Top 6 signs you suffer from imposter syndrome

Imposter syndrome & self-confidence go hand-in-hand 

One is the chronic negative belief that you’re never enough, while the other is the steadfast belief that you’re capable even when challenged.

These two beliefs exist on opposite ends of a spectrum. 

This means that if you suffer with imposter syndrome there’s a pretty big chance that you also have low self-confidence (and, as a result, often feel anxiety, worry & self-doubt). 

This can affect your life in all kinds of areas like:

  • Your performance in your job
  • Building your business
  • Being a good mom (mom guilt, anyone?)
  • Taking risks (or not) with creative projects
  • Contributing to your community

Imposter syndrome can get in the way of you living a life that feels liberated and successful.

This was the case for me in my old life as the owner of a web development company. I felt like such an imposter, like my work was never good enough, like I was never good enough. With this attitude, I worked myself into a hole of burnout and depression.

Shining light on my own imposter syndrome and putting in the work to transform it has totally changed my life. I’m delighted to report that I actually feel empowered and lighthearted most of the time. I’m tempted to say it’s a miracle, but it’s actually not.  It’s a process. A process that you, too can follow…

The best way to get started with healing imposter syndrome is to understand what it’s all about. So, shall we?

What is the imposter syndrome anyway?

The term imposter syndrome refers to a belief you have that you and/or your abilities aren’t enough, no matter how many times you prove yourself.  

It can manifest as habitual thoughts like:

  • I’m not qualified
  • I only did well because of luck
  • I only did well because I busted my butt
  • I’m not enough
  • I’m not a good enough {fill in the blank}
  • I don’t want to be seen
  • I don’t deserve recognition
  • I’m a fake
  • I’m a fraud
  • When people find out about me, then…..

These self-limiting thoughts can feel SO true. Like facts. 

Often, you have all kinds of proof that you can point to that “prove” the self-limiting thoughts as true. The brain loves to find evidence to support its negative beliefs. This is normal. 

Just because you think something, doesn’t make it true.

However, what you think is VERY important because your thoughts drive your actions. 

The imposter complex fuels many behaviors that create a cycle of stress and stuckness in your life. This brings us to the:

Top signs you have imposter syndrome

1. You’re a perfectionist.

You spend large amounts of time on tiny, low priority details so that you make sure everything is “how it should be.”

People sometimes get confused and think that being detailed means they’re good at their job. Actually, the ability to get overall results is what determines effectiveness. 

Sure, attention to detail CAN be a positive thing IF it’s fueled by the right intention. The key to knowing if the imposter syndrome drives your obsession with detail is if it comes from the need to “get it right” or from the joy of the craft. 

2. You consistently over work

Working early mornings, late nights, weekends. Skipping lunch breaks and gym time. Putting the kids and husband first, every time.

All without being asked.

Overworking, or over-efforting, as a habit indicates that, on some level, you feel that you have to prove yourself by doing things to a certain level.

This shows up as unconscious beliefs like “in order to be a good employee/student/wife/mother I have to do {endlessly long list of things that will never get done}.”

No matter how much you do, though, any relief you get from checking things off the list quickly disappears and you’re back to feeling like you’re never enough.

3. Procrastination

You know you need to do that project.

People are waiting on you.

You know it’s important and you wish you’d get it out of the way sooner rather than later but you don’t feel like starting it and so you put it off until the last minute when you finally push it out in a mad dash of frantic energy and emotional overload and then finally it’s done and you can relax for just. one. minute.

Phew!

This kind of cycle happens with the imposter complex because when you’re feeling incompetent, it’s hard to start the work. You need the motivation of urgency to start the work and even once you’ve completed it, the brain will interpret your “poor time management” as evidence that you’re a fraud, which further strengthens the pattern.

4. Over-researching & overeducating

The imposter complex can also manifest as constantly researching and taking classes instead of actually sitting down to do the work. 

No matter how much you learn, you never feel ready to do your job or fulfill your role. By shying away from doing the thing, you rob yourself of the BEST way to improve – experience – and you end up keeping yourself in the shadows. 

5. You’re surprised when your superiors have faith in you or when people recognize your contributions

This is because you’re pretty much always focused on what you didn’t do right, what could have been better, on what was less than perfect. 

If someone praises your work, you dismiss it.

Even if you do notice that you did a good job, it’s brief and it doesn’t change your habitual feeling that you might not do a good enough job in the future. = Worry! Anxiety! Overwhelm, oh my!

6. You try to be superwoman

Similar to being a perfectionist, you have to be the BEST at everything you do. You can’t just have fun playing the piano or painting or being a mom. You have to know all the techniques, have the best gear and basically spend most of your time preparing to do the thing (a lá over-researching) instead of experiencing the joy of simply being present and doing it.

This creates constant dissatisfaction and never-enoughness. You set the bar so high that you can never reach it, so you feel ashamed and guilty. Either you continue to do the thing and beat yourself up or you stop trying altogether.

Now that you have a good idea of how the imposter syndrome shows up in your life, the next step is to learn  “How to overcome imposter syndrome“, which I’ll explore in next week’s blog post. 

Big love,

Heidi


If you’ve read this far and are thinking “ugh, I’m totally suffering from imposter syndrome, how do I get out of this?”, coaching can be the answer.

I help my clients get to the root of chronic self-doubt and the imposter complex so that they can stop feeling small and held back.

When you make self-transformation a priority, your life CAN be big and beautiful in a way that fits you perfectly.

To experience coaching and see if it’s a good fit for you, schedule a free consultation here.

 

Heidi

I am a holistic life coach, certified Ayurvedic Health Counselor, Insight Yoga Teacher and Mental Health 1st Aid provider. I love helping people heal and grow, so that they can move towards the greatest, most joyful expression of their lives - and share their gifts with others.