Mental Health Month | What is Impostor Syndrome?

This post was originally posted in september 2018 as part of mental health month on my blog.

I’m not an expert or professional in any way, this is just information I’ve gathered on Impostor Syndrome. If you read this post and can relate to it and would like professional advice I recommend seeking out help from a professional this could be a councillor, social worker or psychologist in your area.

What is Impostor Syndrome? | Life of Dahlia
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Today I’m back with another Mental Health related post. I want to talk about Impostor Syndrome, I bet you’re asking yourself what is that? well, Impostor Syndrome is probably more common than you realise, its feelings of self-doubt & failure even after you have accomplished something you should be proud of.

But before I get into main body of this post I just want to say I’m not an expert or professional in any way, this is just information I’ve gathered on Impostor Syndrome. If you read this post and can relate to it and would like professional advice I recommend seeking out help from a professional this could be a councillor, social worker or psychologist in your area.

What is Impostor Syndrome?

Impostor syndrome can also be known as the ‘Impostor Phenomenon’, ‘Impostorism’, ‘Fraud Syndrome’ just to name a few, its best known for like I said above people having feelings of self-doubt or it can be internalized fear that they might be found out to be a fraud even if they have nothing to fear because they aren’t doing anything fraudulent.

Impostor Syndrome is not picky you’ll probably be surprised to find out that a lot of professionals suffer from it, it’s more prominent in women but men can also suffer from Impostor Syndrome.

Impostor syndrome is the idea that you have probably only succeeded because of luck, and not because of your talent or the skills you possess, Impostor Syndrome was first identified in a 1978 paper by psychologists Pauline Rose Clance and Suzanne Imes. In this paper, they theorised that women are more uniquely affected by impostor feelings, though this was discounted later on and said that both men and women could suffer from these issues.

Impostor Syndrome expert and author Valerie Young (The Secret Thoughts of Successful Womenhas also found patterns in different kinds of people that suffer from impostor feelings. She theorized that there are 5 different categories of impostor syndrome:

  • The “Perfectionist” who often sets extremely high goals for themselves and even if they successfully finish most of them they often still have feelings that they have failed. Any small setback or mistakes can make them question their abilities.
  • The “Experts” feel the need to know all the information before starting on a project and are constantly looking for more knowledge or certifications before moving forward. They often won’t apply for jobs if they don’t meet all the criteria or they might be hesitant to ask for help in class or from a fellow co-worker because they are afraid of looking stupid, for example, they might not know the correct answer and that will give them feelings of embarrassment.
  • The “Natural Genius” often feels bad when they have to work at something because it usually comes easily to them, so when they have to do this their brains often tell them they are not good enough because they had to work really hard to get something finished.
  • The “Soloist” or “Rugged Individual” feel that they can never ask for help and that they have to accomplish things on their own and if they do have to ask for help that means they are a failer or a fraud.
  • And lastly the “Super Man“, “Super Woman” or “Super Person” whatever you might want to call it, feels the need to succeed in all aspects of their lives, they will often push themselves harder to prove that they are worthy and not an impostor. When they don’t succeed in the way they thought they may become quite stressed.
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Why do we suffer from Impostor Syndrome?

There is no one cause, for many people experience it for different reasons, it could be because of a certain personality trait (maybe you suffer from Anxiety or Neuroticism) or it could be because of environmental or behavioural reasons like pressure on you to get good grades when you were a child or maybe because you were told you weren’t good enough at some point in your life.

Sometimes we put pressure on ourselves that we need to do certain things to be worthy and if we are not a certain way or don’t have certain skills, for example, we think we are not and that we must be lying because we don’t meet those expectations. Often these expectations are not there and we often put them on ourselves.

My experience with Impostor Syndrome

I found out about this term a couple of years ago and while I don’t think I fit into any one of the stereotypical examples I definitely do have similar thoughts and feelings to those described in many of the articles I’ve read (I’ll leave some links at the bottom of this post.)

I’ve always suffered from anxiety and I have always lacked self-confidence, but even with my social anxiety and other issues I’ve managed to gain some really great skills in different areas, like Photography, Graphic Design, Fashion Styling just to name a few. While these are some things I am definitely proud of, I lack the confidence to use them to my full advantage. I often set myself back because I don’t feel confident enough in my abilities to move forward and say become a graphic designer or take portraits like I would love to.

I’ve always had a hard time comparing myself to others, my anxiety has really hindered my quality of life in certain aspects, it has stopped me from doing so many things that I would love to do. I often look around at other people in my life and go I wish I had that or I wish I was normal and could achieve those things, sometimes it’s as basic as being able to work like everyone else, just to be able to be more independent and provide for myself.

