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Imposter Syndrome

Imposter Syndrome: Meaning, Symptoms, and How to Overcome it

Description: It’s often normal to feel not good enough. But if you persistently feel this way, even amid numerous achievements, then you may have imposter syndrome. Want to find out more about imposter syndrome? Continue reading

If you asked any high-achieving person, they’d tell you that at some point, they have doubted themself. You name it, maybe before a game, before a fight, or before taking a shot! it is not uncommon for athletes and even regular people to feel such inadequacy. In fact, there is a name for it – imposter syndrome.

This piece discusses imposter syndrome, its symptoms, causes, and potential treatment. Keep reading to find out all you need to know!

imposter syndrome symptoms

What is Imposter Syndrome?

Imposter syndrome, also known as perceived fraudulence, is a mental state characterized by persistent feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt, regardless of your qualifications, work history, and achievements. Imposter syndrome causes persistent uncertainty about one’s competence or achievements and a fear of being discovered as a fraud, despite all evidence of their overall success.

Imposter syndrome is a diagnosable mental health issue. You could find yourself working harder and setting higher goals for yourself to combat these emotions. Over time, this pressure may have an adverse effect on both your work life and mental health. The effect may persist for long periods, even affecting people around you.

Imposter syndrome is often connected to elements of perfectionism, observed in persons with high intelligence and huge achievements. There are also other individual and social factors that can trigger this condition. However, imposter feeling is not a respecter of social standing, professional experience, individual skill, or level of competence as it can affect anyone.

imposter syndrome symptoms

Symptoms of Impostor Syndrome

While imposter syndrome symptoms can vary from person to person, there are some recurring warning signs you should look out for. These include:

  • Extreme lack of self-confidence
  • Emotional symptoms like feelings of inadequacy, constant fear, panic attack, etc.
  • Constant comparison to other people
  • Anxiety symptoms
  • Physical symptoms of job burnout like headaches, insomnia, etc.
  • Self-doubt
  • Physical exhaustion
  • Emotion symptoms
  • Lack of confidence in one’s judgment and abilities
  • Negative self-talk
  • Focusing on the past
  • Unreasonable fears about the future
causes of imposter syndrome

Causes of Imposter Syndrome

According to research, early family dynamics and gender norms were linked to imposter syndrome in the earliest studies. However, later studies have revealed that imposter syndrome affects individuals of all ages, genders, and socioeconomic backgrounds. The possible causes of imposter syndrome are:

  1. Family Upbringing

The development of impostor syndrome in children may be influenced by a parenting style that is overbearing or domineering. You may, for instance, be a product of a household that placed great significance on accomplishment. Or perhaps your parents alternated between being appreciative and condemning.

Imposter syndrome may be more common in individuals from households with a history of intense conflict and little support.

  • New Job or School Opportunities

Taking on a new job role can result in imposter syndrome. For instance, when you first start college, you could feel unworthy and inadequacy, which can affect your enthusiasm in such a position. The same feeling also happens when beginning a new position at work. Imposter syndrome is more prevalent when changing responsibilities and attempting new things. Feelings of inadequacy in new professions and situations can trigger the feeling of incompetence and pressure to strive and achieve.

  • Personality

The likelihood of developing impostor syndrome has also been associated with specific personality features. The following personality traits or qualities could be important:

  • Low self-efficacy: Self-efficacy is the degree to which you believe you can succeed in any particular circumstance.
  • Perfectionism: The imposter syndrome is significantly influenced by perfectionism. You may believe that there is an ideal “template” for conversations with no room for error or that you set high standards that may make it difficult for you to seek assistance from others and cause you to put off tasks.
  • Neuroticism: One of the “big five” personality traits is neuroticism, which has been associated with increased levels of anxiety, insecurity, tension, and guilt.
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4.     Social Anxiety

Social anxiety and imposter syndrome coexist. When in social or performance circumstances, a person with social anxiety disorders may feel out of place. For example, you might be conversing with someone when you worry that they will notice your social inadequacy. When they are in circumstances where they feel inadequate, people with imposter syndrome frequently suffer anxiety symptoms that they would not ordinarily have.

Types of Imposter Syndrome

Types of Impostor Syndrome

There are different types of imposter syndrome. They include:

1.     Soloist

The soloist personality often feels that they already know the details or information and will be reluctant to ask for help and assistance from others. They could think that asking for assistance is a sign of imposters or fraud and that doing so is a weakness. In the fitness setting, a gym patron may choose not to consult the on-site personal trainer despite having a question. A newly recruited personal trainer might not feel at ease asking experienced personal trainer questions since they believe they should know the answer.

