The feeling of success is like none other. For many, the pursuit of this feeling is the driving force for life.  However, this feeling can sometimes be distorted depending on the environment that one is working in.

The imposter syndrome is a thought pattern in which an individual constantly feels their own accomplishments are insufficient and in some cases, considers themselves a “fraud” to their own success. The reality of this phenomenon is that it’s more common than you would think. According to a clinical research paper published in the Journal of Behavioral Science, approximately 70% of the U.S. population experiences these kind of thoughts.

These feelings tend to appear when milestones occur within one’s life. Certain stressors related to professional or personal success, can trigger negative thoughts of being incompetent or disqualified for the given position. These negative thoughts are considered cognitive distortions and are based on fear and anxiety rather than facts.

Imposter syndrome is largely related to perfectionism which is never healthy to aspire for.  Eventually, the constant aspiration to be perfect can worsen one’s already existing anxiety and may even lead to depression. Those experiencing imposter syndrome tend to shy away from talking about their feelings, very similar to those with social anxiety disorder.  Suffering in silence is not necessary when CBT is available to help.

There are steps one can complete in order to help achieve success despite these thoughts flooding your mind. The first step of overcoming imposter syndrome is recognizing it.

Acknowledging and accepting that it’s present can help you distinguish which thoughts are rooted in facts and which thoughts are based on your cognitive distortions. Pay attention to your own self-talk and consider whether your thoughts are empowering or disabling. Reminding yourself that other people are also suffering from it is a key in still pursuing your success.

You’re not alone in this feeling and are more than capable of fulfilling the given role you are in. Having a strong support system can be helpful in your journey to success. Letting others know what you are feeling can alleviate the stress of having to go through it alone. These trusted individuals can also aid in reminding you of your successes that led you to the position you are in instead of focusing on thoughts manifested by your fears. CBT combined with self help will guide you away from being your own worst enemy.

Written by: Rudairo Segbeaya recently received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of San Francisco. She’s working as an administrative assistant and social media coordinator at Pacific CBT while deciding the area of psychology she would like to study in graduate school. It was co-written by John Montopoli, LMFT, LPCC, Pacific CBT’s founder.

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  4. The Downside to Being Stoic: Why Verbalizing Feelings Helps
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