Imposter Syndrome Defined and Symptoms
You really need to understand imposter syndrome so that you
can confirm whether you are experiencing it or not. Everyone feels like an
imposter sometimes and this is pretty natural. In this article, we will provide
a definition of imposter syndrome and discuss some of the most common symptoms. As you scroll down our blog, you will find the entire series that defines they types of imposters, ways to overcome those negative feelings and how to keep them at bay. Enjoy!
What exactly is Imposter Syndrome?
Imposter syndrome is where you are regularly experiencing
thoughts and feelings that you are a fraud. Please note the word “regularly”
here. Experiencing these thoughts now and again is not imposter syndrome.
A person that experiences imposter syndrome will believe
that they do not deserve to be where they are. This can be in a specific job
position and even owning a business. Imposter syndrome can also arise in your
personal life. You may feel that you do not deserve your spouse or your family
When you experience imposter syndrome you are going to feel
a lot more anxious than usual. You can become terrified that you will be found
out as an imposter and that the consequences will be dire. Some people that
suffer from imposter syndrome feel like their whole world is imploding.
There is a link to your Emotions with Imposter Syndrome
If you are experiencing imposter syndrome then this will
make you feel lousy. It will change your state of mind and you can experience
all kinds of negative emotions. Feeling like a fraud all of the time is not
going to be pleasant.
Imposter Syndrome is Always Likely
The truth is that there are many people that are
experiencing imposter syndrome right now. Experts predict that as many as 70% of
the population will suffer from imposter syndrome at one point in their life.
It is possible to experience it more than once.
Self-Doubt Caused by Imposter Syndrome
One of the most common symptoms with imposter syndrome is an
increase in self-doubt. If you have noticed that your self-esteem has really
tanked recently, this could be due to thinking that you are an imposter.
A lot of people that experience imposter syndrome start to
develop perfectionist tendencies. The reason for this is likely to be that they
feel they need to do everything perfectly to prove to others that they are not
an imposter. Perfectionism has a lot of drawbacks. Nobody and nothing in life
Perform Better than Others
Another symptom of imposter syndrome is the desire to always
perform better than other people. Again, we believe that the rationale behind
this is the need to prove that you are not a fraud. People suffering from
imposter syndrome often work a lot harder than others to ensure that they are
seen to be the top performer.
Imposter Syndrome can Result in Self-Sabotage
People that regularly experience feelings of being an
imposter are more prone to self-sabotage. They may be progressing really well
and then suddenly do something to undo all of their good work. The reason for
this is that they probably have a self-confidence crisis and think that they
are not good enough.
Unable to Accept Compliments
If you are experiencing imposter syndrome you may find it
tough to accept compliments from others. You do not feel like you are worthy,
so any compliments received can be ignored because you believe that people are
just feeling sorry for you.
The Five Types Of Imposters
One of the most influential people in the world of imposter
syndrome is Dr Valerie Young. She has written a book on the subject which is
based on here research. As a result of her research, Dr Young has also
identified five distinct types of imposters. This is important for you to know
as it can help you to overcome imposter syndrome.
1. The Perfectionist Imposter
Some people that experience regular feelings of being a
fraud will develop perfectionist tendencies. They start to believe that they
need to provide proof to others that they are not an imposter and doing
everything perfectly is the best way to do this.
But nothing and nobody is perfect in this world so this is
doomed to failure from the start. When you are a perfectionist, it will take
you a lot longer to complete anything – that’s if you can complete anything at
Perfectionists tend to go over their work time and time
again and make tweaks to it each time in the name of perfection. It is always likely that a perfectionist will
have many unfinished tasks because they are not satisfied with the quality of
the work they have done.
2. The Superhero Imposter
The superhero imposter is never too busy to take on more
work. They are an overachiever and it is a way for them to prove that they are
not a fraud. As a superhero imposter, you will work much longer hours than your
colleagues. When you do finally go home, you will probably take some work with
It is rare for a superhero to take a day off because this
has no meaning to them. They have trouble focusing on one thing at a time and
become a jack of all trades. A superhero is a juggler that always has a lot of
balls in the air.
3. The Natural Genius Imposter
This is a person that will be very good at one thing and
distinctly average at everything else. They will be well-known for their
specific talent and people will usually give them problems to solve in this
area. But others will never learn anything from a natural genius imposter. This
is because they have great difficulty explaining how they arrived at a
These people usually struggle with learning new things and
often believe that they are a failure because of this. If their knowledge of
the one subject was ever to let them down then this would be very difficult for
the natural genius to handle.
4. The Soloist Imposter
Someone that is a soloist imposter likes to work alone as
much as possible. This is because they are terrified that someone else will find
out that they are a fraud. A soloist can often be anti-social but not always.
But they are always protective of their big imposter secret.
5. The Expert Imposter
The expert imposter is very interesting. To the rest of the
world, it is obvious that the person has a lot of knowledge, but to the expert
they feel like they do not have enough knowledge. When they are given a task to
complete, it is likely that they will insist on performing research even though
they already have all of the answers.
3 Proven Ways to Overcome Imposter Syndrome
Once you have confirmed that you are experiencing imposter
syndrome you will need to take steps to overcome it. Not dealing with imposter
syndrome can result in disaster. It is very important that you use techniques
that have been proven to work when you want to overcome imposter syndrome.
1. Neutralize Negative Thoughts
You need to understand that imposter syndrome is all in your
head. The thoughts and feelings that you are experiencing about being an
imposter are not based in fact. In reality you are not a fraud or an imposter,
its just that your thoughts are telling you that you are.
Everything begins with thoughts. You are not going to
experience bad feelings without a thought starting this off. We are what we
think, and if you do not control the negative thoughts in your mind then you
are not going to overcome imposter syndrome.
When you experience a negative thought that tells you that
you are an imposter, you need to neutralize this. The best way to do this is to
think a positive thought immediately afterwards. You need to act quickly here
and not let any of the negative thoughts fester in your mind. They can soon
turn into limiting beliefs if you don’t take action.
If you experience a thought that is telling you that you are
an imposter because you are having difficulty completing a task for example,
you can neutralize this by thinking “I will complete this task because I can do
anything” or something similar to this.
It is going to take time and practice to get this right.
After a while, you will find that you automatically neutralize negative
thoughts with positive ones. The act of neutralizing a negative thought takes
away its power so you need to persevere with this.
2. Celebrate Your Accomplishments
People that experience imposter syndrome are often quick to
downplay their achievements. They believe that anyone else could have done the
things that they accomplished. This is not true of course, so you need to prove
to your subconscious mind that your accomplishments mean something.
While we never think that dwelling in the past is a good
idea, it can help to dig in to your past to create a list of the things that
you have achieved in your lifetime. Don’t even think about saying that you have
never achieved anything. You certainly have and you need to dig deep to find
Recalling your current and recent achievements will be a lot
easier and it is something that we recommend you do. As you recall each one,
celebrate this in your mind. When you consistently celebrate your
accomplishments, you will prove to your subconscious that you are worthy and
this will negate the power of imposter syndrome.
3. Assess Your Abilities
Another effective way to overcome imposter syndrome is to
make an assessment of your abilities. This is also a way to inform your subconscious
mind that you are not an imposter and that you deserve to be where you are.
You need to be honest with yourself here. Grab a pen and
paper and take the time out to think about your different abilities. We would
always recommend that you write these down as there is power to be derived from
this. Read your abilities list to yourself over and over to convince your
subconscious that you are not a fraud.