If someone displays these 7 behaviors, they suffer from imposter syndrome

When placed in situations outside one’s comfort zone, or when expected to perform in an unfamiliar environment, it’s normal to feel uncomfortable.

It may even cause one to doubt their abilities, and make them feel like a fraud – afraid that others may find out that they’re incapable of doing their job.

Today, we’ll explore 7 behaviors of someone who may be suffering from imposter syndrome.

1) Setting unrealistic expectations

It’s good to have expectations, even high expectations of ourselves. These push us to grow and become better at what we do.

But setting unrealistic expectations can backfire. And someone who suffers from imposter syndrome is likely to do this.

They may strive to go beyond their limits as a way to mitigate feelings of not being good enough.

Instead, what happens is that they end up feeling disappointed when they can’t meet their expectations. They feel even more like a failure and may become unmotivated to do anything else.

2) Self doubt

Stepping out of one’s comfort zone will make anyone uneasy or uncomfortable.  

But this feeling can actually be a positive thing, because it leads to growth. But when it turns to self doubt, this becomes slightly more problematic.

Someone who’s suffering from imposter syndrome is likely to let their doubts overpower themselves. They may end up paralyzed and afraid to try anything else.

Imposter syndrome can manifest in self doubt and it can cloud a person’s every move. They may not be able to complete simple tasks, because they’ll keep telling themselves that they’re not good enough.

3) Fear of failure

This is another behavior exhibited by those with imposter syndrome.

They get so caught up with the fear of failure that it prevents from starting on anything.

It’s normal to have some doubts when one embarks on new projects, but allowing this fear to take over can prevent someone from realizing their potential.

It prevents them from doing anything, let alone doing anything well.

Eventually, this may lead to…

4) Burnout

The stress of a new role or job, together with self limiting thoughts, can be mentally exhausting.

Someone who’s pushing themselves beyond their limit and striving to meet unrealistic expectations will suddenly feel that work becomes a burden that they can’t seem to let go off.

If left unchecked, this could lead to burnout.  

Some symptoms of burnout include:

  • Poor sleep
  • Having difficulty waking up
  • Feeling unmotivated
  • No longer finding joy in things that you used to enjoy, like hobbies or spending time with friends

This could also cause a strain on relationships with loved ones.

While work occupies the majority of our days, it shouldn’t be the main thing that defines our thoughts, emotions, and who we are as people.

5) Undervaluing contributions

Sometimes, we may get the feeling that whatever we do just isn’t good enough.

Someone who suffers from imposter syndrome may feel this a bit more. When they receive praise or get complimented for their efforts taken to complete a task, they may end up shocked that someone would find their contributions valuable.

They may even attribute their success to someone or something else – anything, but their own capabilities.

As a result of this mindset, these people may have turned down good opportunities because they felt that they won’t be good enough for the role.

Or that they’ll just end up being a burden to everyone else.

6) Self-sabotage

As such, if these negative thoughts are allowed to run free, it could cause one to self sabotage.

It could even end up as a self fulfilling prophecy, where a person successfully convinces themselves that they’re not good enough, and this manifests in the things they do.

Perhaps they make more mistakes, or end up being unable to complete tasks that they’re assigned with.

This could impact future opportunities, such as a promotion or a job offer.

7) Afraid of what people think of you

Another sign of imposter syndrome is feeling that everyone around you thinks you’re incapable at your job.

They may get complimented by colleagues or even recognized by management, but still end up scared that these people don’t mean what they say.

People like these may also place their worth on other people’s expectations of them.

Their identity and confidence start to get pegged to how positively or negatively others think of them.

How to overcome this

Getting over initial self doubts can be difficult, because it’s easier to fall back to the usual, self destructive patterns and remain stuck in the same place one has always been in.

But it takes courage to step out into the unfamiliar, with challenges and opportunities all around.

The first step is to:

a. Identify and remove negative thoughts

Before addressing negative thought processes, it’s important to identify what these thoughts are.

Listing them down can be very helpful, before understanding what led to each one, and finally, replacing each negative thought with something more encouraging, or inspiring.

b. Reframe mindsets

Rather than seeing uncomfortable situations as challenges, choose to think of them as opportunities for growth instead.

When one internalizes the notion that failure is part of learning, it helps them focus on areas of improvement, which can lead to overall personal growth.

c. Confide in close friends

Sometimes, we can be blinded by our own insecurities that we fail to see what we can actually do.

Those who suffer from imposter syndrome should speak to people they trust, even in the workplace, so as get an objective assessment on their performance.

It can help paint a more accurate picture of one’s strengths and weaknesses.


Starting in a new environment can be scary, but it’s not the end of the world.

What’s important is to never stop believing in ourselves and this starts by silencing the negativity in our heads.

Our brains can be conditioned to do what we want, and think what we want it to think. It’s crucial to avoid letting our thoughts overpower us and instead, for us to take control of them.




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Tina Fey

Tina Fey

I've ridden the rails, gone off track and lost my train of thought. I'm writing for Ideapod to try and find it again. Hope you enjoy the journey with me.

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