Imposter Syndrome: Why You Are Self-Sabotaging (and How to Stop!)

There comes a time in nearly everyone’s life when they are struck by a sudden fear that they are a fraud. No matter how much evidence you have for your skills, success, and potential, there is a niggling little worm in the brain that whispers “You’re a fake! You’re a loser! This is never going to work!”

In fact, the more successful one becomes, the more likely they are to suffer from these kinds of anxieties and insecurities. It’s called Imposter Syndrome.

Who Gets Imposter Syndrome?

Everyone is vulnerable to Imposter Syndrome, but some groups of people more so than others.

  • Entrepreneurs who see a sudden surge of success are more likely to be hit buy fear and insecurity than those who have had to build their business up slowly over time.
  • Creatives are more susceptible than those in traditional occupations because there is so much social pressure to have a “real job.”
  • Women and minorities are more likely to doubt their worth than others.

If you fall into more than one of these categories, you might be at higher risk than others.

10 Signs You Suffer From Imposter Syndrome

  1. You don’t think you’re anything special.
  2. You think others can easily achieve the things you have.
  3. You feel generic and replaceable, a placeholder in your field.
  4. You give other people credit for your success, thinking “I couldn’t have done it with out so and so’s help.”
  5. You feel uncomfortable when others praise your skills and achievements.
  6. You believe your connections are more valuable than your actual skills.
  7. You believe people who praise you are just trying to be kind, or you mistrust praise as flattery with an ulterior motive.
  8. You attribute past successes to luck or being in the right place at the right time.
  9. You believe you haven’t worked hard enough to deserve the success you have had.
  10. You are afraid that other people will realize you aren’t as great as they thought, that you have somehow tricked them into believing you are better at your job than you really are.

2 Symptoms of Imposter Syndrome That Are Hurting You

If you frequently find the above thoughts passing through your brain, you might be suffering from Imposter Syndrome. Unfortunately, the damage of Imposter Syndrome is deeper than just self-consciousness. Your fear of being a fraud can actually drive self-sabotaging behaviours.

Overworking Yourself

Some people, when struggling with feelings of inadequacy and a fear of being discovered as a fake, believe they must work harder than anyone else in order to make up for their perceived deficiencies. These people show up early, stay late, take on extra projects, and work themselves to the bone. Then, after they do all that extra work, they try to minimize their efforts as if anyone else would do the same thing!

Procrastinating

On the flip side, the belief that you must be perfect in order to be worthy can result in a paralyzing fear of starting anything. People suffering from Imposter Syndrome will often make excuses for why they can’t take the next steps they need to make in their business or creative projects, because they are convinced that failure is not an option. Failure will expose them as the frauds they are!

Cure Yourself of Imposter Syndrome

Negative thoughts have power over us when they are allowed to fester and squirm around our brains unchecked. The longer they exist without being challenged the more real they become to us.

If you believe you are suffering from Imposter Syndrome there are some simple steps you can follow to shine a light on that wormy dark place in your brain.

The Emotional Rx

  • Acknowledge the negative beliefs to yourself, and identify them as toxic thoughts.

The Social Rx

  • Talk to someone close to you about them: your partner, close friends, family members, and colleagues. Share your experiences, and listen to theirs. You may find comfort in knowing that others have the same thoughts and fears.

The Mental Rx

  • If these beliefs are out of control and are taking over your life, seek the help of a mental health professional. In fact, seeing a counsellor regularly can be a great tool for setting and achieving your goals, even when you aren’t suffering from negative thoughts.

The Physical Rx

  • Learn a new skill, completely outside the sphere of your usual work. Allow yourself to be an amateur. Allow yourself to fail and to learn. Get comfortable with not being perfect. Then see if you can apply this newfound freedom to your professional life as well!

Conclusion

As more and more people are working from home, pursuing creative work, and starting their own businesses, it is important for us to talk about the very real threat that Imposter Syndrome has on us and our livelihoods. Fortunately there are many resources out there to help you if you are struggling with negative beliefs about yourself.

Discussion

Have you ever suffered from Imposter Syndrome? How did you handle it? Do you have any advice for others in your field? Please share in the comments!

4 thoughts on “Imposter Syndrome: Why You Are Self-Sabotaging (and How to Stop!)

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this. I believe many people suffer from the imposter syndrome because of the way we teach our children. They always ‘have to’ do this and that and they rarely get accepted for their talents if these talents don’t help them to get high grades. For me it helped to realise that my teachers were not always right. My family was not always right and I can make my own truth. As soon as you value your talents, you’ll meet people who will too. Good luck!

    1. Yes, it’s especially hard to pursue a career or passion that is outside the social norms. It’s hard not to be plagued with thoughts of “Can I really do this? What makes me think I’m so special?” But we can do it, and we don’t have to apologize for it, either.

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