Imposter Syndrome

Have you ever felt a feeling of not belonging, even when you earned that spot at your school or worked your way up in your career? This might be imposter syndrome. Impostor syndrome refers to the phenomenon when an individual internalizes their accomplishments, due to fear of being exposed as a “fraud.”

Those with imposter syndrome are psychologically uncomfortable with acknowledging their role in their own success, but their negative thoughts (often referred to as “cognitive distortions”) are based on anxiety, rather than objective facts. Although it was initially believed that imposter syndrome predominantly affected women, subsequent gender-related data on the subject has revealed this isn’t the case — many people of all backgrounds and identities can sometimes feel out-of-place amongst their achievements.

An adult with short brown hair and light skin, wearing a grey cardigan looking off to the side

Prevalence of imposter syndrome

While feelings of unworthiness can happen to anyone, anywhere, impostor syndrome is especially prevalent in the workplace. People feel like they’ll soon get in trouble for being in a role that they rightfully earned through a rigorous interview or competitive application process. They might even think, “I don’t deserve this good fortune! My boss must have made a mistake, hiring me.”

Imposter syndrome isn’t limited to professional life, though. It can impact personal life in hard-hitting ways. This includes feeling inadequate in a relationship or as a partner, which could become a prolonged conflict in the relationship. It might also look like the incapacity to accept personal praise or going overboard on challenging, often ambitious, goals.

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Symptoms of impostor syndrome

Symptoms of impostor syndrome can look different for different people, though there are some consistent and tell-tale red flags. Symptoms might include:

In professional settings, typical examples include:

How to overcome imposter syndrome

Here are some small steps you can take to identify and overcome your unique imposter syndrome patterns:

Many therapists specialize in working with individuals who suffer from the impacts of imposter syndrome. A therapist can help you better understand your imposter syndrome-tendencies. Together, you’ll come up with ways to inhibit these tendencies so that you feel confident, empowered, and in-control of your emotions when it comes to acknowledging all of your accomplishments. Finding the right therapist begins with checking out multiple therapist profiles, which is easy to do on Zencare. Zencare includes personalized introductory videos for each therapist so you can get a feel of their approach and style. Once you find a therapist that matches your needs, schedule a consultation call with them through their Zencare profile — then you’re at the starting line for conquering your imposter syndrome!