This kind of thing often gets me down, I have to rely on people so much and just to be able to not be scared to go out and have responsibilities, be able to take care of myself causes me a lot of stress.

In the last year especially I been going through some really tough periods where I have been suffering from some impostor feeling, comparing myself to other bloggers and people in general. I’ve never felt as bad as this before, I’ve even gone through times recently where I have been subconsciously trying to change things about myself because of the pressure I’m putting on myself. Its been really hard and Its something I need to stop, I know I’m not a bad person and I shouldn’t have to change anything about myself just to fit in.

In the last year I’ve had the opportunity to use some of my graphic design skills to create some logo’s for some lovely makeup artists and a small business, It’s something I should definitely be proud of but all throughout these experiences I had so many feelings of I’m not good enough to do this, I don’t know how to use this professional program enough to work with it, etc. I created really cool artistic designs in my own style and I should be proud of that.

I’m constantly putting ridiculous pressure on myself, for so many different reasons and there have been so many times where I just can’t understand why I’m feeling this way, I should be proud of those achievements and I’m trying my best to be my best self, so why can’t I be okay with that.

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What can we do to fight those Impostor feelings?

I’m not an expert, I don’t have training in Psychology or anything like that but I’ve seen Psychologists and I’m trying to do my best to fight my feelings. The articles I’ve linked below may also help you to understand more about Impostor Syndrome and how you can beat it, I recommend that you take a look.

How can we fight our impostor feelings? First off don’t suffer through this alone, talk to someone be it a close friend or family member, if you don’t want to talk to them maybe seeking counselling would be better for you.

You are not a failer or an impostor, you should be proud of all your achievements no matter what they are, be them big or small you should acknowledge the hard work you put into that.

Impostor thoughts are hard to move on from, believe me, I know from personal experience, acknowledging your thoughts are important but we have to question them and put them in perspective in order for it to not consume us. Again I know this is easier said than done, but we can do this together and work through it to remind us who we really are.

Don’t be afraid to ask for help, it does not make you look weak just because you can’t do something on your own. Every now and then we will come across a challenge in our lives that we can not do by ourselves and that’s okay, don’t feel like a failure because you had to ask for help.

Related articles:

How I’m fighting Impostor Syndrome?

I just made an appointment with a new Psychologist, I’m hopeful that it will help me to talk about it with someone who has more knowledge than me, someone who can give me guidance on how to get back to fighting those thoughts.

I’m also lucky enough to have people that I’m close to that I can talk to and that can help me put those thoughts and doubts into perspective.

Do you or someone you know suffer from Impostor Syndrome? Lets talk in the comments. I want to know more about how other people are fighting there impostor feelings.

Thank you so much for reading my post on Impostor Syndrome? Mental health month has been great for me to be more open about my personal battles with mental health. I hope this article helped you in some way, maybe it helped you understand something your going through or maybe you know someone who is experiencing Impostor feelings.

Not sure if you have Impostor Syndrome, there is a small test (by Pauline Rose Clance) that you can take that will help you to understand if this is something you are experiencing.

Credits: images: image featured on the cover & feature image is by Freepik, Body Image 1 by , Body Image 2 by Freepik .

Information gathered from:

Disclaimer โ€“ This post is not sponsored and doesnโ€™t contain any affiliate links, links included are for reference only in case your interest in checking out anything mentioned in this post. I’m not a mental health professional, this is just information I have gathered on Impostor Syndrome,see disclaimer page for more. Read full Disclaimer here.

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3 thoughts on “Mental Health Month | What is Impostor Syndrome?

  1. I read through your article. I have a question for you. How should I handle imposter syndrome? My brother in law is suffering from it and I’m not sure what to do. I appreciate any advice you could give me.


    1. Hi, thank you for your comment. Not being a health professional I can’t give a huge amount of advice, currently, I’m seeking treatment with a psychologist for my mental health that includes Imposter Syndrome. If I could give any advice it would be for your brother in law to seek advice from a professional whether than be a counselor, psychologist or even a GP.

      I wanted to write this article so that I could discuss things I had been feeling and in hopes that maybe it might help someone else but I would definitely say seeking advice from a professional is probably the best course of action. I know a lot of people have trouble wanting to open up to a health professional but sometimes they are the best people to go to, They are there to listen and give strategies on how to combat our thought processes and anxieties.

      I hope that’s helpful.


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