Do You Feel Like a Fraud? Recognizing the Signs of Impostor Syndrome

Do you find yourself constantly doubting your abilities? Dismissing your successes as luck or good timing? If you're secretly scared of being "found out" as a phony, you might be experiencing Impostor Syndrome. It's more common than you think, and it can hold you back in countless ways. Let's dive into the signs and symptoms so you can start to challenge those negative thoughts.

Signs and Symptoms of Impostor Syndrome

Impostor Syndrome can show up in your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours:

Cognitive Symptoms

  • "I'm just faking it": A pervasive belief that you're not as competent as others perceive you to be.
  • The Luck Factor: Attributing accomplishments to external factors like luck, help from others, or being in the right place at the right time.
  • Fear of Failure: Intense anxiety about making mistakes or not living up to expectations.
  • Discounting Success: Downplaying your achievements and struggling to internalize positive feedback.

Emotional Symptoms

  • Anxiety and worry: A constant sense of unease related to your work or abilities.
  • Feeling like a Fraud: Deep-seated shame or a sense of not deserving your success.
  • Low Mood: Feeling disappointed, frustrated, or generally down on yourself.
  • Exhaustion: Drained from the constant effort to maintain an image of competence.

Behavioural Symptoms

  • Perfectionism: Setting impossibly high standards and relentlessly criticizing yourself.
  • Overworking: Compensating for perceived inadequacies by pushing yourself excessively.
  • Procrastination: Putting off tasks out of fear of not doing them "perfectly".
  • Holding Back: Avoiding challenges, promotions, or opportunities due to self-doubt.

Important to Remember:

  • It's a spectrum: The intensity and combination of these symptoms can vary greatly from person to person.
  • Not a diagnosis: Impostor Syndrome isn't a formal mental health disorder, but a pattern of thoughts and feelings.
  • Seek help if it's severe: If Impostor Syndrome is impacting your mental wellbeing or significantly holding you back, talking to a therapist can be incredibly helpful.

The Path to Breaking Free

Recognising the signs of Impostor Syndrome is the first step towards challenging those self-limiting beliefs. In other posts I will discuss strategies to overcome Impostor Syndrome and start embracing your true capabilities.

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