Imposter Syndrome & Other Self-Esteem Issues—The Practical Side

“Imposter syndrome is a psychological pattern in which an individual doubts their skills, talents or accomplishments and has a persistent internalized fear of being exposed as a fraud” (www.wikipedia.com). Okay, when I read this, I think, who has not had doubted his/her skills or talents at some point? The difference in this syndrome definition is that the dysfunction is a pattern.

When we talk about mental health, we as therapists, state that to have a true “disorder” one’s functioning must be impaired. For functioning to be impaired, there must be a pattern. Imposter syndrome is just that—a pattern. It is not the jitters one gets before doing something for the first or second time…or the “nerves” one has before trying something new. Imposter syndrome is a pattern of doubt.  It is the feeling that one is trying to be something s/he is not.

With unrealistic, social media ideals that flood our consciousness daily, it is easy to feel that we are less than and trying to reach ideals that are largely unachievable. However, the truth is, every person that tries something new or does something great at some point experiences imposter syndrome. There is always that moment when one thinks, “I am not completely sure I know what I am doing.” This is a normal experience and only becomes an impairment when the sentiment lingers. In short, this thought is only negative when is becomes a pattern and thus a “syndrome.”  

If you are feeling like an imposter or doubting yourself, now is a good time to examine where your thoughts come from. Are you experiencing first time jitters, or is your disbelief in yourself something deeper? Sometimes imposter syndrome stems from negative self-talk that plays over and over in your head from things people said to you when you were young.

Now is the time to take inventory about what you think about your talents and abilities and where such thoughts come from. If you are feeling like an imposter, we can provide the safe space and support you need to process your thoughts and feelings. Please contact Life Enhancement Counseling Services today at 407-443-8862 to schedule an appointment with one of our experienced mental health counselors. 


Yolanda Brailey