Impostor Syndrome and the Fear of Success

You don’t deserve what you have.

People will find out.

You’re a fraud.

Sound familiar? It does to me. For the entirety of my professional life, I’ve had a voice in my head telling me I was a faker. I didn’t deserve the success I’ve worked for. I didn’t have the right to hold the positions I’ve held. I’d be exposed as a fraud and everyone will FINALLY know that I am a liar and should go back from wherever I came from. And this voice would not be subtle. It took a lot of energy to turn down the volume, look past the roadblock, and continue on my journey to success and happiness.

This voice has a name. IMPOSTOR SYNDROME. The term, introduced in 1978 by Dr. Pauline R. Clance and Dr. Suzanne A. Imes, defines impostor phenomenon (or syndrome) as an individual experience of self-perceived intellectual phoniness (Wikipedia). Basically thinking you are a fraud. And the numbers indicate that almost 3/4 of us have some degree of impostor syndrome at any given time. And as I’ve felt in my own experience, this feeling can spawn stress, anxiety, fear of failure, loss of confidence and a host of other self-sabotaging feelings and habits.

So how do we overcome impostor syndrome? As the old saying goes, “Old habits die hard…” Once impostor syndrome becomes a part of our routine, it becomes an extension of our comfort zone. Stepping outside of our comfort zones is difficult, but it’s the one and only way we learn and grow. Here are a few ways we can push past that voice in our heads and begin to enjoy our success:

  1. Remind yourself of your successes - We work so hard that we sometimes forget why we work so hard. To achieve success. It’s easy to list all your failures. Take time to look back and list all the things you’ve done right. Embrace those wins, and make room for more wins in the future.

  2. What’s holding you back? - We think the thoughts that hold us back, but never examine those thoughts or where they’re coming from. Who’s voice are you hearing when it says you’re a fraud? What belief do you hold that is sabotaging your future? What would happen if you actually won and were successful?

  3. Accept Yourself - You are who you are and you do what you do. Stop comparing yourself to others successes. Everyone’s journey is personal, so comparing what you’ve done to others is pointless. Use yourself and your past as the comparison to the here and now.

Trust the universe is showing you the correct path.