Imposter Syndrome: Causes, Symptoms, Treatment And Test

Most often, you hear people mention imposter or impostor syndrome in reference to professional insecurities. Where people sometimes feel like they don’t belong.

This psychological phenomenon, known as imposter syndrome, reflects a belief that you’re an inadequate and incompetent failure despite evidence that indicates you’re skilled and quite successful.

In real sense, this can take various forms, depending on a person’s background, personality, and circumstances.

However, if you really what to know about an impostor syndrome (as most times called), including its causes, symptoms, treatment and test, then continue reading this very article to find out.

What Is Imposter Syndrome?


Imposter syndrome (IS) refers to an internal experience of believing that you are not as competent as others perceive you to be.

While the above definition is usually narrowly applied to intelligence and achievement, it has links to perfectionism and the social context.

Symptoms Of Imposter Syndrome

A women feeling pain
Women in White Turtle Neck Shirt and Red Lipstick

Symptoms of imposter or impostor syndrome can look different for different people, though there are some consistent and common ones to look out for. Symptoms might include:

  • Extreme lack of self confidence
  • Feelings of inadequacy
  • Constant comparison to other people
  • Anxiety
  • Self-doubt
  • Distrust in one’s own intuition and capabilities
  • Negative self-talk
  • Dwelling on the past events
  • Irrational fears of the future

Also, in professional settings, typical examples may include:

  • Taking on extra work to make sure you’re “doing it all” (perfectionism)
  • Shrugging off accolades
  • Not applying to job postings unless you meet every single requirement

How To Overcome Imposter Syndrome


Here are some small steps you can take to identify and overcome your unique imposter syndrome patterns:

  • Remember that success is subjective
  • Set boundaries around systems or individuals who detract from your personal wellness and growth
  • Take ownership of objective successes
  • Perform consistent self-care check ins
  • Speak with a therapist, which is VERY IMPORTANT

How To Cope From Imposter Syndrome

To get past imposter syndrome, you need to start asking yourself some hard but crucial questions. They might include things such as the following:

  1. What core beliefs do I hold about myself?
  2. Do I believe I am worthy of love as I am?
  3. Must I be perfect for others to approve of me?

To move past these excruciating feelings, you need to become comfortable confronting some of those deeply ingrained beliefs you hold about yourself.

This can be truly hard because you might not even realize that you hold them, but here are some helpful tips you can use:

Share Your Feelings: Talk to other close people about how you are feeling. These irrational beliefs tend to fester when they are hidden and not talked about.

Focus On Others: While this might feel counterintuitive, try to help others in the same situation as you. If you see someone who seems awkward or alone, ask that person a question to bring them into the group. As you practice your skills, you will build confidence in your own abilities.

Assess Your Abilities: If you have long-held beliefs about your incompetence in social and performance situations, make a realistic assessment of your abilities.

Write down your accomplishments and what you are good at, and compare that with your self-assessment.

Take Baby Steps: Don’t focus on doing things perfectly, but rather, do things reasonably well and reward yourself for taking action.

For example, in a group conversation, offer an opinion or share a story about yourself.

Question Your Thoughts: As you start to assess your abilities and take baby steps, question whether your thoughts are rational.

Does it make sense that you are a fraud, given everything that you know?

Stop Comparing: Every time you compare yourself to others in a social situation, you will find some fault with yourself that fuels the feeling of not being good enough or not belonging.

Instead, during conversations, focus on listening to what the other person is saying. Be genuinely interested in learning more.

Use Social Media Moderately:


We know that the overuse of social media may be related to feelings of inferiority.

If you try to portray an image on social media that doesn’t match who you really are or that is impossible to achieve, it will only make your feelings of being a fraud worse.

Stop Fighting Your Feelings: Don’t fight the feelings of not belonging. Instead, try to lean into them and accept them.

It’s only when you acknowledge them that you can start to unravel those core beliefs that are holding you back.

Refuse To Let It Hold You Back: No matter how much you feel like you don’t belong, don’t let that stop you from pursuing your goals. Keep going and refuse to be stopped.

Test For Imposter/Impostor Syndrome


Whether it’s worrying that your work isn’t 100% perfect or feeling like you haven’t truly earned your job title among others, there are several occasions when we feel like impostors.

A new test has been developed that reveals if you suffer from so-called ‘Impostor Syndrome’. The test, called the Clance Imposter Phenomenon Test, was developed by Nickolas Means.

It includes 20 statements and asks you to select the answer that best indicates how true the statement is of you.

Based on your answers, you’ll then be given a score from 0-100, with 0 indicating you have no impostor syndrome, and 100 an intense feeling of impostorism.

In conclusion, always remember that if you are feeling like an impostor, it means you have some degree of success in your life that you are attributing to luck.

Try instead to turn that feeling into one of gratitude and not altitude. Look at what you have accomplished in your life and just be grateful for it.


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