Ever feel like a fraud? You’re not alone.

This term of ‘imposter syndrome’ was developed in 1978 — and is used to describe someone who feels that they are not capable, or intelligent, or creative, despite evidence to the contrary. 40 years after its discovery, it’s still just as relevant and prevalent! Feeling this way is not uncommon. Roughly 70% of the population has felt like this. It shows up in kids, students, employees, executives, and even public figures. For most, these feelings flit by, but for others, these thoughts weigh them down and can be debilitating.

Signs of Imposter Syndrome:

There are many reasons someone could experience imposter syndrome, and there is no ‘one clear cause’. While it is not an official diagnosis, it is a very real and intellectual form of self-doubt. Someone can be living with imposter syndrome and not even realize it.

Here are some behaviours that people with imposter syndrome exhibit:

1: They think they are frauds.

They convince themselves that they are ‘tricking people’, and the more success they have, the more they worry that their charade will fall apart. Whether they are celebrities, scientists, or any other profession — they convince themselves they are not as good as other people.

2: They self-sabotage.

They are afraid of failure and terrified of success. They want to prove themselves but feel they don’t deserve too much achievement. Often, they’ll sabotage their chances because they doubt themselves. Also, if they turn down an opportunity, they don’t have the chance to fail or succeed. Win-win… or is it?

3: They think people are overestimating them.

It doesn’t matter how many promotions or accolades they receive, they’ll always assume people are thinking too much of them. They tend to think thoughts like “My boss has no idea I just lucked out on that” or “They have no clue that I’m way underqualified”.

4: They work too hard.

People with imposter syndrome work constantly to prove themselves. They have very high standards for themselves and are always striving to achieve those standards. However, they often fall short of their own standards and continue to view themselves as incompetent people.

5: They can’t celebrate success.

Most people feel happy and good about themselves when they achieve something. People with imposter syndrome only feel worried. Whenever they accomplish something, their fear of being ‘found out’ increases. They aren’t able to internalize their success, instead, they fear they won’t be able to repeat the results and attribute the fortuitous outcome to luck.

Here are some additional signs you might be experiencing imposter syndrome:

  • You have difficulty accepting compliments and praise.
  • You need to be the best.
  • People describe you as a perfectionist.
  • Your focus tends to lie with the things you haven’t gotten done.
  • You think you’re not enough.

Does this sound like you? Well, there is good news. Even though it’s not exactly clear what causes imposter syndrome, there are some things you can do to abate it! Because — despite what you may believe — you DESERVE to be free of these crushing thoughts.

Ways to overcome Imposter Syndrome:

Acknowledge it.

It might be difficult to admit, but recognize that these thoughts are unfounded. Make a mental note, or write down your thoughts, when feelings of fraud pop up. After you write down your false negative feeling, write down the truth. Maybe you write “I don’t deserve this award.” After that write “Truth: I worked hard for this award.” It’s OK to be humble, but it’s not OK to experience paralyzing fear over your worth and abilities.

Get OK with imperfection.

NOBODY IS PERFECT. You’ve probably heard that a million times, and you probably think that you should be the exception. Wrong. Perfectionism and imposter syndrome go hand in hand. Cut yourself some slack! So start something, and ask for help if you need it. Or finish a project before its ‘Perfect’. If you wait for things to be perfect, they might never get done.

Remember that you aren’t alone.

Lots of people feel inadequate. So find someone you can talk to, a mentor, a friend, a therapist. You don’t need to walk this road alone — even though you probably think you do. There are so many people out there, with this same struggle, so find some sympathy — but most importantly, find encouragement.

It’ll take time, effort, and significant mental reprogramming, but you can overcome imposter syndrome. You can get over your doubt and learn to celebrate your accomplishments! So don’t doubt that you can get to a place where you are liberated and free from feelings of anxiety or ‘being found out’.

You are where you are because you deserve to be there.


Feel Like A Fraud? Here’s How To Overcome Impostor Syndrome

7 Reasons People With Impostor Syndrome Struggle to Succeed

12 Signs You Might Be Suffering From Imposter Syndrome — Fellow Perfectionists, I’m Looking At You

Study: Impostor syndrome causes mental distress in minority students

What causes the Imposter Syndrome?