Imposter Syndrome is something that affects many of us, from famous celebrities and those in high-powered jobs to parents and young adults. It can also influence our everyday relationships and how we interact with others.
This condition relates to the idea that you feel like a fraud – that you’re not actually successful, you’re inadequate, untalented, and you’re about to be found out.
Could you be suffering from this confidence-sapping, anxiety-generating mental affliction? If many of the following thoughts sound familiar to you, the answer is probably yes.
1. You don’t see your own strengths.
This is a classic symptom of Imposter Syndrome. Many who struggle with it can’t see their own strengths and abilities. Whether it’s regarding work, your relationship, or your role as a parent or carer, you can’t see how well you’re doing. Other people DO see it, however, and even mention how strong and talented you are, but you refuse to open your eyes to the truth.
2. You worry your luck is running out.
Part of Imposter Syndrome is feeling as though you’re a fraud. You believe you’re always on the verge of being ‘found out,’ or that your luck will suddenly run out and you’ll be left with nothing. You’re just waiting for the penny to drop all the time; ready for everyone to realize that you’re not the person they thought you were.
Your successes, if you can even see them that way, are all flukes. It can’t possibly be that you worked hard or performed well – it must be because you charmed your way to a positive outcome, or that a wild coincidence meant things worked out for you.
3. You feel like you’re working harder than everyone else.
You often feel as though it takes you so much more effort than anyone else to achieve the same results. This is very likely not the case, but you can’t help the thought from creeping into your mind.
You see others doing things and wonder why it’s so easy for them, even though others often have this view of you. You feel like you have to push yourself harder than others push themselves because you’re hiding this big secret of being totally incompetent and untalented.
4. You can’t accept compliments or praise.
You find it painful every time someone tries to praise you. This is generally in relation to work, but can span across all aspects of life. You may find it hard to see yourself as a good parent, or a good boss or colleague, so any time someone compliments you, you assume they’re lying.
5. You shrug off success.
You find it so hard to accept that you may have actually done something well that you refuse to acknowledge your successes. Rather, you palm them off and credit everyone else. Instead of standing in the limelight, you force other people into it and shuffle to the back of the crowd. You feel unworthy of success and praise, so would rather attribute it to anyone else.
6. You’re a workaholic.
You find yourself working constantly because you know your work will never be good enough. While others often stop working once a target is achieved, you push yourself to keep working and working. This doesn’t tend to lead to much, though, as the reward for all that effort often plateaus after a certain point.
Despite not gaining much more from working overtime, you can’t stop yourself from doing it. You’re likely aware of this trait, as many others will probably have pointed out your behavior. Despite that, you continue to push yourself constantly.
7. You’re a perfectionist.
If it’s not perfect, you’re not happy. Because you feel so inadequate already, you feel as though everything you do has to be absolutely perfect. You’re so worried about being insufficient in every aspect of your life that perfection seems like the only way to come across in a positive light. You hold yourself to ridiculously high standards that are wholly unreachable.
This links in with being a perfectionist, as you can’t even comprehend not being good at something. This feeling extends to much of your life, including work, friendships, relationships, and your social life. You’re terrified of not being able to do something and work yourself into a state of anxiety over the tiniest of things.
While others may look objectively at certain tasks and accept that they can’t be the best at everything, you force yourself to pursue excellence in all that you do, whatever the cost.
This is often part of a thought cycle that revolves around success – the better you get at things, the higher your standards have to be set, which means that you’re constantly having to work harder in order to reach your own, often unrealistic, expectations.
9. You’re not comfortable with confidence.
You can admire confidence in other people, but feel as though you’re not allowed to be confident. You assume that people will laugh at you or criticize you for having the audacity to be confident in yourself.
You imagine that people will see you displaying confidence and question why that is – are you covering something up, are you compensating for some great failure? You panic that your actions will come across negatively, for whatever reason, so shy away from confidence.
10. Comparison is ruining you.
This idea links into the fact that those suffering from Imposter Syndrome often feel like a fraud. You’re already so unsure of your own abilities, so the fact that you’re constantly comparing yourself to others really doesn’t help.
Any positive feelings you may have toward yourself are instantly stripped away the second you start to actually think about them! You endlessly compare yourself to your friends, siblings, partner, and colleagues. It’s exhausting and you know it’s unhealthy, but you can’t break the habit.
The more you get into this thought cycle, the worse it gets. You end up berating yourself for being so insecure and that just leads to even more comparisons to others who seem so carefree and unaffected by people’s opinions of them. This leads to the ultimate vicious cycle and keeps you trapped by your IS.
11. You only see the negatives.
You find it hard to acknowledge that there are any positives in what you do, mainly because you’re fear-driven rather than motivated by success. You can’t see how many good things are going on, or how well you’re doing, and instead see the negatives in everything.
Because you’re trapped in a cycle of feeling inadequate, you can’t see how anything you do could be seen as positive or worthy. The more you focus on these negatives, or create them, rather, the more they keep popping up. This only reinforces your belief that you’re a fraud and that you’re no good at anything.
12. You downplay your roles.
Whether it’s your role as a parent, colleague, or friend, you feel as though you’re doing an average job. You might have the top role within your company, but you’re quick to brush it off as something “anyone could do.”
You find it impossible to believe that you’re doing anything worthwhile or challenging, so dismiss your actions as everyday things. You could have launched the first rocket, but you’d automatically discount it as something a child could do.
13. You have irrational feelings and thoughts.
You find it hard to get perspective on certain issues, as you’re so ingrained in the way you think. Other people see your life from the outside and have totally different views to those you hold about it.
You may not see your job or hobbies or lifestyle as anything important or exciting, but these thoughts are irrational. Objectively, others will see your life as successful and full of interesting events and activities. The irrationality behind your feelings and thoughts often stems from feeling inadequate.
After reading these 13 points, do you think you might be suffering from Imposter Syndrome?
Lucy is a travel and wellness writer currently based in Gili Air, a tiny Indonesian island. After over a year of traveling, she’s settled in paradise and spends her days wandering around barefoot, practicing yoga and exploring new ways to work on her wellbeing.