inadequate but you could be suffering from a much more serious ailment known as impostor syndrome.

What Is Impostor Syndrome?

impostor syndrome is the internal belief that you’re not as competent as others think you are. It manifests itself when people give you praise or positive feedback. You might feel undeserving, even though all the evidence suggests that you’re highly skilled. At its worst, you may feel like a fraud.

The concept was first coined in the 1970s by psychologists to describe an experience often felt by athletes and business executives. They discovered that even the most recognized individuals often failed to understand their worth, which could cause performance problems.

impostor syndrome can cause a great deal of damage to your work, career, and personal life, so it’s important to recognize the signs early and take action to stop it.

1. Minimizing Your Achievement

People with impostor syndrome truly believe achievements are not a big deal. When someone praises you, you instinctually rebut it and deep down truly don’t believe that you’re deserving. You may automatically point out the contributions of others to minimize what you did.

2. Chalking It Up to Luck

People with impostor syndrome attribute their accomplishments to luck. They overstate the role chance plays in their lives, missing completely the skill and hard work that really made it all happen.

3. An Impossible Standard of Success

You may set an impossibly high standard of success for yourself and then feel that you don’t deserve to achieve it. One way to tell if this is an issue is to determine whether you feel fear or anxiety when you think about the goals you want to reach. This is a symptom of the perfectionism that’s often at the core of impostor syndrome.

4. Fear You’re Not Measuring Up

People with impostor syndrome often secretly fear they don’t measure up to other’s expectations. These could be the expectations of your boss at work, your family members, or even friends and business partners. No matter how often they confirm that you’re doing a great job, you feel like it’s never enough.

5. You’re on the “Impostor Cycle”

The impostor cycle is a pattern that starts with anxiety leading to intense over-preparation and planning. Driven by the fear of not doing a looming task well, you go through a frantic process of preparing. This may be accompanied by procrastination and excuse-making. When the project is accomplished, you feel a momentary sense of satisfaction until you think of the next undertaking.

6. You Don’t Ask For What You’re Worth

When you don’t understand your true worth, you don’t ask for what you deserve. This includes the pay you should be receiving. The feeling of inadequacy will impede your need to ask for a raise, quote your services, or make any other kind of big ask.

10 Tips to Overcoming impostor Syndrome

  1. Know the Signs. You’ve learned the signs here, so you can put this to use right now. Pay attention to your words and actions and interrogate the feelings that arise. Where are they coming from and why?
  2. Fight impostor Syndrome with Facts. The negative feelings you feel aren’t based on reality. Looking at the facts can help. Gather evidence that shows how much progress you’ve made and how much you’ve achieved then surround yourself with it when you need a reminder.
  3. Share Your Feelings. You’re not alone in feeling the way you do. Did you know that such obvious high-achievers as Michelle Obama and Maya Angelou have expressed these same feelings? Reach out to others who think themselves inadequate and share your feelings. This will help you put things in perspective.
  4. Learn To Not Compare. impostor feelings often arise from erroneously comparing ourselves to others. Remember that all of us are different and we all have our own paths. Avoid comparing yourself to others.
  5. Celebrate Your Successes. If you suffer from impostor syndrome, you’re focusing on your failures and shortcomings rather than your successes. Remind yourself of the exceptional things you’ve achieved.
  6. List up Your Strengths. Make a list of your skills, qualifications, experience, and natural strengths. Use this list to boost your confidence whenever you need it.
  7. Switch Negative to Positive. We often have negative self-talk driving our feelings of insecurity. Recognize the negative talk and replace it with something positive.
  8. Reframe Failure. What does “failure” mean to you? Reframe it so that it’s not something bad, but a valuable learning experience.
  9. Visualize Success. What would success look like? Imagine what it means to you and visualize yourself making it. This will help you with setting impossible standards and being more satisfied with your achievements.
  10. Let Go of Perfectionism. Focus on your progress and growth. Quit trying to be perfect. Adjust your standards and learn to do “good enough” while striving to do better.

Impostor syndrome infographic

Want to learn more about how you can fight impostor syndrome? Lynette Chandler has created a fantastic workbook on this very topic. It’s on sale right now but only for a very limited time. Head over here today!

I’m online entrepreneur Richard Rawlings (Rick) Smith. Who else wants to join me in creating an online business that allows them to enjoy the lifestyle they want and deserve?

2 thoughts on “6 Signs You Might Be Suffering from Impostor Syndrome and What to Do About It”

  1. From time to time I still experience the “imposter syndrome” you’re writing about here. I give myself no more than 24 hours to move past these feelings and then take action on the project or situation that brought it about. If we give in to these thoughts and feelings, everyone around us suffers – family, friends, colleagues. The only intelligent way to succeed is by moving forward every single day!
    ~ Connie Ragen Green

  2. Connie –

    Thanks for your comments. You’re exactly right.

    I’ve adopted a new affirmation that I use frequently. It’s pretty simple but it goes like this. “I’m in control of my own destiny because I’m always in constant forward motion.”

    When I use that affirmation and actually apply it, that is I move forward just like you said, the imposter syndrome goes away because I took positive action.


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