• Staff Writer

Dealing With Imposter Syndrome


You’ve probably heard of imposter syndrome and have likely experienced its symptoms, as 70% of adults have at some point. Although it is not a medical or psychological diagnosis, it is linked to mental illnesses like anxiety and depression.

Imposter syndrome is not exclusive to a certain gender, race, or class. It can affect anyone in any situation, from professional to personal. Although it is not linked to a person’s actual abilities or successes, it can lead to a lack of motivation, low self-esteem, and burnout as one internalizes their fear.


What Is Imposter Syndrome?


Imposter syndrome describes anyone who has continuing self-doubt or fear of being exposed as a fraud regardless of their success. Their competence and performance can be high-achieving, but rather than responding to facts or accuracy, they contribute any success they experience to things like luck or help from external sources. If they fail or struggle, they see it as a shortcoming and internalize more than positive experiences.

Rather than viewing themselves as able or qualified, someone dealing with imposter syndrome doesn’t understand how they’ve made it to where they are. They cannot understand their growth and abilities concerning themselves.

Many people who show signs of imposter syndrome tend to be perfectionists. They expect only the best out of themselves, so even if they succeed more than they fail, even a tiny setback will lead to self-doubt. Those who are highly successful and considered experts in their field feel the need to continually strive for more. They will fear applying for a position they are not qualified for and hesitate to speak up. The fear of looking stupid is a significant aspect of imposter syndrome.

Strangely, even those with natural intelligence struggle with imposter syndrome. Someone who has never had to work hard to succeed then has to put more effort in may develop imposter syndrome as a result. Because things have changed for them and something isn’t as easy as it once was, their mind convinces them they are a fraud. Those who continue to push themselves and don’t take breaks or relax often have imposter syndrome. They feel the need to continue working or attempting their next goal to prove they are not an imposter.

What Imposter Syndrome Does


Although imposter syndrome is often discussed within education or the workplace, it is also relevant in social settings. Some people experiencing imposter syndrome may show off their earnings, dress up, or portray a version of themselves to the outside world to appear perfect. Even with a good amount of support and encouragement from others, imposter syndrome does not waiver as it is an internal struggle linked to one’s mind and way of thinking. This is why it can be so prevalent, even in those who are popular, successful, or famous. In a way, imposter syndrome pushes people to pursue more accomplishments even though they don’t accept that their achievements are linked to their hard work. This results in increased stress, burnout, and dissatisfaction. When you work hard and succeed but don’t acknowledge your impact on that outcome, it lowers self-esteem. This impact of imposter syndrome can cause someone to hold back from asking for a raise or promotion at work, even if they are deserving of it. Their standards for themselves are higher than others’ expectations would ever be. Imposter syndrome has also been prevalent in parenting. Parents with wonderful intentions may feel unprepared to take on the responsibility. Rather than seeing their child’s progress or happiness as a result of their good parenting, they may shut down or fear making choices because of the impact on their child’s future. Finally, imposter syndrome is increasingly common in romantic relationships. Someone who doesn’t feel loveable or worth someone’s time or effort may sabotage their relationship. Before their partner can end things or see that they are a fraud or unworthy, they will end things before the other person can. This behavior leads to a lack of interpersonal relationships and confidence, which can cause anxiety or depression after an extended time.


Treating Imposter Syndrome


Treating imposter syndrome is not just about arguing these negative thoughts but acknowledging them. It is important to validate those emotions and address the cause. Someone experiencing imposter syndrome may not fully know why they sabotage relationships or can’t take a break at work. Seeking help from a professional teaches people to think critically about their thoughts and behaviors.

Once someone can identify how they think of themselves, they can begin to analyze that. Are those thoughts beneficial? Are they offering positivity and growth or holding you back? Reframing the thoughts and feelings that coincide with imposter syndrome can help someone interpret their success as a personal achievement, not a result of luck. They can begin to accept criticism and even appreciate it rather than linking it to failure or a sense of lacking.


Overcoming imposter syndrome is about accepting your abilities and acknowledging your success as your own. Imposter syndrome can paralyze people into believing the worst of themselves and prevent them from finding confidence. Although this is not a diagnosis, it can benefit from professional intervention. As imposter syndrome is linked to anxiety and depression, one can lead to the other, causing more struggles, hesitancies, and fear. Not believing you deserve your place in your career, school, or personal relationships prevents you from seeing your self-worth and striving for more for yourself rather than convincing others you aren’t a fraud. Treatment for imposter syndrome is about reevaluating your thoughts to coincide with the facts. Here at California Care Detox & Treatment, we recognize how common imposter syndrome is for those struggling with mental illness and addiction. Incorporating treatment for these thoughts into our individualized therapies allows us to help you help yourself. Call us at (949) 281-0632 to start building your confidence.

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