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10 Signs You Have Impostor Syndrome & How To Break Free

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One of the greatest things in life is setting goals and achieving them.

I mean, I feel so fulfilled when I tick off a goal from my list.

But do you know that sometimes, despite our hard work and accomplishments, we can’t help but feel like we don’t deserve our success?

This feeling is known as impostor syndrome.

Impostor syndrome is a psychological pattern where individuals doubt their skills, talents, or achievements even though there is evidence to prove otherwise.

In other words, it’s the feeling of being a fraud despite having achieved success and recognition.

It’s like having a constant companion who whispers doubts in your ear, questioning your abilities and making you second-guess yourself.

Most people experience impostor syndrome at some point in their lives, especially when they are faced with new challenges or responsibilities.

It can manifest itself in various ways, and the signs may be subtle or obvious.

10 Signs You Have Impostor Syndrome

1. You Are Always Chasing Perfection

Signs You Have Impostor Syndrome

I’m not a fan of shabby work.

I believe in excellence; I believe in putting your best into whatever you do.

However, achieving excellence is not the same thing as chasing perfection.

If you struggle with impostor syndrome, you’ll realize that you relentlessly chase perfection in everything you do.

This isn’t about striving for excellence; it’s about setting the bar impossibly high.

You’re not just trying to do well; you’re aiming for flawless!

Flawless, darling.

You might spend extra hours on a task, double-checking or tweaking the smallest details.

It’s not just about doing a good job; it’s about achieving a level of perfection that, in reality, might not even be necessary or realistic.

Now, here’s where impostor’s syndrome is a b*tch.

Even when you achieve something awesome, for example, nailing a presentation, writing a successful blog post, or getting positive feedback, you’re not able to fully embrace and celebrate these successes.

There’s a voice in your head undermining these achievements, insisting they’re not good enough.

This mindset can lead to burnout, as you’re constantly pushing yourself for perfection can lead to exhaustion.

It can also lead to missed opportunities because being overly critical of your work might stop you from sharing your ideas or talents with the world.

And, of course, self-doubt because despite evidence of your skills and accomplishments, you continually doubt your abilities and worth.

In your struggle with this syndrome, understand that perfection is an illusion.

In fact, in most cases, “good enough” is truly enough, and what you perceive as imperfections are often unnoticed by others.

This relentless pursuit of perfection is usually a shield against criticism or failure, a way to protect yourself from the fear of being ‘exposed’ as an impostor.


2. You Attribute Your Success to Luck or External Factors

Signs You Have Impostor Syndrome

No one likes a pompous, boastful person who can’t stop talking about their achievements.

But there’s a difference between being humble and giving credit where credit is due.

If you have impostor syndrome, you might find yourself downplaying your accomplishments or attributing them to luck or external factors rather than acknowledging your hard work and talent.

You believe that anyone could have done what you did, and it was just a matter of luck or being in the right place at the right time.

This is damaging because it undermines your efforts and diminishes your worth.

It also prevents you from truly owning your successes and taking pride in them, which can ruin your confidence and self-esteem.


3. You Believe That You Are Not Good Enough

No one is saying that you should walk around like you are the greatest thing since sliced bread.

But constantly feeling like you’re not good enough, even though others see your value and potential, is a sign of impostor syndrome.

You might feel like you’re not qualified for your job despite having the necessary skills and experience.

You might think that everyone else is smarter, more talented, and better than you.

This negative self-perception can hold you back from taking on new challenges or opportunities because you don’t believe in yourself.


4. You Dismiss Positive Feedback

Signs You Have Impostor Syndrome

“Great job!”

“Wow, that was amazing!”

These are some of the phrases that make people with impostor syndrome cringe.

Not because they don’t appreciate the compliments but because their inner critic tells them that these praises aren’t genuine.

You might believe that the person is just being nice or polite, and deep down, you know that your work wasn’t as good as everyone says it was.

This means you don’t fully believe in yourself or your abilities, even when others do.


5. You Fear Failure and Criticism

No one enjoys failure or criticism, but if you have impostor syndrome, these things can feel like a threat to your identity.

You might fear failure because it validates that inner voice telling you that you’re not good enough, and everyone will see it.

Criticism, whether constructive or not, can feel personal and devastating because it confirms your fears of being exposed as a fraud.

This fear prevents you from taking risks or stepping out of your comfort zone because you don’t want to experience failure, which can limit your growth and potential.


6. You Are a Superhero in Disguise

Signs You Have Impostor Syndrome

Hard work is good.

Even my favorite book on the planet, the Bible, says, ”Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.”

If you have impostor syndrome, however, you will find yourself working extra hard just to make sure nobody discovers you’re “not that skilled”?

It’s like being a superhero, but the kind who’s always worried their cape isn’t quite superhero-y enough.

You may have the skills, experience, and accomplishments to prove your worth, but you constantly feel like it’s not enough.

You’re always trying to be better, achieve more, and do more just to make sure nobody doubts your abilities.


7. You Are The Expert That Never Feels Expert Enough

No matter how much you know, you feel like you don’t know enough.

In fact, you could be the go-to person in your field and still feel like there’s a giant “Learner” sticker stuck on your forehead.

This is because impostor syndrome convinces you that there’s always more to learn and what you know is insignificant.

You may downplay your knowledge or expertise and feel like a fraud if someone asks you a question you can’t answer.

But the truth is, no one knows everything, and constantly seeking more knowledge is admirable. However, it shouldn’t come from a place of insecurity or fear of being exposed as an impostor.


8. You’re Your Own Worst Critic

Signs You Have Impostor Syndrome

We all have that inner voice, the one that tells us we’re not good enough, smart enough, or worthy enough.

This critic is on steroids for someone battling with impostor’s syndrome.

It’s like having a bully inside your head who constantly highlights your flaws and shortcomings, making it difficult to feel good about yourself.

You might beat yourself up for the smallest mistakes or spend hours trying to make something perfect because you don’t want anyone to see those “imperfections.”

This constant self-criticism is exhausting and detrimental to your mental health.


9. Success? What Success?

You’ve achieved plenty, but instead of feeling proud, you’re scanning the horizon for the next challenge, barely acknowledging what you’ve accomplished.

This is because impostor syndrome leaves you feeling like a fraud despite your success.

So, you can’t savor your successes because you’re too busy looking for the next one.

You may even feel like you don’t deserve to celebrate or that your accomplishments aren’t significant enough.

That’s why you’re always on the move, trying to prove yourself and achieve more, but never taking the time to acknowledge what you’ve achieved.


10. You Always Compare Yourself To Others

We all fall into the trap of comparing ourselves to others, especially in this age of social media, where everybody seems to be living their best life.

If you have impostor syndrome, this comparison game is taken to a whole new level.

You might constantly compare yourself to others in your field and believe that they are more successful, smarter, and better than you.

This can lead to feelings of inadequacy, jealousy, and resentment, making it difficult for you to celebrate the success of others genuinely.


It’s so exhausting.


It’s Time To Break Free From Impostor Syndrome

Impostor syndrome can rear its ugly head in various ways, and it’s not something that you can just snap out of.

However, recognizing the signs is an important step towards overcoming it.

Understand that we all have our insecurities and fears, but they don’t define us or determine our worth.

You are more than capable and deserving of success, praise, and opportunities.

So embrace your imperfections, acknowledge your accomplishments, and know that you are enough just the way you are.

You don’t have to be perfect or the best at everything.

All you need to do is be yourself and trust in your abilities because no one else can do it like you.

You are not an impostor; you’re a unique individual with your own strengths and potential.

It’s time to let go of that impostor syndrome and step into your greatness.

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