Skip to content

Do You Feel Like a Fake Even When You Succeed?

2013 April 26

Everyone feels like an impostor at one time or another. It’s what you do with those feelings that count.

Imposter SyndromeImpostor Syndrome might be an unfamiliar term to you, but if you’ve ever questioned your own abilities … maybe felt that you don’t know nearly as much as everyone gives you credit for, or worried that sooner or later people will find out you’ve been faking it all along, then you’ve experienced it firsthand.

In extreme cases of Impostor Syndrome intelligent, high performing individuals come to believe they don’t deserve the successes they’ve achieved, and manage to do such a thorough job of convincing themselves that their accomplishments have somehow been fabricated or a fluke, that they end up creating a self-fulfilling prophecy. Their career begins to plateau, or worse, falls into a nose dive.

Of course to some extent, we are all impostors. The truth is displaying a public image is simply part of the normal human condition. It’s only when we allow nagging doubts to take over that we risk undermining our personal growth

Do any of these statements sound familiar?

  • I secretly worry that others will find out that I’m not as capable as they think I am.
  • I sometimes shy away from challenges because of nagging self-doubt, or fear that I will be exposed as a fake.
  • I tend to attribute my accomplishments up to being a “fluke,” “no big deal” or the fact that people just “like” me.
  • I hate making a mistake, and tend to over prepare in an effort to be perfect.
  • I feel crushed by any form of criticism.
  • I often compare myself to others I view as smarter and more capable.

Part of me suspects that I’m a loser, and the other part of me thinks I’m God Almighty. ~John Lennon

The most important thing to realize is that once you recognize these feelings for what they are, you can work with them.

  • Acknowledge and value even small accomplishments: The obvious benefit of acknowledging your accomplishments is to increase confidence and provide proof that you are in fact, not a fake. While it may feel uncomfortable, even a bit egotistical, to think about keeping track of your achievements, consider this … by discounting or ignoring your own accomplishments you’re much more likely to end up viewing the accomplishments of others as far greater than they actually are.
  • Break the habit of negative self-talk: A little self-criticism is not such a bad thing if it serves as a reality check to encourage growth. The problems begin when the criticism becomes a habit, and seeds of self-doubt are planted that begin to take on a life of their own. Self-awareness is the key to catching destructive internal messages. Whenever you begin thinking negatively about yourself, stop immediately and ask yourself if you would say that to a friend. Then take the time to write out what you’ve said to yourself. Seeing it on a piece of paper will make it more obvious how self-depreciating your thoughts really are, and why you deserve to treat yourself better.

  • Learn to keep criticism in perspective: It’s rarely pleasant to be on the receiving end of criticism, even when it’s “constructive,” and delivered with kindness and empathy … worse yet, odds are that at one time or another you’ll be on the receiving end of harsh, even ego bruising criticism. Sometimes it’s fair, sometimes it’s not. The point is to learn to detach from your defensive feelings, and the assumption that the criticism is validation that you’ve been right all along about being a fake. Learn to keep criticism in perspective, give yourself some space to regain your center and calm nerves, and then try in earnest to see what you can learn from the experience.
  • Fake it till you make it: Ironically, one way to work through Impostor Syndrome is to actually “fake it” till you make it. Putting this in perspective, this is not about lying or doing anything unethical. It’s about taking a leap of faith relating to the value of your knowledge and expertise. One of the best explanations I’ve seen of “fake it” till you make it states that it is about predicting the outcome of a situation by behaving in a way that leads to that prediction coming true. Indicating, yet again, that the beliefs you hold have an impact on what happens to you.

Ultimately working through Impostor Syndrome is about becoming more attached to our successes than our failures. Have you ever felt like an impostor? What makes you feel that way? What reminds you of the truth about yourself?

thankyouIf you enjoyed this article I hope you’ll consider contributing to the conversation by leaving a comment and sharing this post with your friends! In fact I’d love to connect with YOU! To follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc., just click here.

I also hope you will consider joining the IGG Community! It only takes a couple of minutes to sign up, and then each new article will be conveniently delivered to your email inbox … and of course you’ll also receive your free copy of my Welcome Gift for Subscribers - Believe in Yourself!

To learn more - press here.


18 Responses
  1. May 13, 2013

    It also happens when I feel like a looser, even standing on the top. No matter, what we do after all we are humans and it’s a common thing for a human being to feel such emotions. I won many prizes and awards, but still not satisfied and can’t answer my questions.

  2. April 29, 2013

    Hi Marty, I am very familiar with this breaking the habit of negative self-talk, this is one I have been working on for years. I am pretty sure this one goes back to childhood and the same goes for criticism. My Mom was very tough on me, I couldn’t do anything right! She could find a flaw in anything that I did. So now when I try to take constructive criticism in. I do get annoyed, but I have been working on this :)

    Thanks for this great post Marty.. Chery :)
    Chery Schmidt recently posted..Should You Promote What You Do?My Profile

  3. April 27, 2013

    Hi Marquita, Great post encouraging us to truly appreciate who we are and our accomplishments. The fear of success is a natural feeling especially when a person is constantly under the pressure of being compared to others. I like how you help us identify those hurdles and then give us the options to overcome them. Thanks for taking the time to help others be happy with their own success.
    Delmy recently posted..Ask and Ye Shall Receive…..My Profile

  4. April 27, 2013

    These statements in particular resonated with me:
    * I hate making a mistake, and tend to over prepare in an effort to be perfect.
    * I feel crushed by any form of criticism.
    * I often compare myself to others I view as smarter and more capable.
    Your post is very helpful and I will bookmark it to remind myself to take the steps you recommended. Thank you much!
    Susan Ekins recently posted..Keep the FaithMy Profile

  5. Tara Ford
    April 27, 2013

    I found your great blog through the WLC Blog Follows on the World Literary Cafe! Great to connect!

  6. April 27, 2013

    I think it’s really important to be able to discern what are your gifts and what are your weaknesses. This will help overcome something like this.
    Elise recently posted..Monday MotivationMy Profile

  7. April 27, 2013

    Hello Marty I think we do better when we listen to the positive voice when we chat to ourselves not the negative ones not always easy but always beneficial :)
    Sadie-Michalea Harris recently posted..The ‘ICE’ – In Case of Emergency – Mobile CampaignMy Profile

  8. April 27, 2013

    This is a great reminder Marty. When we really believe in ourselves and our self-esteem is high we can feel the success in who we are , how we be and what we do
    Suzie Cheel recently posted..BEach Inspirations: Be GratefulMy Profile

  9. April 27, 2013

    Why should anyone feel fake if he /she has achieved something. Even if it has been achieved by a wrong way still credits need to be accepted.
    Ansh recently posted..How to Install a WordPress Theme ManuallyMy Profile

  10. April 26, 2013

    Thanks! Great post! I was just writing about the same thing that people don’t give themselves enough credit for the stuff they do.
    Priit Kallas recently posted..Improve Your Life #7: Give Yourself Some CreditMy Profile

Comments are closed.