In the world I inhabit, self-perception counts for a lot. Your actions, though, reveal more.
We are in an era where self-doubt and uncertainty are rampant, so it seems logical to evaluate ourselves based on our actions rather than our inner feelings or self-perceptions.
Let’s push this idea further.
What may be even more significant than your actions are the repercussions of those actions. This implies that self-perceptions do matter, but only to the extent that they prompt actions that impact your life and the lives of those around you negatively.
Below, I’ve listed nine behaviors that indicate you might be grappling with impostor syndrome.
1. You constantly doubt your achievements
Reflect on your daily experiences. Your accolades stack up, your resume overflows with commendations and successes, yet you can’t shake off the feeling that you’re a fraud. You’ve achieved all these by yourself.
If you’re going to be a functioning adult, it’s fundamental to recognize that you’re not an impostor. You’re merely experiencing impostor syndrome.
It’s important to dissolve the illusion of fraudulence that arises from believing your doubts are a validation of your incompetence. They’re not. Your achievements speak volumes, and they are most valuable when they occur without constant self-doubt. When you succeed instinctively.
If you can stop relying on your self-doubt and start creating environments in your life that validate your success, your worth will become apparent from what happens in your life. You won’t need to try so hard.
You will be able to give up on doubting your achievements.
2. You fear success more than failure
This realization often comes as a surprise to many people grappling with impostor syndrome.
The conventional wisdom tells us to “embrace failure” and “learn from our mistakes”. While this advice is generally helpful, for individuals with impostor syndrome, it’s not the fear of failure that poses the biggest problem. It’s the fear of success.
When you’re afraid of success, you’re in essence afraid of being exposed. If you succeed, people will expect even more from you. And if you fail to meet these heightened expectations, your true ‘fraudulence’ will be unveiled.
“Guard your success. Don’t become complacent with your achievements—always strive for more”, this is a common mantra we hear. But for those grappling with impostor syndrome, it’s not about striving for more. It’s about accepting the present achievement as valid and well-deserved.
Watch your fears. Don’t suppress them, don’t ignore them, don’t pretend they’re not there; simply observe them as they come and go. This mindfulness is the first step towards overcoming impostor syndrome. As you become aware of your fears, gradually, they lose their power over you; but you are not becoming complacent, you are becoming more attuned to your emotions and mental state.
When you constantly fear success, you give too much power to your insecurities. You compromise your innate ability to achieve.
Now, I encourage you to give less power to these fears. Sometimes you may dread success. Other times you might be paralyzed by the thought of it. Don’t fear this anymore.
3. You never feel good enough
This one is particularly tough to digest.
“Believing in yourself” comes from the conviction that your self-worth is a reflection of your abilities. But the truth is, your self-worth is what you make of it after things have already happened.
Let me explain.
Think about your achievements right now. You’ve earned that degree by yourself. You’ve reached that career milestone by yourself. You’ve learned those skills by yourself. While reading these words, you’ve realized all these achievements were accomplished by you.
If you’re going to overcome impostor syndrome, it’s fundamental to accept that you are good enough. You’re operating on self-doubt.
It’s crucial to break free from the illusion of inadequacy that comes from believing your doubts invalidate your accomplishments. They don’t. Your achievements stand tall, and they are most meaningful when they occur despite the doubts. When you succeed despite feeling inadequate.
If you can stop relying on self-deprecation and start creating a mindset in your life that acknowledges your worth, your value will become apparent from what you’ve achieved in your life. You won’t need to belittle yourself constantly.
You will be able to let go of feeling never good enough.
4. You downplay your success
This behavior often emerges as a tendency for people dealing with imposter syndrome.
Reflect on your life so far. You’ve worked tirelessly to reach your current status, and you’ve had a fair share of successes along the way. But instead of celebrating these victories, you find yourself downplaying them.
In your case, you may be hyper-focused on your future goals. You become consumed with the next phase of your career or personal life.
Your intentions are noble. You’re striving to improve, to become better, and that’s commendable.
But when you’re so engrossed in what’s next, you can fall into the trap of thinking your achievements are lesser than they truly are. You can become detached from the reality of your success. You may become self-critical and perhaps not the most positive person to be around.
If you assessed yourself based on your intentions, you wouldn’t question this behavior.
Instead, because you’re not focusing solely on your intentions, you have the capacity to reflect on your actions and modify how you behave. You are learning to pause, acknowledge, and appreciate your achievements.
How you perceive and treat your success is what matters, not the intentions that drive this behavior.
5. You constantly compare yourself to others
This is something I personally struggle with.
We live in a world that’s more connected than ever. Social media platforms are brimming with snapshots of people’s successes and highlight reels, and it’s easy to fall into the comparison trap.
In my experience, I’ve found myself scrolling through LinkedIn, seeing my peers’ promotions, new jobs, and professional accomplishments. I see friends on Instagram traveling, buying homes, or celebrating personal milestones. And while I’m genuinely happy for them, a part of me can’t help but compare my journey to theirs.
Despite knowing that everyone’s path is different and these platforms often only show the best parts, I still find myself wondering if I’m falling behind or not doing as well as them. The comparison game is a slippery slope and it fuels my impostor syndrome.
But over time, I’ve realized that this constant comparison doesn’t serve me. Instead, it only amplifies my feelings of being an impostor. Now, I consciously try to remind myself that my journey is unique and cannot be compared to anyone else’s.
I’m learning to focus more on my own path and less on what others are doing. It’s an ongoing process, but acknowledging the issue is the first step towards overcoming it.
6. You attribute your success to luck
Impostor syndrome often convinces individuals to attribute their accomplishments to external factors, like luck or timing, rather than their skills or capabilities.
Here’s the key point:
Research suggests that those suffering from impostor syndrome are more likely to credit their success to good fortune or serendipity, rather than their own hard work or talents. This pattern of thinking not only undermines self-confidence but also perpetuates the feeling of being a fraud.
For those grappling with impostor feelings, recognizing this tendency can provide a sense of clarity. It’s a reminder that success is not a random occurrence but a result of our efforts and abilities.
Acknowledging that our achievements are the product of our skills and hard work, rather than mere luck, can change our narrative and help in overcoming impostor syndrome.
7. You feel relieved when not recognized
Now, this may seem a bit surprising, but people suffering from impostor syndrome often find solace in being overlooked.
It’s quite paradoxical. On the one hand, you strive for success and recognition. But on the other hand, when you do receive recognition, it triggers a fear of being exposed as an impostor.
So, in a strange way, not being recognized or praised for your work can bring a sense of relief. It means you’ve successfully managed to fly under the radar for a little longer, and your fear of being ‘found out’ is momentarily at bay.
But remember this: Your worth is not defined by recognition, but neither is it determined by its absence. Understanding this can be the catalyst for breaking free from the cycle of impostor syndrome and embracing your accomplishments for what they truly are – a testament to your abilities and hard work.
In conclusion: It could be psychological
The complexities of human emotions and self-perceptions are often intricately intertwined with our psychological makeup.
One such connection is the relationship between individuals and a psychological pattern known as impostor syndrome.
This pattern, prevalent in many high-achieving individuals, acts as a mental roadblock, obstructing the path to self-recognition and self-worth, playing a pivotal role in various aspects of their lives.
For those grappling with impostor syndrome, understanding this pattern might be a key factor in their journey towards self-acceptance. Recognizing the signs can potentially induce a sense of clarity and empowerment when they tackle these feelings head-on.
Whether it’s acknowledging your achievements, valuing your worth, or refraining from constant comparison, the underlying psychology might be influencing your experience.