A woman with Imposter Syndrome feels like a fraud
Published On: November 28, 2018|Categories: Clinician’s Corner|

Do you struggle with thinking like everyone around you has it figured out and you’re making it up as you go along? Do you feel that everyone else knows what they’re doing and you’re just an actor? If you struggle with feeling competent or confident, you may be experiencing imposter syndrome. 

While not a clinical diagnosis, imposter syndrome is a pattern that can be changed. In this article, we’ll answer what imposter syndrome is, what causes imposter syndrome, what symptoms you can spot and how to overcome imposter syndrome.

What is imposter syndrome?

Imposter syndrome is a pattern of thinking that focuses on feeling inadequate. Someone who feels that everyone else is competent in their career, relationships and daily life but struggles to feel the same about him or herself is someone who is faced with imposter syndrome.

Imposter syndrome is when someone feels like a fraud. You may feel that you are unable to complete tasks at work, that your significant other is a much better person than you and will soon figure it out or that you’re ill-equipped to be a parent. Regardless of your personal struggle, these thoughts are often grounded in unreality and can lead to poor self-esteem and dysfunction in your daily life.

What causes imposter syndrome?

Imposter syndrome stems from insecurities and anxious or avoidant attachment styles. Different personalities and life experiences could also lend themselves to feeling insecure. While your environment could play a role in the way you perceive yourself in comparison to those around you, imposter syndrome is typically caused by deeper emotional roots.


Everyone has insecurities and each person will differ in the way he or she manages the distress those insecurities cause. Many individuals develop coping skills to handle the negative emotions that come with feeling ashamed or embarrassed or may work to address specific insecurities. Others may pathologize these insecurities. 

If you struggle with imposter syndrome, it’s likely that your insecurities are more in control of you than you are of them. It’s likely that you feel like a fraud when it comes to the thing you are most uncertain of about yourself. This lack of confidence contributes to feeling unworthy and incapable.

Attachment styles

Attachment refers to the type of behavior a person develops in response to the type of care that was given to the youth. When a child’s physical and emotional needs are not met, the psychological response in each person differs, and this sometimes results in insecure attachment styles, like anxious or avoidant attachment.

Someone with poor attachment in childhood may manifest this later on in life, and struggle to create relationships with friends, romantic partners and coworkers. Needing constant affirmation or withdrawing from others emotionally are manifestations of insecure attachment that could contribute to imposter syndrome. 

What are the symptoms of imposter syndrome?

If you’re unsure whether you are facing imposter syndrome or something else, check out this list of imposter syndrome symptoms.

  • Inability to objectively assess your accomplishments, talents and positive qualities
  • Fostering a distorted perception of how others perceive you
  • Needing constant affirmation to feel good about yourself
  • Changing yourself to please others
  • Having strong emotional reactions to negative feedback
  • Explaining your successes as coincidence or attributing them to someone else
  • Experiencing anxiety about performance-related tasks
  • Feeling insecure in relationships
  • Having extremely high or unreachable standards for yourself
  • Comparing yourself to others
  • Being an overachiever

If you feel like a fraud and often feel scared that others will figure out you aren’t as adequate as you seem, you’re likely struggling with imposter syndrome. It’s time to start addressing low self-esteem.

How to overcome imposter syndrome

Overcoming imposter syndrome is something that takes time and effort, but remaining in this distorted thinking pattern could be detrimental to your career, your relationships and your mental health. Here’s how to deal with imposter syndrome.

  1. Talk with an objective outsider

Understanding yourself from an objective lens can be extremely healing, especially for someone who tends to focus on the negative. While you might feel like your accomplishments are minimal, a therapist or counselor can illuminate the good qualities you have and the feats you’ve achieved.

2. Focus on a healthy self-perception

It’s OK to admit our faults, but they shouldn’t define our self-perception. Healthy self-awareness includes knowing both your weaknesses and your strengths and weighing them in a healthy balance. Don’t diminish your successes or blow your failures out of proportion.

3. Counteract perfectionist tendencies

Perfectionist personalities are prone to imposter syndrome and continuing perfectionist behaviors will only make the feelings of incompetence worse. Set reasonable expectations and goals for yourself and react to your actions in a compassionate manner. Here’s a trick: think of how you would react if your friend did the same thing.

4. Delete social media

Social media is the number one platform for comparing yourself to others, and if you’re struggling with imposter syndrome it’s clearly an unhealthy habit in your life. While some individuals are able to moderate themselves online, your best bet is to get rid of it entirely so the temptation isn’t there.

5. Make an appointment with The Light Program

If you’re struggling to feel like you’re enough, reach out to the Light Program. Our counselors can help you address the root of your insecurity and find healing practices to have a healthy self-perception. Call today to schedule an appointment and find the confidence that will change your life.

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