2.     The Superhero

The superhero type is frequently linked to great achievers who believe they should put in more effort than anybody else. This is frequently motivated by the need to look strong or competent in front of others and the fear of failing if they do not push themselves very hard. This also applies to people who exercise with the belief that they must exert more effort than everyone else or they will look pitiful.

3.     The Natural Genius Type

The natural genius type will often anticipate that they should attain what they intended to accomplish the first time they try something. If they do not succeed the first time, they get frustrated. They may dread trying new things because they fear that they might not get it immediately. An example of this in the fitness setting would be a new gym member who thinks that every new exercise they try should be simple to complete. They might quickly lose patience if it doesn’t. They can refrain from trying new ones to avoid looking inexperienced or because the exercise is still difficult.

4.     The Perfectionist

People who fit this category hate making errors, feel guilty when they do and think they ought to be entirely right all the time. Because they worry that imperfections would be perceived poorly by others, they are also intensely focused on the defects and faults in their attempts rather than their triumphs. This could be a personal trainer customer in the fitness industry that becomes irritated or frustrated with himself when they don’t do an exercise properly. If their trainer commends them, they might reply with what wasn’t perfect about their performance or how they could improve for the next time.

5.     The Expert Type

The expert type frequently seeks out more information because they never think they have sufficient knowledge to succeed, even when they do. They can be hesitant to take on a job or activity if they are ignorant about a certain aspect or truth. This could apply to a fitness professional who continually feels like they don’t know enough to carry out their duties well.

Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

How to Overcome Impostor Syndrome

Imposter syndrome can limit one’s potential. However, there are eight recommended ways to get over Imposter Syndrome. These include:

1.     Acknowledge Your Feelings

Acknowledge your feeling and why you feel that way. Initially, keep a journal, write down your feelings of incompetence or self-doubt, and explain why you feel that way. The likelihood is that reading your thoughts aloud can help you recognize just how damaging they are and how to deal with them.

2.     Talk to Others

When you feel like you are a fraud or nothing, try to talk to people you trust or a mental health professional. They can help by talking and walking you through the process. They can also share ideas that can help or similar experience that they have had in the past. Allow the person you trust to help you through the process and show you how and why your fears are unjustifiable.

3.     Develop a Quick Response Plan

Try to challenge the self-defeating thoughts when they gain control by separating yourself from the voice’s emotional influence. Take greater risks to combat negative thoughts like “I don’t worth it.” This might appear contradictory at first, but you can convince your inner critic that you are capable of success by taking cautious risks.

4.     Understand Your Strengths and Weaknesses

Increase your self-confidence by becoming more cognizant of your advantages and disadvantages. You won’t need to waste as much time worrying that you’re unqualified for particular jobs, initiatives, or roles if you are better aware of your strengths and limitations. Create a network of confidantes and motivators to assist you in combating your critical inner voice and creating a work-life balance for yourself.

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5.     Overcome Perfectionism

Take regular breaks, practice relaxation techniques, and keep your eyes on your goals to overcome your perfectionist habit. Start by setting challenging, attainable, and realistic objectives for yourself. You shouldn’t berate yourself if you don’t achieve a certain objective. Making mistakes demonstrates your willingness to try new things and take calculated risks. Treat your errors as teaching opportunities that will improve your performance better than before.

6.     Own Your Successes

Make an effort to strengthen your internal locus of control. You can accept responsibility for your successes and failures if you think your actions, opinions, and decisions have impacted your life. Recognize that your expertise and talent had a part in achieving your goals or completing a significant endeavor. Don’t forget to savor and embrace your victories. Keep track of the compliments and accolades you receive. Following this will give you a confidence boost and lessen the impact of any self-criticism you may be harboring.

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The fact that you feel like an impostor shows that you have achieved some things in life that you attribute to fate. Rather than feeling like an imposter, try to transform that emotion into thankfulness. Consider your life’s successes and express gratitude for them. Don’t let your concern about being exposed keep you from exploring. Learn, be open, and let them see the real you by letting your guard down.


Impostor syndrome: Facing the fear of inadequacy and self-doubt

Impostor syndrome: Definition, symptoms, traits, and causes

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