What is Imposter Syndrome(IS) or Imposter phenomenon?

Imposter Syndrome

There are several ups and downs in our lives that might make us question our capabilities, qualities, strengths, and weaknesses, whether in the matter of academics, careers, or anything important in our lives, but when you have a constant feeling of self-doubt or guilt about your achievements or personality, you might be suffering from the imposter syndrome. 

Imposter syndrome is a commonly occurring phenomenon in people. It usually affects people who are high achievers. Imposter syndrome is not a mental disorder, but rather a psychological phenomenon. Commonly, approximately 25–30 percent of people who are excellent in their field may suffer from Imposter syndrome, with 70% of individuals experiencing it once in a lifetime.

What are the signs of Imposter syndrome?

These are the symptoms of imposter syndrome (IS), or the imposter phenomenon. 

Feeling like a fraud!

Imposter syndrome can make you feel like a fraud! It can give you the impression that you are unworthy and make you question your ability to accept it as a good luck charm. It can make you feel as if you are lying, cheating and deceiving everyone by hiding your true self.


People with imposter syndrome are likely to show a lack of self-esteem and have very low self-esteem. Self-esteem is significant in shaping our emotions and boosting our confidence in ourselves.


People with Imposter syndrome tend to overwork to achieve and excel in a task

Neglecting achievements 

They rush to finish their task and never recognise their success, as well as leaving things unfinished sometimes. It can make you feel worthless, that you do not have talents or skills. People with imposter syndrome can only focus on their flaws to achieve perfectionism

Fear of failure

 People avoid challenges due to the fear of failing the task miserably. Never acknowledge praise. They never believe in the praise given to them by others and just assume it is fake.

Is there any cause behind imposter syndrome?

Why does it happen? Imposter syndrome can be caused by several factors, such as feelings of anxiety and anticipation before an exam, landing your dream job during an important interview, or a big career or relationship step.

The human brain tends to focus on bad things rather than good ones because we see them as threats and dangers to us. Imposter syndrome usually starts in the mid-to-late teens and is common in young adults. 

There is research that says Imposter syndrome may be caused by internal factors, such as our mind and personality being preoccupied with anxiousness and negative thoughts.

  • The fear of failure and subsequent challenges of not being enough can cause us to judge ourselves.
  • It is usually associated with anxiety, depression, or any other mental health condition whose symptoms can include low mood, feelings of sadness, hopelessness, doubt or being pessimistic.

Personality traits

Our personality is like the content of our bodily vessels; without it, we are just empty beings. Personality shapes our minds and behavior. People who have the tendency to be low on self-esteem or who are driven by a strong sense of achievement are highly likely to experience impermanence syndrome. 

Family and environment

Our environment is very important in our lifetimes. The surrounding environment helps a child feel safe and nurtured in the presence of their family and loved ones. However, stress caused due to family issues such as a dysfunctional family, or being neglected by parents can be the possible sternal factor for Imposter syndrome in a child.

Challenges of Imposter Syndrome 

  • Having imposter syndrome can affect our lives. Individuals with imposter syndrome also tend to doubt their abilities and tend to mix their emotions and affects.
  • More syndromes can disrupt personal and professional areas of lives. I can affect academic performance, career path, and even human relations due to the prevalence of low self-esteem. People might come off as needy.

This stress makes them overcompensate in their work, leading to lower productivity and decreased performance. 

How to Cope with the Imposter Syndrome?

Praise yourself

 As you read already, in imposter syndrome, one feels like a fraud. One way of coping with it is to recognise your achievements. 

Congratulate yourself over an achievement for your task, praise yourself for it and think about your insights and contributions to the work

 Feelings and fact

 It is just a feeling that you are a fraud and worthless. You always overthink it and try to focus on facts surrounding your life rather than your feelings to better understand what is under your control and what is not.

Do not compare

Do not compare your success to those of others. Everyone has unique talents and abilities that make them different. Remember, people with imposter syndrome tend to be high achievers, so a plus point is that you don’t measure any less than the others. 

Seek help from professionals

 If things don’t work and you think it’s affecting your mental health, then it is always better to consult a therapist, as people have a better sense of judgment and acceptance when others observe their behavior. A feeling of self-doubt may be overpowering, but don’t let it take a toll on you in any way.

The final take away from Imposter syndrome

Imposter syndrome is a term used to define a psychological occurrence when a person feels that they don’t deserve the success they have. It is not a mental condition or disorder and is not recognised by the DSM-V, but psychologists say that this feeling could govern anxiety or depression. A fact is that imposter syndrome is more common than infamous people who are high achievers in their lives. Some famous personalities who have confessed to having these feelings of self-doubt are Albert Einstein, actress Penelope Cruz, former First Lady Michelle Obama, and many more. 

So it is completely normal to feel this way, not every condition or an unknown feeling is a flaw!

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